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# How much weight does the CFA charter carry

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How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 16:06
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Does anyone on this forum have experience with the CFA charter? I received my charter in 2007 and plan to apply to the top finance schools in rounds one and two.

How do bschools view the charter? Are they aware of it's difficulty level, etc?

Thanks, in advance, for any insights you may provide.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2008, 11:42
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I’m a little late to the game in this thread, but I definitely feel like I need to chime in.

First, let me say major congrats to AZCFA on earning the charter. I also received mine in 2007

In my opinion, the short answer is that it has virtually ZERO impact on your application

Here’s a couple of examples, all else being equal, how a CFA Charterholder stacks up, from adcom’s perspective (in my opinion):

Top 30 University > Non-top 30 + CFA
740 GMAT > 700 GMAT + CFA
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer > CFA
Attorney > CFA
International Experience > CFA
Military experience > CFA
Government work experience (SEC, DHS, Working on Capital Hill, etc.) > CFA
Team captain in college sport > CFA
3.7 GPA > 3.2 GPA + CFA
Olympic athlete (with or without a medal) > CFA
First generation to go to college > CFA
Liberal arts major taking stats + calc prior to MBA and receiving A’s > CFA
CPA = CFA
CFA Level I Candidate < CFA Level II Candidate = CFA Level III Candidate = CFA Charterholder

Obviously, these things don’t work in a vacuum and no two candidates will have similar backgrounds. However, if you match two candidates side by side that generally have the same background with the exception of top 30 school or GMAT, etc, etc, the folks on the left side of the equation will be taken again and again over the CFA Charterholder. The last example (CFA Level I < CFA Level II, etc.) in particular pains me to say, but there is no way that adcom can tell me what the difference is between a Level II or Level III candidate or "successfully passed Level I, successfully passed Level II, etc, etc.) Not going to happen..

So why is there no value placed on the CFA? Because adcom DOES NOT know what the CFA is or what it is about. They may say they do, but I bet is you asked them what it stands for, 9/10 would say “Certified Financial Analyst.” (I think Sudden and AZCFA just cringed ) At best, they may know that it involves some tests. They do not know that it requires 300+ hours of study PER exam, all while working full-time. They do not know that pass rates are sub ~40%, which happen to be at historic lows. They don’t know that each level has ~2500 pages of curriculum . They don’t know that you can put in 300+hours of studying and still walk away from the exam and FAIL because the exam is just that brutal.

I have first-hand experience with talking about this with adcom officers at Kellogg, USC Marshall, and Duke. I have second-hand knowledge of experiences with adcom officers at Cornell (the dean of admissions, in fact) and Georgetown. The bottom line is that they really DO NOT KNOW what it is. And honestly, I’m not exaggerating or trying to overplay this.

Charterholder do not regularly go 3/3. It is just not that easy. Just as quickly as somebody can point out that they know X number of people that did, I can easily point out 10X number of people that failed one or more of the levels. Also, just to elaborate on the pass rates...June 2008 pass rates were 35%. This does not include people that do not even show up for the exam (for a variety of reasons, but I would say that the overwhelming reason is because they could not handle the curriculum). Historically 25% don’t even make it to the testing center. If you factor that in, pass rates for Level I are closer to 26%. Add to that, pass rates for Level II and Level III last year were at all-time historical lows, 40% and 50% respectively.

A couple of examples.

I have two friends that went successfully through Levels I and II with me. Yet they both failed Level III last year after putting in 350+ hours each. One works at PIMCO as a product specialist in fixed income, while the other works at the SEC performing due diligence on hedge funds and broker dealers.

Another example is a friend of mine that works in PE and went to UCLA undergrad. He also has about 4-5 years of IB experience in the gaming/casino industry. Let me pause here for a quick second. Just based on the VERY brief credentials that I just mentioned, you would probably think to yourself, “must be a smart dude, PE is a tough nut to crack.” Yes, you are right!!! Yet it took him two attempts to pass level II and three tries to pass Level III. He spent six years going after the Charter!!!

