Kaplan student, Alexis Taylor, shares why he decided to study the CFA Program and how it’s helping him progress his career.
Why did you decide to study CFA?
With many years of financial services experience, I found myself at a career crossroads, facing some key decisions which I had to get right. After considerable research, I realised that in order to compete with other candidates for various job opportunities I needed the CFA qualification.
Within the area I work, investment management, the CFA qualification is often referred to as the “gold standard”. I believe it’s more a case of it being the minimum standard given the calibre of the competition for jobs in the current market.
Before commencing the CFA Program, I decided to dip my toe in the water and complete the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) with Kaplan, which is a good entry point. The material contained within the qualification gave me a good footing for CFA Level 1.
I spoke to many people, and all roads lead to CFA.
How has your career changed since starting CFA?
Initially, I was working in investment banking. For various reasons, I realised that I was unable to progress my career in the direction I wanted. To move into investment management, given how competitive the current marketplace is, I knew my CV needed more gravitas.
I am currently a self-employed investment strategist and investment manager. My objective is to become an investment / portfolio manager within a larger firm.
The CFA has allowed my career to progress in a different direction. Deciding to embark upon the program was an inflection point in my career as it made a significant impact with job applications, as many job specifications state that you must be currently studying toward or have completed the CFA Program.
Additionally, the material within the syllabus is supremely relevant for my day-to-day role as an investment manager and not purely theoretical. Overall, it has been invaluable in furthering my knowledge.
Why did you choose to study with Kaplan?
I have now completed CFA Level 1 and 2 with Kaplan. I was unsuccessful upon my first attempt with level 1 when studying with another provider, but I can testify that the persistence required is certainly a rewarding investment of your time.
I don't think I could have made the same progress in my CFA journey without Kaplan because the quality of the tuition and overall support were significant factors in my success.
I researched many of the prep providers, and in my assessment, Kaplan was the superior choice. Kaplan offered far better quality mock exams in comparison to other providers. One of the most important factors in my assessment, and what set Kaplan apart from the competition, was the detail and clarity provided by the tutors when explaining the answers to each question.
In my opinion, a well-argued, detailed, and insightful debrief is the most important part of question practice. It embellishes the understanding of the underlying concept upon which you may be tested in the actual exam.
Additionally, the Kaplan online portal videos are of great benefit given how articulate each tutor was and the examples of how the theory is applicable to the real world. Overall, the breadth and depth of the online material has made a significant difference to my approach to the CFA which has helped me succeed.
Do you have any advice for those looking to study CFA to progress their career?
Obtaining the CFA charter can be something of a journey and whilst there are tangible benefits to becoming a charterholder. A potential employer is likely to be impressed by the very fact that the candidate has simply taken the initiative to embark upon the program. It is an indication of a jobseeker’s drive and ambition, and highlights commitment to the investment profession.
Whilst the CFA qualification is seemingly aimed at those working within asset or wealth management it could help take your career to a different branch of financial services given the breadth of the material. For example, financial reporting and analysis, and asset valuation are often integral components of many other different roles.
If you want to work abroad, then it can open doors because it's an internationally recognised and prestigious qualification.
Do you have any study tips for future CFA students?
My advice is to persevere with the CFA Program as persistence pays. I would strongly recommend a prep provider such as Kaplan. It is also important to realise that given the quantity and depth of the material, it’s certainly not a qualification where one can start cramming the night before.
Having taken the decision to complete the CFA qualification, it is crucial to ensure your study should be planned thoroughly, organised, and monitored regularly. It is imperative to learn, absorb and practice the material at a sensible pace.
In my experience, it is optimal to allocate at least two months for mock exam and question practice. There is a direct link between the number of mock exams attempted and success
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