CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) is a certificate that does everything that is important in the world of finance. Celine, a NEOMA final year student, has received a CFA Level I and is currently preparing for level 2. She reveals her tips and gives us an overview of her preparation for this certification.
Can you go back on your journey?
I passed the preparatory class and joined NEOMA in 2018. I had the opportunity to open two NEOMA campuses. I spent the first year in Rouen, then went to Reims on the M1 on a CFA course. I also chose NEOMA for this course. Despite COVID, I managed to pass the first level. Today I am finishing my second year of master’s degree in preparation for the second level.
All about CFA
For those who don’t know what a CFA is?
The CFA is an international finance certification that takes three levels with an average of three years to complete. It is available for all ages and is more focused on asset management. However, starting from level CFA I, we deal with all subjects related to finance.
Why did you decide to prepare for CFA Level I?
I immediately chose NEOMA for the CFA course because I wanted to work in finance. As soon as I left training, I realized that there were few positions in finance and that you needed to improve your resume. A PGE degree is not necessarily enough to integrate this universe. That’s why I chose NEOMA, because I thought that NEOMA had a certain quality of CFA teaching.
Level I is very difficult. Today the success rate is only 25%. But the CFA still really appreciated my resume at the interview. I rarely had an interview where no one came to challenge me at the CFA.
Why continue with level II?
This is first and foremost a challenge. Like training, we tell ourselves we have a long way to go. Today, just passing level I will not force you to become a CFA. You must have all three levels. I also want to take advantage of being a student to get a Level II. Really, even CFA Institute According to him, it is quite difficult to pass the CFA level when you are already working.
Read also: CFA Finance: a growing number of failures in 2020
Tips for preparing for the CFA
How are you preparing for the CFA?
It depends on the personality of each person. Generally speaking, as a student or a person who has no experience in finance either asset management, and those who do not necessarily know the financial products, it takes an average of 300 to 500 hours of work (including personal time and hours of support from NEOMA).
For my part, I liked to take on everything that is called reading, ie CFA courses, in advance. To get an idea of the subject, you need to first actively read the courses. The CFA covers topics that the student has rarely seen before. However, I did not take notes. I highlighted the key points I saw in my books. After two or even three quick readings of the course, I moved directly to the questions. You have to be careful, because the CFA is an exam where questions are formulated in a special way. To succeed at level I, you need to get used to this format of questions.
What are the special questions?
Because they are modeled in the form of multiple-choice questions. The questions are technical and relevant to the course or more detailed in a computational sense. The problem with CFA is that all three answers are possible. This is where it becomes difficult for students. You are never sure of your answers during the exam. Just make a mistake with the comma to falsify the whole result.
How has NEOMA helped you prepare for the CFA?
NEOMA has the great advantage that most professors already have a CFA, as well as a Ph.D. They went through this training, they mastered it. They worked in asset management, they know their subject very well. Their added value will be to review the key points of the course, to explain them to those who understand less. They also know in advance what points, in general, are the issues in the CFA. Above all, they help us better prepare for these issues.
Your advice on passing the first level?
Be careful in your editions, do not miss a single detail. CFA questions will focus on details rather than general outlines. Get used to the CFA question format, which is unique.
Read also: NEOMA now provides an opportunity to prepare for CFA Level III.
The impact of the CFA on Celine’s professional career
How has the CFA affected your professional career?
In the period after COVID-19 – and even during the COVID period, during which I had a year off – there was a huge demand in the trainee market, despite a supply that remained similar, if not less, to the cause of the pandemic. The CFA has improved my resume.
Preparing for the CFA when you’re only 21 is of interest to recruiters. I have not yet passed level I, but I have indicated that I am a candidate for level I CFA. Informing recruiters that you are a candidate shows the student’s motivation and interest in finance. As a recruiter, you never know if a student really wants to turn to finance.
During all my interviews, the recruiters asked me questions about the CFA. The CFA is starting to gain momentum today. Therefore, companies will challenge students when they declare themselves candidates for the CFA.
How do you imagine the future?
I am already aiming to pass three levels of CFA. It is known that the CFA is a certification aimed at this asset managementbut it opens many doors when you are a student. This way I was able to join positions that are 100% focused on corporate finance. I did credit analysis at the Société Générale and c coating in BNP.
During my internship after graduation, I was able to join an American investment bank. This is incredible, knowing that NEOMA is not at all in this purposes American banks. My CFA greatly appreciated my candidacy when I applied summer and their internships.
So I joined corporate finance without knowing it. I really liked it, it allowed me to use my CFA certification every day. So I imagine why not, staying in the world of investment banking later.
Read also: CFA® 2019: some new features and mixed results