Last week, I got an email from the CFA Institute. It was all very upbeat and came with a photo of an attractive Asian woman staring excitedly into the near-distance. “Your CFA® designation played a part in helping you get where you are today,” it said, adding, “We have good news: your membership can provide continual benefits to help you advance your career.”
I would, unfortunately, beg to disagree. Where I am today is unemployed. My CFA “designation” may not have got me here, but neither has it done anything much to help.
The CFA Institute likes to pretend that its qualifications will transform your career, but my experience has been that they do not. People in HR teams at investment banks are not really bothered about the CFA. They want you to play their game instead. And their game is more likely to involve a coding test or an abstract reasoning test than ticking the boxes of the CFA Institute. If you can’t do the new tests – if you can’t write an algorithm or spot a pattern in some random shapes – you won’t get a job now. Who cares that you’ve spent 900 hours+ getting the CFA Charter?
I find the whole thing annoying. And what’s worse is that the CFA Institute seems to be forever advertising its qualifications on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As a paid-up member of the CFA Institute ($275 a year), I feel like it’s wasting my money trying to bring in more people to sit their exams, when what it needs to be doing is spending money raising awareness of their qualifications among employers. At the very least, stop advertising to me – I already have the qualification and it’s doing nothing for me!
Becoming a CFA Charterholder wasn’t easy. I still think the CFA Institute means well, but I also think it’s a bit removed from reality. I’ve thought of messaging it directly with my suggestions but I’m afraid of damaging my job prospects even further in the process. Instead, I’m complaining here, practicing abstract reasoning tests – and ignoring all these emails from the CFA Institute about how wonderful they are.
Owen Morgan is the pseudonym of an equity researcher in London.
Photo credit:IMG_0581 by Scott Hernandez is licensed under CC BY 2.0.