This past August, the results of the CFA exam were published, and surprisingly, only 54% of test takers passed. If you happened to be part of the percentage of people who weren’t successful this time around, use this as an opportunity to fine tune your study habits and remind yourself of what you’re working towards. While it’s no secret that the CFA is considered to be one of the most challenging certification processes in the industry, this designation can be essential for long-term success in financial services.
Mitchell Peskin, Partner and Executive Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division, has witnessed firsthand the increased demand from employers in search of professionals who possess the CFA designation. “Securing the CFA designation is one of the best decisions you can make for your long-term career goals as a finance professional,” says Mitch. “These three letters have the potential to enhance your professional marketability and shows that you hold yourself to the highest industry standards.”
Whether you’re considering pursuing an advanced certification or looking for a way to stand out in a competitive market, here are 3 reasons why you should stay on the CFA track:
- The CFA is consistently growing in popularity
Did you know that more people registered to take the three levels of the CFA exam this past June than ever before? Moreover, there was an 8.5% increase in registrations this year compared to June 2015. With strong recent gains in job creation in the financial services sector and a positive employment outlook for business and financial occupations, advanced certifications will be a key differentiator amongst finance professionals.
This growth in registrations is representative of an increase in demand from employers that want finance professionals who possess a strong investment education rooted in ethics. “If you thrive in the analytical and quantitative aspects of financial management and you’re interested in pursuing a career in investment management, I encourage job seekers to make it a personal goal to pass all three levels of the CFA exam,” advises Mitch. The earlier you’re able to start the process of acquiring this designation, the sooner you will be able to position yourself as an expert in your chosen field, which could lead to greater flexibility in your job prospects.
- Acquiring a CFA is a more cost-effective alternative
As a finance professional looking to take the next step in your career, you have an important decision to make: should you go back to school to get your Master’s degree/MBA, or should you pursue a particular advanced certification? While completing an MBA is an excellent accomplishment that adds breadth to your resume and typically leads to higher-paying jobs, the CFA certification can be acquired at a substantially lower cost in the long-run. “Since it’s impossible to claim that one is better for your career than the other, you ultimately want to make sure you are spending your time, money, and energy in the most efficient way possible,” says Mitch. For example, the cost attending a top-tier MBA program for at least 2 years can reach sizable amounts, while the CFA can cost far less. In the end, if you are trying to take the next step in your career and want to be cost conscious, the CFA provides a great return on investment.
- You’ll hone key soft skills you can emphasize during interviews
Since the CFA exam can typically extend over a 3-year period, committing yourself to all three levels of the exam will speak to a number of transferable soft skills you possess. “Studying for the CFA is almost the equivalent to committing to a full-time job,” says Mitch. “By exercising enough self-discipline to study for at least 300 hours and enduring all three exams, you can highlight key skills such as time management and follow through.” Not only will your accomplishment demonstrate these sought-after skills, attaining your CFA will undoubtedly speak to your level of dedication to your career since you may likely had to make some sacrifices to reach your goal.