Passing the CFA exam isn’t the end of your quest towards the Chartered Financial Analyst title.
Well, the CFA work experience requirement is quite strict.
Here are the criteria on acceptable CFA work experience, and tips on how you can get this approved for your CFA charter.
Qualified CFA Work Experience
Here are the basic criteria to fulfill the rule on CFA work experience:
1. CFA Experience Requirements on Relevancy
CFA Institute provides this list of job titles that are typically considered relevant. The person must spend at least 50% of the time in investment decision making, or work that adds value to this process.
Here are the job titles of work experience that typically fall into this category:
Definition of Investments
- Publicly traded and privately placed stocks, bonds, and mortgages and their derivatives.
- Commodity-based derivatives and mutual funds.
- Other investment assets, such as real estate and commodities, if held as part of a diversified, securities-oriented investment portfolio.
Other Related Experience
Your work can be counted if:
- It is a supervisory role on someone who involve investment decision-making.
- It is a teaching position on related subjects.
2. Years of Experience
The candidate should have at least 4 years of relevant working experience, which can be gained before, during or after the CFA exam. Only full-time position can be counted.
3. CFA Work Experience Sample
Candidates are required to include specific details on their job and responsibility. Here are a few examples of acceptable and unacceptable job descriptions.
Is There a Way to Verify My Work Experience Before Hand?
Yes, and here are the steps:
1. Those with 4 years of experience
The CFA Institute can validate your experience as long as you are a member. To join as a member, you can either pass Level 1, or take (and pass) the Standards of Practice Exam. This can be taken online and you get the results immediately.
2. Those with less than 4 years of experience
CFA Institute runs a self-assessment tool online that helps to self-evaluate the relevancy of your work experience. It doesn’t spit out a definite yes/no answer, but it provides a good indication and how you can work towards fulfilling the requirements.
Tips on Filling Our Your CFA Work Experience Submission Form
If you are a research analyst, portfolio manager, or a professional whose job falls squarely in the above definition, you are all set. A couple of standard description is fine.
But for candidates who have related experience that may or may not be deem relevant in the eyes of the CFA Institute, what to do?
1. Pay Attention beyond the Job Title
Yes, job titles are big indication on the nature of your job. But it isn’t enough to show whether the work experience is relevant.
2. Package the Job Description to Your Advantage
The job description section is very important. It also gives you the flexibility to better position yourself if the job nature isn’t exactly relevant.
First, focus on the work that fits the criteria in CFA work experience, that is, anything directly related to investment decision making.
Specifically, you can highlight the part of your duties that is closely related to the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) of the CFA exam. We suggest that you refer to the Level 3 exam LOS in particular.
Then, write about the jobs that are indirectly related, such as how the work supports and adds value to investment decision, such as research and analysis done for clients or your team. Try to think out of the blue and really give it a good thought on how you have been helping your colleagues in their work.
Leave out other tasks. You should minimize the noise and distraction that non-related work may create. There is no need to list out everything that you do.
3. Skip Your Work on Managing Your Own Investment
Just to be clear, managing your own investment portfolio does not count as relevant CFA work experience.
4. Don’t Count Part-Time Experience
It has to be full time. Part-time and internships don’t count regardless how glamorous or relevant the work has been.
5. Find a Good Reference
You are asked to submit 3 professional references, or 2 if one of them is a CFA society member. It helps your case considerably if you can get a member to write the reference. Ideally this person is your supervisor, or at least someone whom you work with professionally.
1. Does the CFAI ever deny an application due to lack of relevant experience?
Yes. A common example: the applicant fails to state clearly how his role involves at least 50% of decision making.
2. Do I stand a chance if I work in operations, or other middle / back office in a financial institution?
This is what we mean by borderline cases. It makes it all important to spin the job description in the right way. We do have readers who got the CFA charter with a back office role, so it is doable.
3. What happens if my application is denied again?
You will be given the affiliate member status with a “charter pending” status, meaning you can enjoy all the benefits as a CFAI member except for the voting right.
You can then work towards getting into a role where your duties can directly affect the decision making process. Then, reapply after reaching the 48-month requirements. Good luck!