The CFA® Way — To Wall Street and Beyond

Becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst® can be a door opener to a high-paying career on Wall Street, making the rigor of earning the CFA®designation well worth the effort. Once earned, the designation often results in financially rewarding careers on “Wall Street” — a catchall phrase that doesn’t necessarily refer to a location but rather describes various professions in the financial sector such as portfolio managers, research analysts and hedge fund managers. Many financial firms including Wall Street firms are explicitly looking for the highly specialized skill sets CFA charterholders possess. While a more generalized Master of Business Administration degree still packs plenty of punch, the well-regarded CFA designation and specialized graduate degrees in finance and investments are increasingly considered a superior alternative. Creighton’s Master of Investment Management and Financial Analysis (MIMFA) program provides detailed preparation for CFA exams while enabling students to earn a respected Masters degree.

One reason CFA charterholders are in such demand is the sheer rigor of the CFA program — the need to pass challenging exams in portfolio management, investment analysis and valuation in order to earn the designation.  Another is the four years of professional experience CFA program candidates must have before being able to call themselves a CFA charterholder.

A fast-growing cohort

While there are no statistics on the total number of CFA charterholders working for Wall Street firms, a study (2) of the resumes of employees at such large firms as Goldman Sachs, UBS and Credit Suisse indicate a fair proportion of CFA designees. The bulk of CFA charterholders are employed by the asset management industry, the study noted.

According to the findings of another study (1), the top three careers on Wall Street for CFA holders are portfolio manager, research analyst and CEO, in that order. Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of portfolio managers represented in the report were CFA charterholders.

“CVs mentioning ‘Goldman Sachs’ are most likely to contain some mention of CFA qualifications,” the study stated. Among these individuals is Abby Joseph Cohen, Goldman’s senior U.S. investment strategist. Other well-known CFA charterholders include Sir John Marks Templeton, founder of Templeton Mutual Funds; Charles E. Haldeman, former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and former chairman and CEO of Putnam Investments; and William H. Donaldson, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

A challenging yet rewarding path

Earning the CFA designation is far from a walk in the park. The three exams required are grueling, which is why only one in five candidates successfully pass all three exams and meet the professional and ethical requirements to earn the designation according to the CFA Institute.

To successfully navigate this rigorous exam process candidates need to prepare themselves intensively. One way to do so is for candidates to study the exam topics in a graduate classroom setting.  The CFA Institute, the global not-for-profit association of investment professionals that administers the CFA program, created its Program Partnership to recognize Universities who incorporate the CFA curriculum into their classes and who meet the CFA Institute Program Partner standards. Creighton’s program is among a limited number of graduate programs internationally to offer specialized training to help industry professionals sharpen their skills in preparation for the exams.

Not all these universities are of the same caliber. It makes sense to check the credentials of faculty members to ensure they have earned the CFA charter. As part of this due diligence, interested parties also should seek out a university that is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills required in the investment profession. At Creighton, all faculty members have earned the CFA charter themselves. It’s also important to think beyond the education itself. One of the values of a graduate degree is the link it provides to alumni from the program.  For example, Creighton’s MIMFA program began in 2006 and, because it has both residence and fully online versions, the program has alums across the United States and in several countries outside the US.   

Values and education matter

A job on Wall Street today demands significant educational preparation and high ethical and professional standards. This dovetails with the Jesuit values that are central to a Creighton education. The university embraces critical thought and responsible action guided by on moral and ethical principles.

The ethical challenges and the rapidly evolving technology of finance mean financial firms are confronting increasingly stringent regulatory and other compliance mandates. At Creighton, learn what is demanded and then live it.

To request more information about Creighton’s MIMFA program, click here.


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