As of this year, nine of the top 10 employers of CFA charterholders are large investment banks. But that doesn’t mean they are the companies that are most enamored with hiring CFAs. Smaller financial firms with fewer employees will likely never grace that list simply due to their size. So we dug through our CV database to find out which companies and sectors truly value a CFA charter the most.
Nearly 32,000 people who have uploaded or updated their resume in our database over the past year have either passed one level of the CFA or are full charterholders. Unsurprisingly, the list is topped by two asset managers: PIMCO and Blackrock. As you can see in the first chart below, more than one-fourth of their employees in our database have the acronym CFA on their CV; around 5% say they are charterholders. Roughly 22% of people who work at asset management companies (second chart) have passed at least one level of the exam.
What came as more of a surprise was the fact that four private equity firms made the top 10: KKR, Carlyle Group, Blackstone and Apollo Global Management. Around 6% of people who work at PE firms mention a CFA qualification on their resume, up from 4% when we did this exercise two years ago.
The trend of private equity (PE) firms hiring CFAs or asking them to get their charter is a relatively new one. While 6% isn’t a huge number, the increase suggests how desperate PE candidates are to differentiate themselves from the pack considering the difficulty of landing a job in the industry. Adding a CFA charter to a resume seems to be working. Comparatively speaking, a higher percentage of people who work in private equity have passed all three exams and earned their charter. The big four PE companies are right up there with asset managers and well ahead of investment banks.
As far as banks go, Goldman Sachs employs the highest percentage of CFA-qualified staffers and full-fledged charterholders. Goldman made the overall top 10 list from the CFA Institute despite a much smaller footprint than the other investment banks. As with private equity firms, a CFA appears to be a resume sweetener for people who want to work at Goldman Sachs.
Meanwhile, almost one-third (31%) who have passed at least the first exam have between zero and three years of professional experience (third chart). This speaks more to the growing popularity of the qualification. The record for the number of Level I test takers is broken almost every session. The average age across all three levels currently sits at around 27, according to the CFA Institute.
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