I’ll start by saying: I know how painful these exams are. People who have relinquished all things enjoyable just to study for these exams are all around me. I have witnessed the toll of failure, the elation of success, and the frustration of the 4-6 weeks between sitting the exam and discovering the results. It’s downright masochistic, but really, isn’t that the fun of it?
So, what is the Value of the CFA in Private Equity?
People in the industry argue that the CFA charter is a fund manager certification; it concentrates too much on portfolio theory and not enough on strategy, law, and deal-making. Maybe this is true if the CFA designation is your only weapon. But, like everything, you have a tool belt, and the experience amassed from the CFA programme is just one of the tools. Private equiteers must be well rounded; they must know public markets, financial modelling, corporate finance and statistics. They need to understand the world around them to understand the world within (wow, that was very Zen).
Look, it’s impossible to know what the opportunity cost of sitting the exams is. But, I think they’re worth it. They keep your technical knowledge current, they prove your discipline and commitment, they show tenacity, they give you more than enough to hold your own with colleagues, they introduce you to a diverse community, and as the CFA Institute website suggests:
The CFA charter it is the designation of excellence in the investment community.
So I think there is Value in taking the CFA for a job in Private Equity.