I have another friend that I work with. She’s absolutely brilliant. She does portfolio risk management and has worked in the industry for ~12 years. I can’t recall where she went to undergrad, but she has an MS Finance degree. She failed Level I two times. She just took it again this June, but I haven’t heard back from her on the results, which were just released yesterday.

Should there be more value attached to it by adcom. YESSSSSSSS!!!! There are only ~90,000 charterholders WORLDWIDE. That’s not very many, especially considering the CFA designation is not a new thing. It has been around for 45 years. It’s a major accomplishment and not many people can say that they have done so.

Some people play sports, some people volunteer, some people work long hours, some people travel. The value of the CFA for admission to top MBA programs should not be seen as any lower than these other activities. So what if it doesn’t show teamwork? So what if it doesn’t show leadership skills. So what if it doesn’t show that you are saving the world? Are the MBA committees so brainwashed that only those items are the main criteria by which they judge people?

Should they not judge people based on commitment, desire, or passion? Should they not judge people based on their ability to emotionally navigate an independent excavation, not understood by even their friends and family? Should they not be interested in people that set out to reach a VERY challenging goal that is (really at a minimum) three years down the road and these people actually achieve this goal. Should they not be interested in people that are the best of the best in their field? The CFA Charter is THE measure by which you can judge someone that works in the finance + investment management positions.

Any CFA Charterholder by default must possess these qualities. It is not possible to get through such a rigorous program without such traits. It also would seem to me that these are highly desirable qualities to have and the types of people that would add significant value to MBA Programs. I would think that they want people in their program that are passionate and dedicated. People that are willing to put in the necessary time and effort and are successful, will certainly be successful in Top MBA Programs. They are the type of people that will put in the extra time to prepare for interviews, research companies, and go the extra mile in preparing for a group presentation.

I'm not saying that adcom should necessarily take a CFA Charterholder over someone that has great leadership experience. Obviously you would like to Charterholder to have some nice experience of his/her own. What I'm saying is that there should be more to it than the superficial glance that it currently gets.

I also think there is a little bit of blame on the part of the CFA Institute. The fact of the matter is that they do not market the Charter towards top business schools. It is marketed towards the industry. I get that, it makes sense, since a big part of the CFA is employability. Also, the industry has noticed and the CFA designation has become a huge asset in the workplace. At the same time, I think that the Institute needs to do a bit of marketing at the top b-schools, since it will benefit the designation, those that have attained it, and the schools that admit Charterholders.

Good luck to sudden and IHTG. I’m pulling for you and hoping that you guys get the good news next month when the results come out.

And by the way, I definitely hit >1,000 hours of study time.

ryguy
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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09 Apr 2009, 02:48
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The OP asked how much weight the CFA charter carries in the admission process, so ultimately you have to look at it from an AdCom perspective.

Whether the CFA charter is harder/easier than the CPA, the bar exam, the GMAT, etc. is hardly relevant. Why? Because the AdCom is not going to use the CFA/CPA/bar exam/GMAT score as the tiebreaker when picking candidates (I don't think so at least.)

Are you smart enough? Do you have a good work ethic? Do you have good leadership skills? Do you have good interpersonal skills (i.e. can you work well in a team)? Do you have a unique background that adds diversity to the cohort? etc. These are the types of questions the AdCom is going to ask when reviewing your application.

A CFA charter certainly shows intellectual capacity and good work ethic. However, these two factors can be shown in various other ways, so it's not going to be a gamebreaker in any way. It surely does not show any of the softer skills many schools crave in their applicants.

For those who argue that the CFA should be valued more in the admission process, I'm interested to know why. Because it is a very difficult certification to obtain and requires a lot of work are not good enough reasons, despite what you think. Why? AdComs just want to make sure you are smart *ENOUGH*, but they are not just looking for pure smarts. Admission is not about accepting the smartest 350~900 applicants. Otherwise (pardon this somewhat-flattering racial stereotype) most of the top schools will admit only Indian IT engineers with an 800 GMAT score. It is about meeting some arbitrary cut-off mark for intelligence that the AdCom sets, and anything beyond that is gravy. AdCom is going to look at your decent GMAT score, your CFA charter and go "Ok, this guy is smart enough and has a good work ethic. What else does he bring to the table?"

