This weekend, 84,491 candidates from more than 145 countries will take one of the three levels of the chartered financial analyst exam. The exam, run by the CFA Institute, Charlottesville, Va., usually requires months of study. It takes an average of four years to pass all three levels, and only one in five CFA candidates makes it all the way through.
So why bother? Jonathan Greenberg, chief executive officer of OCE Interactive LLC, New York, said the CFA training will give him a broad base of knowledge on how securities are valued. An investment banker for 13 years, Mr. Greenberg launched his firm three years ago to create a more systematic approach to valuing equities.
"Equities had been very much story-oriented; they still are. Fixed-income markets really were a couple of decades ahead in terms of scientific theory and the operations of the markets," he said.
Abhay Shah, senior applications consultant at Standard & Poor's Corp., New York, said he hopes the CFA designation will ultimately lead to a portfolio management job.
This is Mr. Shah's sixth year of pursuing the elusive CFA designation. He has passed up promotions and opportunities to relocate because of the rigors involved in studying for the test, and on June 3, he'll spend six hours taking Level III. "You can run a marathon in that," he said.
Eduardo Borges, a principal at State Street Global Advisors, Boston, who works on a macro hedge strategy slated to be unveiled in June, is making his second attempt at Level III. If he passes, he'll take family and friends to his favorite steakhouse. And then he'll start studying for the Global Risk Management's financial risk management accreditation.