Is pursuing the CFA charter worth it?

Matthew “Matt” Caire, senior portfolio manager and CFA instructor, provides insight on pursuing your CFA Charter.

Is pursuing the CFA charter worth it?

So, you have decided to pursue the CFA charter? Congratulations, you have now taken the first step in joining a global network of over 170,000 investment professionals across 165 countries who have passed all three levels of the exam program and carry the right to use the CFA® designation after their name! The journey to earning the CFA is definitely more akin to a “marathon” rather than a “sprint.” It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the challenge ahead of you as most candidates study an average of 300 hours for each of the three exams, with the average candidate taking over 4+ years to complete all three levels. Considering this, one might rationally ask, “Is pursuing the CFA charter even worth it?”

Why pursue the CFA?

The CFA designation is recognized as one of the top distinctions globally within the investment profession. In addition to joining a global community of thought leaders and industry professionals, earning the CFA designation is a reliable signal to employers that you have demonstrated the knowledge, discipline, and commitment required to succeed in a highly competitive industry. The CFA charter is relevant in a variety of careers including investment management, risk management, private wealth, banking, and consulting, just to name a few. Furthermore, the prospects for career advancement and increases in total compensation may be expected for candidates who ultimately earn the CFA marks. In today’s day and age, it is not uncommon to find that earning the CFA charter is required as a prerequisite to even apply for certain jobs/roles in the financial services industry.

Self-study vs. Test Prep Course

There are effectively two different paths to preparing for the CFA exams, namely self-study or enrolling in a test prep course. Which path should you choose? That all depends on the specifics of YOU, your current workload or day-to-day schedule, and ultimately which option you feel most comfortable with. There is certainly nothing wrong with self-study, but there are many benefits to enrolling in a test prep course.

First, you will experience a learning environment whereby the concepts, knowledge base and practice problems have already been structured for you in a well-laid-out, orderly fashion. This aspect can be very appealing for those of us with a full-time job and other commitments, whereby finding time to study on our own can be limited and/or challenging at the very least.

Second, when you come across concepts or problems that you might initially struggle with (and trust me, we ALL experience this when preparing for an exam, especially for one as rigorous as the CFA), you have the opportunity to ask questions in a classroom setting with an experienced instructor to help guide you through the learning process.

Lastly, as a student in the test prep course, you will meet, interact, and learn with your fellow classmates who are all going through the same journey at the same point in time. It is not uncommon for students to form study groups or work together on tough concepts outside of the formal test prop course hours. In short, the test prep route allows students to benefit from the networking opportunities offered with their fellow peers in the prep course. This same network will not only assist you in achieving your CFA designation but will also become part of your professional network as you are working in the field.

The Rice University CFA Review Course

Why should you choose Rice as your preferred CFA test prep course? All of our instructors are CFA charterholders; they have been in your shoes and know what it takes to successfully pass the exams. Houston has a large concentration of CFA charterholders who are active in the local CFA Society (the “CFA Society of Houston”) and carry many years of relevant industry experience. We view this as a competitive advantage as Rice's Glasscock School of Continuing Studies can draw upon a deep well of local industry experts to successfully deliver a high-quality, effective prep course offering to aspiring CFA candidates such as yourself. Rice University has partnered with a leading CFA test prep provider for the curriculum, content and learning materials, and be taught by our experienced team of instructors throughout the program.

Are you working late, or just do not have time to drive onto campus? No problem, that is one reason why our review course is offered virtually via Zoom. This format provides our students with the flexibility of remote learning and attendance in the live prep course, while still providing the highest quality of instruction. Students in our program will further benefit from the ability to add Rice University to their resume upon successful completion of the course.

At this point in your journey, the finish line might seem far away, however, as a student in the Rice University CFA Review Course, you will not be making this journey alone. Our highly experienced team of instructors is ready to guide you and your fellow students along the way, and as a CFA charterholder, I can resoundingly tell you that the journey is well worth it.

About the Author

Matthew “Matt” Caire is the Senior Portfolio Manager for Fixed Income Investments at Vaughan Nelson a Houston-based investment manager. Mr. Caire is directly responsible for the prudent management and successful oversight of approximately $2.5 billion of client assets. He joined Vaughan Nelson in June 2021 and is the lead portfolio manager for the firm’s Limited Maturity strategy. Mr. Caire also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Lone Oak Trust Company. Prior to his current role, Mr. Caire helped lead the Investment Team at Houston Trust Company as a Senior Vice President of Investments. Mr. Caire carries over 13 years of experience in the Financial Services industry spanning various roles across Investment Advisory, Trust, and Institutional Investment Management firms.

In addition, he currently serves as the Investments Instructor for the CFP Program and he is also the Academic Director for the CFA Review course at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Mr. Caire graduated with honors from Texas State University with an undergraduate degree in Business Marketing. He has earned a Master of Finance degree from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and carries the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations. Mr. Caire is also an Eagle Scout and serves as an Arbitrator for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). Mr. Caire is actively involved in his local community through various professional organizations. He is currently the Founder of the Houston RIA Roundtable group and serves on the Investment Committee for the DaCamera Endowment Fund. Prior to that, Mr. Caire served as the Co-Chair for the Market Technicians Association of Houston and was a Board Member for the Financial Planning Association of Houston.

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