Whether you’re among the select few who have passed the CFA, or are frantically cramming for the upcoming exams in June, it’s good to know how the qualification will affect your job prospects. As the CFA Institute itself admits – the CFA in itself will not get you a job, and it needs to be combined with the right experience. But where is it most highly-valued?
There are around 125,000 people who have either passed one level of the CFA, or are full Charterholders, on the eFinancialCareers CV database. We’ve crunched the numbers to find which firms are most likely to employ CFAs – based on the proportion of resumes mentioning either the CFA or Charterholder status – which sector you’re most likely to work in and how long you’re likely to have worked in the industry. Our results suggest that only a tiny proportion of people working in any top financial services organisations have passed all three levels of the CFA. Even on the buy-side the minority of employees have the any level qualification under their belt.
This supports the CFA’s own figures, which suggest that J.P. Morgan, UBS and Royal Bank of Canada are the biggest employers of CFA charterholders. J.P. Morgan employs over 250,000 people, but just 1,780 – or less than 1% – have passed all three levels of the CFA.
Our stats suggest that Pimco and Blackrock are the biggest proportional employers of CFAs by some distance – 24% and 21% of employees at these firms respectively in our database had passed some level of the exam. More surprising, considering the lack of CFA traction in hedge funds, is that hedge fund Bluecrest Capital Management and private equity firm KKR come in third and fourth with 18% and 16% respectively. The highest ranking investment banks were Jefferies and Goldman Sachs, with 15% of employees either studying for the CFA or holding the full charter. Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan, RBS and Societe Generale were the smallest employers of CFAs in the banking industry.
Asset management, not surprisingly, was by far the the biggest employer of CFAs by sector – 16% of all people on our database mentioning the CFA work in asset management. More surprising is the fact that 7% of all CFAs on our database worked in investment banking jobs and just 4% worked in wealth management. You also have a greater chance of working in risk management than a trading role if you take the CFA exams, our stats suggest.
Our data indicates that juniors are far more likely to go through the CFA exams. This chimes with the stats suggesting that more university students are taking level one – either as an undergraduate or as part of their Masters in Finance course. However, our analysis of the CFA’s directory shows that those working in investment banking with charterholder status tend to be at associate level or below. The CFA is clearly becoming more of a badge of honour among the uber-qualified juniors getting jobs in investment banking now.
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