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The Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA, program is a professional certification awarded by the CFA Institute. CFA candidates must pass three exams on topics related to financial analysis, asset classes and portfolio management. Charter holders are considered experts on investment and financial topics.

CFAs are frequently employed by asset management firms, securities brokers, research firms, investment banks, business development and venture capital firms, portfolio managers, business law firms, advisory businesses and large companies with corporate finance divisions. Popular firms falling under these categories include Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Citigroup (NYSE: C), UBS, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), HSBC and the Vanguard Group.

CFA Job Opportunities

A number of different positions are commonly held by CFAs. Research analysts identify and interpret relevant quantitative data and qualitative information to improve financial decision-making. Asset management firms on the buy side and securities brokers on the sell side employ research analysts, as do investment banks and research firms. More experienced and accomplished CFAs may get the opportunity to manage asset pools.

Portfolio managers decide how to deploy their clients' capital and how to manage risk in those investments. Many financial analysts in financial planning and analysis, or FP&A, roles are CFAs. Large companies require corporate finance teams to conduct FP&A functions and ensure capital is being invested in a manner that maximizes returns. CFAs with law degrees have opportunities to work with corporate legal teams or firms specializing in business law. Some CFAs work as financial advisers who help individuals manage their savings and plan for retirement.

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