I feel the real strength of the CFA certification lies in its impact post-MBA. It is a professional certification that will open doors that would be otherwise closed to many of your fellow graduates. That's where you get the benefit of the CFA.

So I agree with most of the posters, don't get the CFA just to improve your admission chances (the effort/reward ratio is horrible.) But I disagree that it's undervalued, I think it is valued quite accurately from the AdCom's perspective.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 16:52
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Schools definitely know about the CFA. However, I dont know how valuable it is. I know people CFAs who have gotten in and ones who haven't. Its pretty common for finance folks to have it so I dont think it really is a deciding factor. Of course its another nice thing to have on your resume but its going to take a lot more than the CFA to get into a top school.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 17:10
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terp06 wrote:
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
I believe it's given much less weight than it deserves. Ryguy knows a lot more about this though, I'm sure he'll post something on this thread in a bit.

Agreed. I don't believe that many Adcom members realize the dedication and amount of work it takes to get a CFA. They almost seem to equate it to be similar to getting a CPA.

That's exactly right. With all do respect to folks pursuing the CPA, it's not even comparable. The CFA exams are more difficult by a mile. In fact, they are significantly more difficult than:

1) Any test you will ever take as an undergrad
2) GMAT
3) Anything you are likely to do in business school
4) I've heard several lawyers say it's harder than the bar

I don't want to exaggerate here, because the exams are definitely passable, but it is a huge commitment to get through the three levels. Imagine studying for 300-400 (if not more) hours, walking into a six hour beast of a test, and then, statistically speaking, probably failing. CFA Institute just released the level one pass results -- 35% made the cut. Most of the people taking the exam have BBAs and MBAs already, so that gives you a sense of the difficulty.

Anyway, I do not think it matters much to b-school. I think the people who were going to get in, get in whether they have it or not, and the people who were not going to get in, don't get in whether they have it or not. In fact, I think CFA is almost a replacement for an MBA -- a lot of jobs say MBA or CFA required. From that standpoint, business schools are unlikely to give it the full weight it deserves (just my opinion), since that really legitamizes it from a competitive standpoint (no to mention that it doesn't teach you leadership, team work or how to suck up to your boss prior to asking for a good recommendation). Anyway, CFA > MBA in terms of finance, but obviously you will not get the well rounded business perspective you get in an MBA program.

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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2008, 06:27
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I agree with part of what river said. A lot of people do have the CFA charter or some progress prior to applying to b-school. I think the contribution the charter makes to your candidancy breaks down along two lines:

- What else have you done? If you have "just" passed the CFA and worked during the last four years (or however much work ex you have), join the crowd. The charter will not be a differentiating factor for you. If you did the above and simultaneously ran a non-profit (or something else interesting), then you stand out. I tend to think the relationship here is not linear -- there is a multiplicative effect in terms of how impressive you look if you were able to add extras on to your already demanding work ex (theorhetically anyway since finance is pretty demanding in general) and CFA candidacy.

- It depends on what you did prior to your CFA candidacy. If you have a BBA in finance, completed the CFA charter and then apply to Wharton / Chicago to study finance, the adcom will probably ask, "Why? You already know finance." This type of candidate is not very compelling since they are pretty narrowly focused on one type of skill, likely to the exclusion of other skills. If, however, you come from a non-finance / econ background and pass the exams in quick succession without a prior relevant background, I think you prove to the adcom that you can throw down with business school types and succeed in a variety of disciplines (provided your GPA is strong).

For example, who is more impressive? The guy who majored in finance and then passed 3/3 the exams, or the guy who majored in liberal arts and then passed the exams 3/3? It's pretty clear in my mind that the liberal arts guy probably had a much tougher time getting through the exams since he had no background -- to me, this is a lot more impressive (full disclosure: I was a liberal arts major). The adcoms definitely recognize this (not to mention that the CFA serves as a kind of alternate transcript of quant based study for the more qualitative folks out there like myself).

