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What Does a CFA® Charterholder Do?

Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charterholders apply their knowledge and skills in a wide range of positions throughout the global finance industry. Distinguished by their commitment to set a higher standard of excellence, they are sought after as investment management professionals.

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Why Choose a Career in the Investment Industry?

Firms and professionals in the investment industry are stewards of capital – they help clients make investment decisions, invest their money, and provide services to enhance financial markets. The scope of these services can include trading, asset management – constructing and managing investment portfolios and funds – and regulation of these systems. Enrolling in the CFA Program and earning the CFA charter prepares and positions you for a variety of career paths in the investment industry.

Career Paths and Jobs for CFA® Charterholders

Widely considered the apex for professional development in investment management, the CFA designation is valued by employers for roles and functions in every sector of the global finance industry, including portfolio management, analysis, private wealth, and consulting. But the CFA charter also equips professionals with the versatility to take their career paths in different directions.

Explore the finance industry, careers, and job descriptions

Thinking about Your Next Career Step?

Take our assessment to learn whether becoming a CFA charterholder is right for you.

Take the Readiness Assessment

CFA® Charterholder Salary

CFA charterholders can be found in a variety of roles across the investment industry. Therefore, compensation can vary based on job function and region. Moreover, a significant amount of compensation in the investment industry takes the form of bonuses, so total compensation includes base salary, any bonuses, and long-term incentives.

What Is the Typical Compensation Level for CFA® Charterholders?

Compensation varies widely in the investment industry and is influenced by many factors, including the specific industry sector, an individual professional’s seniority and area of specialization, and broad regional differences. For portfolio managers, one of the most common roles for CFA charterholders, a 2019 CFA Institute compensation study found a typical self-reported total compensation of US$177,000 (US$126,000 base salary). According to the Future of Finance report Investment Firm of the Future, new business models will have a significant impact on career paths and compensation trends for investment professionals.

* Median values as self-reported by CFA Institute members and charterholders for 2018, according to CFA Institute's 2019 compensation study.

Students Interested in Finance: You Have a Lot of Exciting Options Ahead

CFA Institute Career Path Guide for Students
According to the 2023 Global Graduate Outlook Survey, finance is the top-ranked profession in terms of career prospects. If you’re a student and want to know how CFA Institute can support your journey into the finance field, be sure to check out this guide.

View the Guide (PDF)

Is Pursuing a CFA® Charter Worth It?

  • C-Suite Members Icon Value to Employers

    CFA charterholders are employed by JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Royal Bank of Canada, BofA Securities, UBS Group, HSBC Holdings, Wells Fargo and Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BlackRock, and TD Bank Financial Group. Some employers even require it.

  • positive line graph icon Compensation Levels

    The average base salaries of CFA Institute members and charterholders in 2019 increased at a greater rate (year over year) than the rate of increase for the general market, according to the findings of the CFA Institute Compensation Study.

  • refresh icon Content that Evolves with the Industry

    Fintech and other trends in the future of finance will have a significant impact on investment firms, career paths, and compensation trends. CFA Institute is poised to lead with our respected thought leadership, dedicated practice analysis, and close ties to the industry.

Benchmarking the CFA Charter

An independent evaluation found the following levels of comparability for the CFA Charter:

Country Comparable To
USA US Masters’ degree standard
UK RQF Level 7*1
Canada OQF Level 12*
India NSQF Level 9*
Hong Kong HKQF Level 6*
Singapore Singaporean Master’s degree standard
Australia AQF Level 9*
Brazil Título de Mestre (Brazilian Master’s degree standard)
China Chinese Master’s degree standard
Japan Japanese Master’s degree standard
South Africa S. A. NQF Level 9*
France NQF Level 7*

* Comparable to Master’s degree standard
1 In the context of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), RQF Level 7 (CFA Charter comparable level) has been referenced to EQF Level 7. RQF Levels 5 and 4 (comparable levels for CFA Level I and Certificate in ESG Investing, respectively) are both aligned at EQF Level 5.

The independent evaluation also found the following levels of comparability for the CFA Level I:

  • Comparable to RQF Level 5 in the UK education system
  • In the absence of a national qualification framework or directly comparable qualification in the USA education system, CFA Level I can be considered broadly comparable to completion of Year 3 of a 4-year US Bachelor degree.

Learn more and read the full independent evaluation (PDF)

Compare CFA Program to other leading programs for investment managers like MBA, CPA, and CFP

Become a Member of CFA Institute

You don’t have to be a CFA charterholder—or even a candidate in the CFA Program—to become a member of CFA Institute. We offer two types of membership—regular and affiliate—to reflect the range of experiences investment professionals have. Membership to CFA Institute and a local society gives you access to career resources, networking opportunities, continuing education, and other benefits that support you beyond the curriculum and exams.

Explore Membership

Register for the CFA® Program

Are you ready to earn a charter and join the ranks of elite investment professionals?

Don't delay; complete your registration to access study materials and candidate resources to begin the CFA Program today.

Enroll and Register
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