If you have ever considered sitting for the exams necessary to obtain the CFA Institute's Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, then you are probably well aware of the benefits that go along with it. In addition to being one of the most respected certifications in the investment management industry, the CFA designation is already a de-facto requisite for many portfolio management and other senior investment management positions. In addition, the benefits of being a CFA Institute member, and the opportunity of obtaining the designation, far exceed the ability to claim association or to put those three letters on your resume. 

A Brief Overview
The CFA Institute, once known as the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR), created the designation to be a standard of knowledge, ethics and commitment for all serious investment professionals. In addition to raising the bar for investment managers, the institute provides members with a variety of career management tools and a community of like-minded professionals that rivals many of the well-known, fee-based career sites. 

One of the most accessible and valuable member benefits is the local analyst societies, located in over 55 countries across the globe. Most metropolitan areas have at least one authorized group that, depending on the area, may include several thousand members, with larger cities boasting multiple societies. Many of the local societies have their own career and networking resources, as well as job boards listing investment management positions available in their locale. For a small annual fee, members can join one of the local societies and attend periodic (often weekly) luncheons and meetings.

In addition to establishing a regular networking event, most meetings provide continuing education by providing speakers that present on relevant investment-related topics. Periodically, the institute, in connection with one or more of the local societies, sponsors career events in different cities around the globe. These events are focused on helping members stay abreast of trends and opportunities in the investment management field and usually discuss the dynamics of job recruiting and other human resource issues facing the industry. 

The Website
The CFA Institute also provides members special access to portions of its website designed to help candidates and charter holders find investment management jobs and execute career plans. In fact, a major portion of the website dedicated to member services, aptly named "My CFA," focuses on providing career management tools. "Member-only" sections of the site such as "Collaborate and Network" and "Manage your Career," allows members to access a variety of valuable tools like the JobLine and the Career Center, which provides all the resources one would need to execute, manage and track an executive job search

Jobline, one of the more popular career resources, is a fully functioning search tool that permits users to search for investment jobs that explicitly require the CFA designation or significant effort toward obtaining it. Like similarly designed career sites, members can hone their searches by geographical area, industry and other applicable characteristics. Unlike other sites, almost all job applications can be made and tracked through the tool, providing the hiring company with an applicant profile which, depending on a member's preferences, can include significantly more information than just a resume and cover letter. Since employers seeking CFA charterholders and candidates can also get access to the database and search member profiles and resumes for potential applicants, it is not uncommon for companies to contact members directly about positions.

Career Center
The CFA's Career Center provides members with a bevy of customizable tools and resources that can help them create, research and execute a job search and overall career plan. The online center is divided into the following sections:

  • Organizer
  • Job Talk
  • Resume Tools
  • Career Research
  • Professional Assessments
  • Signature Series Assessments
  • Resources
  • Coaches and Consultants

Breaking Down the Sections
Each section in the Career Center has a specific function in the career management process. The Organizer is a one-stop repository for such things as a networking journal, contact manager and a written plan where goals can bet set and performance tracked. Job Talk provides members with a variety of communication resources that vary from the ability to access a knowledge-base of career related questions, a career counselor and a networking forum of investment professionals.

Resume Tools, as the name suggests, is a fully functioning resume design tool, which includes drafting and editing tips for completing a professional resume for each job opportunity by simply entering background and skill information. Other tools provide the means to manage multiple resumes and track their submissions and employer responses.

The Career Research section provides information on how to best use internet resources to manage a job search, including information on global job boards and the ability to conduct research on companies, industries and recruiters. 

Assessment Tools
Something that differentiates the Career Center from other career services is its focus on helping members choose an ideal career based on their professional objectives, lifestyle and value preferences. In order to accomplish this and to help clarify their career goals, members are given access to a variety of different assessment tools in the sections labeled Professional Assessments and Signature Series Assessments.

Akin to other paid sites, Resources provides articles and webcasts on all you need to know about interviewing, networking and salary negotiations. It also includes templates for all types of correspondence and self promotion. For those that require individualized assistance, the CFA Institute has prequalified a number of career management professionals that can be researched and contacted through the section on Coaches and Consultants.

A crucial benefit of being a CFA institute member is the ability to network with a broad range of investment professionals through the institute's searchable directory. Contacts can be made by searching the member directory by employer, society affiliation or other personal information provided in the member profile. In addition to being an exceptional networking resource, contacting members provides an incomparable way to research companies and trends in industry recruiting.

The Bottom Line
With over 100,000 members across the globe, of which almost 90,000 are CFA charterholders, the CFA Institute provides an unmatched opportunity for investment professionals to find and research investment-related positions that are not promoted or posted on job boards. Since membership is not limited to CFA charterholders and exam candidates, anyone with a passion for investment management may find that the cost of membership is well worth access to career tools specifically designed to help you advance in the industry.