I also disagree with part of what river said. Statistically speaking, the program takes four years to complete and most people fail at least one level. I don't think most top b-school applicants go 3/3, though I would admit that competitive folks are more likely to have done so. L3 results are not out for me yet, but I expect the pass rate to be around 50%. That means the probability of going 3/3 is 7.8% (.39 * .4 * .5). The number isn't adjusted for retakers that skew the data (limited data availability), but I would bet good money that if you go 3/3, you are in the top 10-15%, and if you do it in the minimum possible time (18 months instead of the average of four years), you are better still. Not a lot of people pull it off. I expect that if I go 3/3 in 18 months, I will be in the top 1-5% (roughly) of state school liberal arts majors taking the exam -- that could be huge for my candidacy.

One last thought: I think the effect of the CFA on your candidacy depends heavily on the schools you apply to. Schools like Stanford specifically state that they like people who travel outside the lines to accomplish something they believe in. So if you are the typical BBA -> CFA, that probably is not a positive for you. I was waitlisted at Stanford this year, and I think a big part of that was the progress I made on the CFA exams (L3 candidate at the time of applicantion), since it showed that I was willing to "suspend disbelief to pursue a career goal" (or whatever the Stanford phrasing is). (The CFA is highly relevant to what I want to do in my career, and my story makes sense). In contrast, I didn't even get a look at Harvard. So, at the end of the day, the answer is "it depends."
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2008, 08:26
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I apologize if my post came across as abrasive or degrading, sudden. I'm just calling it like I see it, after hearing these arguments for the 1000th time. (btw, I'm equally as qualified as you are to talk to the difficulty of the exams.)

Obviously your feedback is a good data point(s). But I've also heard other Charterholders' feedback from M7 schools which was essentially what I represented in my post, so I take that data and combine it with yours. I understand that you will want to overweight your own experience, but I'm just trying to draw a generalization here.

Just so we're clear, I never said the Charter wasn't respected in industry. Indeed, I recognized that it shows both a level of commitment to the IM industry and a propensity for setting and achieving a desired goal. When I talk about "glorifying" it, I'm talking about all those statements you hear like, "probably at least 1,000 hours of study." Now, I know they recently revised the 250 hours to 350 hours, but can you say with a straight face that you actually studied 350 hours or more for each exam?

There are many professional exams, both more and less difficult than the CFA exams, yet we never hear about how difficult they are or how they are better than an MBA. My main point is to provide a tempered viewpoint, as an insider, on the matter and that maybe, just maybe, CFA Candidates and Charterholders, myself included, are a little guilty of self-aggrandizement.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2008, 12:04
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A couple of thoughts...

Re: Difficulty

To me, the hard part of the exams is the volume of the material, not the complexity of the material. I think most people don't have any trouble understanding the material. But the time commitment is enormous. So I don't think there's any correlation between smarts and passing the exams, or between getting a top 20 MBA and passing the exams. If anything, it might be harder for a top 20 MBAer to pass, simply because he will most likely be in a pretty demanding and time-consuming job, which would make it harder to put in the 20-25 hours of study needed per week.

I think all of the adcoms are quite familiar with the CFA, as well as with all of the other types of certifications in fields like engineering and computer science. In regards to the challenge and time commitment required for the CFA, do the adcoms treat it "fairly"? But you have to remember, the adcoms highly value things like leadership, teamwork, and community service, none of which is part of the CFA program. So the moral is you can't just get a CFA and think you'll be a lock--you need to do other things that demonstrate leadership and teamwork.

naturallight, CFA
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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08 Apr 2009, 13:01
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spgny wrote:
I also have a CFA charter and would like to go back for an MBA....PT at Stern best for me currently. if that does not pan out b/c of missed deadline..might try FT Wharton, Columbia, or Booth 2010.

