Posted By: Kaplan Schweser
Updated: October 14, 2016
The CFA® charter is a globally recognized financial designation that serves as a badge of knowledge, commitment, perseverance, skill, and hard work. Earning your CFA charter sets you up well for growth in your career as a finance professional. But exactly what kind of a finance career can you get as a Chartered Financial Analyst®?
CFA Institute conducted a survey of all charterholders to determine their most commonly held job functions. Based on their findings, we’ve detailed the most common job functions of CFA charterholders below to give you a clear picture of what type of career you could pursue if you choose to earn the CFA charter.
Leading all job titles, 22% of CFA charterholders are employed as portfolio managers—a career that made #19 on CNN Money’s 2013 list of Best Jobs in America. Portfolio managers are in charge of a fund or group of funds. They spend their days working with analysts, researchers, and clients to stay current on the markets and business news. They make decisions to buy and sell assets throughout the day as the markets fluctuate. A great portfolio manager is able to see beyond the surface and make informed decisions for their clients based on expert insight and experience.
It’s a vague title, but research analysts play an important and specific role in the business world. It’s also a job title held by 15% of global CFA charterholders. Research analysts use a combination of mathematical processes and qualitative data to provide analysis of something that’s already happened and make future predictions. If you give a research analyst a batch of data, they are able to process that data and provide recommendations based exclusively on the data. The intelligence they gather is incredibly valuable to companies, as it’s used to help the business determine its future direction and prioritize goals and activities.
Approximately 7% of all CFA charterholders in the world have made it to the C-suite. The chief executives are the most important and influential people in a company—they make the big decisions that drive the success of the organization. Chief-level executive positions can include chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief financial officer (CFO). These positions are considered the pinnacle of business achievement. The day-to-day operations of a chief-level executive vary, depending on the company structure and the specific executive role the individual plays in the organization.
Consultants are highly sought-after experts in business that companies rely on to provide valuable financial advice to help guide big decisions. Companies hire consultants to bring an independent expert perspective to business valuation, provide economic forecasts and analyses, and identify opportunities to grow shareholder value. Nearly 6% of all CFAs work as consultants.
Risk is a natural part of doing business. Every successful company takes a certain amount of risk to get to, and stay, where they are. They rely on financial risk managers to help them identify and assess potential risks that the company faces, or could face in the future. Approximately 5% of CFA charterholders work in risk management, operating as forecasters to help their company anticipate changes and avoid potential financial pitfalls.
There is some crossover between research analysts and financial analysts. In fact, some companies use these two titles interchangeably. But the biggest difference between the two is that financial analysts go beyond the data inputs to form their analysis. They conduct research and provide advice considering macro and microeconomics, and are relied upon as critical advisors with regard to investment decisions. Globally, 5% of CFAs work in the profession of corporate financial analysis.
Relationships are cornerstones of successful business operation. Approximately 5% of CFA charterholders work to help their company build and maintain critical business relationships. The ultimate idea of relationship management is to remove or minimize volatility from a business relationship by taking an active role in upholding and analyzing its current status, as well as the factors that influence it.
Another 5% of all CFA charterholders operate as financial advisors. These professionals typically help clients with investments, tax laws, and insurance product selection decisions. They help individuals create short-term and long-term financial goals, as well as a financial plan for achieving their goals. Some advisors make investments for clients and provide tax advice as well.
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