Possessing the CFA charter alone will not guarantee you a job. It will merely mark you out as the sort of individual with the brains (and stamina) who can make it through 900 hours of study to become one of the 40-55% of candidates who start the CFA program and actually finish it.
Assuming you have ambitions to work for one of the ‘big three’ U.S investment banks, wealth managers or bank-owned asset managers – Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley – will it actually help? Based on analysis of CFA Institute Member Directory, the number of charterholders at the three firms is surprisingly low.
There are 206 listed at J.P. Morgan, for instance, 270 at Morgan Stanley and 109 at Goldman Sachs. The caveat here is that the directory comprises only individuals who have volunteered their information to the CFA Institute. Even so, it appears that CFA charterholders are a select group.
At Morgan Stanley, the majority (43%) work in private banking or wealth management. 202 charterholders are based out of the U.S. and most of these are working as financial advisors. This has skewed the sector figures towards wealth management. In the UK, the second largest location for CFA charterholders at Morgan Stanley, most are working in research or portfolio management.
Meanwhile, at Goldman Sachs, 10% of CFA charterholders work in an investment banking role. However, these people are almost exclusively based out of Asia. In fact, across the three banks, most people in an investment banking position were based out of Hong Kong or China.
In the UK, which is the biggest location for CFA charterholders at Goldman Sachs, most people work in portfolio management or research.
At J.P. Morgan, meanwhile, most CFA charterholders work for its asset management arm in a portfolio management position.
And what about rank? We’ve pointed to previously that CFA charterholders are less likely to make it to MD than MBAs. However, 15% of the total across the three banks – where ranks were revealed – have made it to MD. The latgest proportion (39%), however, were VPs.