This is a complicated question...if you like your job and you plan to stay there, Sloan PT would be a no-brainer. If you want to relocate/change jobs, then the FT programs might be a better option.

spgny wrote:
From my limited knowledge, I am assuming that given that I intend to specialize in finance, that this is a progression of my personal improvement/dedication to profession, and that Stern specializes in finance...that CFA would have more weight. More weight then it would for someone looking for an MBA for career change or applying to a school that does not specialize in finance...

I agree. However, I would wonder why anyone who has no finance background or interest in finance is taking the CFA. I like MIT and I think it's a great school but I like the FT schools you listed above better for finance. Without a doubt, "finance" schools are going to put more emphasis on the CFA than "marketing" focused schools.

spgny wrote:
Basically not mentioning CFA b/c I want to emphasize that I have the ability and discipline to self-study over 600 hours, passed an extremely difficult set of tests, etc....

That's how I approached it.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2009, 14:20
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pguard wrote:
Now that my app season is over, I'll revive this thread with my $0.02... +5 kudos to pguard. Great post. I agree with pguard that the value of the CFA designation will be realized in the recruiting season. Everyone and their mom going for IM will have “CFA Level I Candidate” listed on their resume. It’s easy to do; spend the$900 to register with the CFA Institute and sit for the June or December exam. For those interested in IM, you probably need to bite the bullet and do this, because everyone else trying to break into the field will have this on their resume and it will act as a brief talking point in the interview as well. The great thing about having earned the designation is having it in big@ss letters next to your name on your resume. For example:

ryguy904, CFA

So when your resume is getting screened (let’s be honest-this is a 30 second process), recruiters will pay attention to this and respect you, no doubt. At the end of the day, it’s another network and another community that one becomes a member of. Whether one loves or loathes the CFA Charter, is irrelevant, there is a sense of immediate respect when a Charterholder crosses the path of another Charterholder. Most likely someone interviewing you for your internship or full-time job has the CFA or is at some stage of completing the program. What happens after that (i.e., how you do in an interview, present yourself, do your stock pitch, etc) will make or break you, but having the designation is a huge head start. My suspicion is this will be a big boost to getting on closed lists (or in the door for self-directed recruiting) for investment management opportunities. I'd also suspect that the reason that not as many people know whether or not it's an advantage for MBA recruiting, is because not many people have the Charter. (11,000 charterholders in NY, 4,500 in Boston, 3,400 in Chicago, and 2,800 in San Francisco, and in total about 100,000 across the globe---folks that IS NOT a lot of people. For instance, there are ~350,000 CPA's in the United State alone).

In terms of the value it has during an admissions interview, it totally depends on who you interview with. When I interview with a Columbia alum who works in PE, he acknowledged it (without me saying anything), said it aligns well with my goals, and we moved on. That’s really the best you can hope for. For those in the know (like my CBS interviewer), there really wasn’t a reason to dwell on the CFA any further. And frankly, I’d rather dedicate my 30-45 minutes of interview time dedicated to my personal life, what I like to do for fun, or my interesting work experience, rather than how I studied by myself, did practice exams, and made flashcards for three six-hour exams over a three year period.

My Duke interviewer was a second year student and didn’t know what the designation was. This is inexcusable, in my opinion, but it’s not the end of the world. Moreover, there really isn’t anything that I could have done about this. Sure he said, “Is it like the CPA” and I wanted to sock him the face, but in the end, it’s an uphill, losing battle trying to explain it. It’s also not really worth the time trying to extract value out of explaining the charter (or various levels one has completed). The person will just end up with some fuzzy image of some test that you took and wonder why you would even bother bringing this up in an interview. In the end, if the interviewer (alum, adcom, etc.) knows what the CFA is, GREAT. If not, I think in hindsight, I would choose NOT to bring it up in an interview. I’d rather spend the three minutes discussing something else…

I also concur with pguard in that, generally speaking, it’s not really worth dedicating much wordcount in an essay. With the exception of my Darden app, the ONLY mention that I made went something like this:

“I will utilize my Corporate Finance experience and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, along with the skills that I will gain from <insert school here>, to develop valuable investment strategies.”

