Chartered Financial Analyst Career Information

Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) are highly experienced financial analysts in the business and investment sphere. The "chartered" part of their title refers to a globally recognized formal professional qualification.

The work environment

The work of the CFA contains two basic roles: Advisory and technical analysis.

The advisory role deals with advice given to clients on the basis of analysis. The Chartered Financial Analyst is an expert business and investment analyst, and their advice is sought by investors, corporations, pension funds, charities and businesses at all levels regarding major commercial issues. Much of this work relates to capital investment markets and commercial ventures.

This advice may relate to a very broad range of financial issues:

  • Business acquisitions
  • Asset values
  • Property investments
  • Stock investments
  • Fund management and investment issues
  • Securities
  • Commodities

CFAs act for buyers and sellers, which naturally affects the nature of their advice and the considerations related to the client's interests. Acting for a seller, the CFA is concerned with fixing a good sale value for the asset. The value of the sale may include tax, and the effect of the sale on the client's asset base and cash flow. Acting for a buyer, the role requires consideration of the client's future interests as owner of the purchase. The CFA needs to analyze the nature of the purchase, assess risks, and conduct studies of the income potential of the asset.

This can be extremely complex, technical work. The CFA's client base is a very demanding clientele, and expectations are particularly high at CFA level. The client base of high level CFAs include major investors, large fund managers, and big corporations. The information and advice provided to these professional investors is often highly sensitive, involving very large amounts of capital.

Analysis may involve intensive scrutiny of information regarding a proposed purchase. The CFA has to act as both an expert analyst and a detective, looking for inconsistencies or information which may negatively affect the purchase. Good quality information is a primary requirement in high finance investment, and the CFA may have to conduct a lot of research to be able to give authoritative advice.

Wages: Salary median rate is approximately $100,000. Highly variable, dependent on experience, qualifications, and nature of employment as salaried or commissioned consultant.

Hours: Nominally standard business hours. May include considerable work outside normal hours in the technical analysis phase.

The career environment

Many CFAs specialize in particular preferred areas of investment and commerce. This form of specialization creates a natural career track, and career progression is based on personal achievement, promotion, and job mobility. The financial analyst area of employment is  expected to grow by up to 37% in the coming decade, which is nearly 4 times the US national rate of employment growth. CFAs make up a significant part of the profession at its higher levels. They're usually managers of other financial analysts, so there is a clearly implied increase in demand for CFAs throughout the financial sector.

CFAs may also operate as independent consultants, based on valuable commission based contracts in the upper levels of the financial markets, providing expert advice and information to major investors.