The International Value of the CFA® Designation

Holding the internationally recognized and respected Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation carries with it career clout, providing entrée into the world’s topnotch financial and investment firms.

Over the past 25 years, the volume  of CFA charterholders worldwide has increased from the roughly 1,000 CFA charters awarded in 1989 to the nearly 9,000 awarded in 2014. CFA charterholders were once found primarily and almost exclusively in North America.  Today they work around the globe. In China alone, for instance, close to 600 individuals were awarded the charter in 2014.

More than 120,000 investment professionals in over 135 countries and territories today are CFA charterholders. This is good news both for business and society. The charter doesn’t just represent the highest level of investment-oriented skills and expertise, it also requires its holder adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards.

Earning the designation is a rigorous process that can involve years of study and preparation.  The Creighton Master of Investment Management and Financial Analysis (MIMFA) program is a great way to prepare for the CFA exams while also earning a valuable masters degree. Students in the program report their studies greatly increased their level of preparation for the CFA exams and likely shortened the time needed to complete the exam process.  The students also note employers recognize the value of achieving a masters degree in addition to passing the CFA exams.

Potential for senior management

World-wide, CFA charterholders have jobs as C-level executives, corporate financial analysts, investment banking analysts and inhabit other critical and desired finance and investment positions. Of Brazil’s more than 750 charterholders, for instance, 7 percent are in the C-suite. In the Cayman Islands, 43 of the approximately 100 CFA charterholders are accountants or auditors. And in the United Kingdom, of the more than 8,500 CFAs in residence, 23 percent are portfolio managers.

From Bangladesh (more than 35 charterholders) to Zimbabwe (more than 40 charterholders), financial and investment firms rely upon experienced professionals with a CFA designation on their resumes. Employers and governments around the world are well aware that the CFA Program curriculum provides the skill sets needed in today’s dynamic global marketplace.

The program is focused on global best practices driven by real-world experiences. The curriculum design leverages the expertise of thousands of top practitioners and financial experts around the world to develop the practical skills needed in the day-to-day profession. This training is relevant to current developments in investment and financial analysis, assuring both advanced and up-to-date skills.

This timeliness of the growth in popularity of the CFA program is crucial in the present regulatory climate, with countries across the globe applying stricter compliance mandates and regimes. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, investment professionals’ reputations suffered. Charterholders not only have the technical skills to build a stronger, more accountable financial industry, they are trained to conform to the highest standards of integrity and are held accountable to the program’s strong Code of Ethics.

Education and ethics

Individuals eager to participate in the global financial arena will benefit by pursuing the education necessary to become a CFA charterholder. Earning the charter requires four years of professional investment experience and the passing of three levels of rigorous examinations.

More than 30 universities worldwide, including Creighton University, offer the specialized training needed to ultimately earn the charter, in partnership with the CFA Institute, the global not-for-profit association of investment professionals that administers the CFA program. The CFA Institute describes the Program Partnership as follows:

“As high profile institutions with global stature, CFA Program Partners are academic leaders and champions of practical, relevant, and thought-provoking investment education programs around the world. Their status as a CFA Program Partner signals to students and the marketplace that their university curriculum is closely tied to professional practice and helps students to be successful when sitting for the CFA exams.”

Creighton is the only Program Partner university that has an online (in addition to the residence version) program designed to cover all three levels of the CFA exam curriculum.

This type of education is critical because it takes multiple years of persistent effort and hundreds of hours of study to pass each exam. All university partners offer the curriculum needed to develop broad investment management and analysis skills but that does not mean the programs are all the same.  Creighton’s is one of the few that actually use the CFA candidate body of knowledge as its program curriculum.  Creighton’s faculty, in addition to possessing impressive academic credentials, have also all earned their CFA charters.  In other words, they don’t just teach the material, they live it.

The tens of thousands of CFA charterholders now working across the globe in diverse financial and investment careers are engaged in making financial markets work more effectively while helping to restore trust in the investment profession. Charterholders can be relied upon to take an ethical stand for what matters most at a time when it has never mattered more. It is small wonder that the CFA designation is widely regarded as a gold standard among investment credentials.

You can learn more about Creighton’s MIMFA program here.


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