( I'll accept nominal royality fees of \$75 per person who uses this line or any derivation of it in an essay. )

The Darden “Why MBA” essay question was a little different in that it asked for pivotal decisions that I have made that led me to decide to pursue an MBA. Earning the designation was certainly one of them. However, I ended up only using three sentences (73 words out of 499 in the essay) to discuss the relevance of the CFA in my desire to earn an MBA.

On my essays last year, I put much more emphasis on the CFA designation. I called it out more in my essays, including the Chicago PowerPoint presentation. In the end, I think this was one (of several) mistake that I made as an unsuccessful applicant. Although I’m not going to go through an entire “how to write successful essays” spiel right now, I think that it is critical to be targeted in your essays. Think about it for a second…what was I demonstrating by discussing the CFA at length? That I could pass rigorous exams? That I can study on my own? That I have a solid understanding of finance fundamentals and the investment management process? Yeah, sure, I suppose. But in the scheme of things, I’m not really differentiating myself from hundreds of other applicants (that could all answer yes to one or more of these questions). I’m not telling adcom who I am as a person or selling them on why they need to accept me. When I strategized this year, I was very tactical in the stories that I told. Each sentence of every essay that I wrote needed to add value to my candidacy and the meaning of my story. I spent more time talking about my work experience (which in all honesty, is by far my biggest selling point).

Although I’m certainly proud of my accomplishment of earning the CFA Charter, it comes down to understanding the application process and the audience.

-ryguy
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The True Value of YOUR MBA: http://gmatclub.com/forum/103-t64239
GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread: http://gmatclub.com/forum/103-t63245
How Much Weight Does the CFA Carry with Admissions: http://gmatclub.com/forum/103-t68059

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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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02 Dec 2015, 20:44
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 16:54
I believe it's given much less weight than it deserves. Ryguy knows a lot more about this though, I'm sure he'll post something on this thread in a bit.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 16:58
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
I believe it's given much less weight than it deserves. Ryguy knows a lot more about this though, I'm sure he'll post something on this thread in a bit.

Agreed. I don't believe that many Adcom members realize the dedication and amount of work it takes to get a CFA. They almost seem to equate it to be similar to getting a CPA.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 17:25
One thing about the pass rate of the CFA...remember that includes everyone who takes it not just folks applying to top business schools. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people who have CFA's and applying to top schools passed the first time. Remember the average GMAT is in the mid 500s yet at the top schools its 700+...the people applying to top 10-15 b-schools are the cream of the crop. I think adcoms do realize how tough it is but its not a very unique thing for b-school applicants, and the people holding them often are competing against other people who also have CFAs...you aren't competing against some engineers who passed the PE.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 17:32
CFA exams are difficult and passing them are a nice accomplishment; however this really has no bearing on the weight they should be afforded in the MBA application process. Schools are interested in things that are relevant to succeeding in business school and getting a job. CFA is nice (very nice for some fields), but it's probably not give "full value" based on how difficult it is to obtain because it doesn't relate all that directly to many aspects of MBA study.

I wouldn't get a CFA to improve the odds of getting into business school (way to much effort for marginal benefit), but if you have a CFA, then play it up in your essays and talk about how you will combine it with your MBA to achieve your future goals. Do that, and you'll help yourself a lot.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 19:12
riverripper wrote:
One thing about the pass rate of the CFA...remember that includes everyone who takes it not just folks applying to top business schools. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people who have CFA's and applying to top schools passed the first time. Remember the average GMAT is in the mid 500s yet at the top schools its 700+...the people applying to top 10-15 b-schools are the cream of the crop. I think adcoms do realize how tough it is but its not a very unique thing for b-school applicants, and the people holding them often are competing against other people who also have CFAs...you aren't competing against some engineers who passed the PE.

