How CFA accreditation unlocked my career in advice – Money Marketing

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The investment market continues to grow at a striking rate, with PwC expecting global assets under management to almost double in size between 2016 and 2025 to £123trn.
With this growth comes demand for highly qualified investment professionals.
For those looking to pursue a career in investment management, the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme is the best way to develop the requisite knowledge.
It’s recommended candidates study for 900 hours across the three levels
However, becoming a fully-fledged CFA charterholder is no mean feat. It’s a significant undertaking and the exams are challenging.
It’s recommended candidates study for 900 hours across the three levels, which can seem daunting, especially alongside full-time employment. But don’t let this put you off. There were times when I questioned whether it was worth it but I can confirm it definitely is.
I’ve worked in the industry since 2006, first as an investment trader and later in financial planning, investment trading and fund management. I eventually returned to financial planning, joining Baggette & Company Wealth Management as a chartered financial planner in 2015.
I decided to start studying for the CFA programme after a friend said it was a way to obtain a strong industry grounding. Having completed my master’s degree in wealth management in 2018, I was eager to continue learning about the industry and how I could best serve my clients.
It has enabled me to serve my clients with greater confidence and given me credibility among my professional peers and colleagues
I became a CFA charterholder in August 2022. So, as someone who has emerged from those 900 hours, I wanted to share some advice and reflections to help others who are considering, or are already undertaking, the programme.
1. Have an open mind
Despite spending over a decade working in finance, when I started the CFA I didn’t know what I wanted the next step in my career to be. CFA Level 1 gave me a broad overview of a range of topics across investment management disciplines including accounting, economics and portfolio management. This meant I had enough insight into each discipline to make an informed decision that I wanted to pursue a career in asset management.
2. Don’t try to do it all at once
Studying for the CFA takes time and money. It’s beneficial to both your mental wellbeing and career progression to do it at a pace that best suits you. Take time between Levels 1 and 2 to gain some experience in the field you want to go into. Being a CFA charterholder who has applied their learnings in a professional environment makes you much more desirable to employers.
3. Learn in a way that suits you
This may seem obvious, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. I was lucky enough to have coursemates with whom I could practice different learning styles – from using flashcards, having a study buddy or making a detailed study plan. One strategy that worked for me was waking up early to go over flashcards before work, which meant I could spend time with my daughter in the evening and that 900 hours of study didn’t turn into 9000.
4. It is more than learning theories, you gain practical skills too
The CFA provided me with knowledge which I have carried through to my everyday work. For example, financial reporting analysis is something I use several times a week as a financial planner. Ethics is another topic the CFA is particularly strong in, which is extremely useful in the investment industry, where sound ethical and environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices are non-negotiables.
5. Harness your newfound confidence
The benefits of being a CFA charterholder have become immediately evident in my day-to-day work. It has enabled me to serve my clients with greater confidence and given me credibility among my professional peers and colleagues. I’ve also seen great networking benefits, both within the community of other CFA charterholders and across industries including accounting or law.
Oscar Hjälmås, CFA, is a chartered financial adviser at Baggette & Company Wealth Management
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There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.
CFA is the Rolls Royce. It’s really hard too. So well done! The financial world is now your oyster.
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