I think you're underestimating the difficulty of the CFA. I can name 3 people off the top of my head that have Top 20 MBAs and weren't able to make it through the CFA program. Just because you can get into a top 10-15 MBA program that does not mean you can pass the first time. Also, you know that its three seperate exams taken over 3 years right? So, passing the first time doesn't mean passing one exam with a 35% pass rate it means passing three exams (with roughly 35%, 40% and 60% pass rates, respectively). It's impossible for somebody that has not gone through the CFA program to understand how difficult it is.

I think Sudden hit the nail on the head:

sudden wrote:
With all do respect to folks pursuing the CPA, it's not even comparable. The CFA exams are more difficult by a mile. In fact, they are significantly more difficult than:

1) Any test you will ever take as an undergrad
2) GMAT
3) Anything you are likely to do in business school
4) I've heard several lawyers say it's harder than the bar

I don't want to exaggerate here, because the exams are definitely passable, but it is a huge commitment to get through the three levels. Imagine studying for 300-400 (if not more) hours, walking into a six hour beast of a test, and then, statistically speaking, probably failing. CFA Institute just released the level one pass results -- 35% made the cut. Most of the people taking the exam have BBAs and MBAs already, so that gives you a sense of the difficulty.

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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 20:07
Not arguing the difficulty of the CFA process. Just stating that they are like Harvard alums applying to top schools...more common than you would think. Seems that most people I talked to who have completed the CFA process, passed all three first time around. Now I know people who failed once or twice wont go bragging about that...but lots of people say they passed the first time around.

Pelihu is right though, the best benefit it provides is how combining it with your MBA will help you. Also once you are in chances are you can waive out of lots of core requirements...that is probably the best thing about the CFA for a lot of folks.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 20:25
Thanks for all the feedback. The part that I hope most adcoms acknowledge is that a charterholder with good work progression has progressed under a significant amout of stress - not to mention the 400+ hours of studying each year.

Also, if everyone you know passed the CFA on their first try....you know some really smart people. I can say, with absolute certainty, that the CFA charter is much harder than Harvard undergrad. Comparing the CFA to a 700+ on the GMAT is apples to oranges.

Thanks for all the feedback.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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29 Jul 2008, 20:28
AZCFA wrote:
Thanks for all the feedback. The part that I hope most adcoms acknowledge is that a charterholder with good work progression has progressed under a significant amout of stress - not to mention the 400+ hours of studying each year.

Also, if everyone you know passed the CFA on their first try....you know some really smart people. I can say, with absolute certainty, that the CFA charter is much harder than Harvard undergrad. Comparing the CFA to a 700+ on the GMAT is apples to oranges.

Thanks for all the feedback.

Agreed. I'll admit it right off the bat. I purchased all of the books for CFA Level 1, spent 2 weeks studying, and said forget it and sold them. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who passes through and gets a CFA charter. Regardless of your pedigree or your intelligence, the CFA shows anyone that you were passionate, hard working, and committed to a course of study that is far more rigorous than anything 90% of your MBA classmates have went through.

There are many subjective ways to look at a kid who graduated from Harvard. He could have done it 100 different ways. The CFA however is a level playing field. If you have a CFA charter, I could also care less what your GMAT Quant Percentile was. I'm extremely confident that you would succeed academically in any MBA program in the world.

If only more Adcoms would see it that way.
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Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2008, 07:38
I think those in the CFA program tend to argue that it should be more important than it currently seems to be in the admissions process. I also think that those who have gone through it also tend to glorify how difficult the exams are, how many hours they had to study, etc. It's a badge of honor, kind of like how i-bankers talk about how they work 120 hour weeks. I really don't think admissions read a whole lot into the program other than it shows commitment to the industry. No offense to sudden, but I don't think they care all that much if someone went 3/3 in 18 months or passed the exams from a liberal arts degree vs. a business degree. It's just a way of showing that you have a desired goal and are willing to take some reasonably difficult exams to accomplish them. There are equally difficult exams in other fields that I'm sure admissions view in the same way.
Re: How much weight does the CFA charter carry   [#permalink] 30 Jul 2008, 07:38

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