CFAs are respected professionals with a proven career path and plenty of earning potential, so training to qualify as one is an attractive proposition.
As with any specialism, there are skills to foster and traits to build upon which will give you a better chance of thriving as a CFA.
Should this job appeal to you, it’s a good idea to get to grips with the following qualities, as these are the ones you’ll need to succeed in this field.
A mastery of analytical thinking
It should go without saying, that you cannot hope to make headway as a CFA if you aren’t capable of analytical thought.
Much of the job involves effectively analyzing and interpreting data, which involves a combination of choosing information from reputable, relevant sources, and selecting the most suitable methods for extracting insights from it.
As part of your preparations for achieving chartered status, you’ll get to grips with the nuts and bolts of what analytical thinking looks like in this context. But broader problem-solving skills will also be useful as you start your journey to qualifying as a CFA.
Proficiency in time management
Practicing good time management is important regardless of your job, and financial analysts face more time-sensitive challenges than most from day to day.
Time management skills need to be developed before you’ve qualified because passing the necessary exams requires a serious amount of study, completed over the course of several months to a year or more.
It’s worth noting that while on average you can expect to invest 300 study hours to become CFA qualified, some courses are optimized to reduce this to as little as 120 hours.
Some people are naturally equipped with an understanding of how to wrangle their time, set a sensible schedule, and stick to deadlines. Others are not as capable when it comes to punctuality, but if you recognize this shortcoming in your own personality, you have the opportunity to find workarounds.
Embracing structure from day to day, building contingencies when deadlines loom and taking advantage of modern time management tools, will all contribute to overcoming issues you have in this area.
An aptitude for decisiveness
Decision-making is another interesting, transferable skill that comes in handy for CFAs, as well as those who aspire to be qualified analysts in the near future.
Your decisions will of course need to be based on the data at your disposal, and so the quality and accuracy of this is key to choosing the right path.
Being decisive doesn’t mean making snap judgments without waiting to see all the pieces of the puzzle; it means taking advantage of all the tools and training in your locker to plot a course forward, even if time is pressure.
A keen ear for communication
Communicating is something all humans do, but those who are able to express themselves well and also actively listen to others always make more of an impact in the workplace.
When preparing for the CFA exams, you’ll have to become a well-rounded communicator, focusing not only on the written word but also on verbal interactions.
Over the course of a career, a CFA can expect to find themselves in the spotlight, whether in interactions with colleagues and clients, in interviews with the media, or at industry events. Communicating clearly, concisely and with confidence is a skill to nurture and treasure.
A passion for technology
We’ve already touched on the importance of data analytics in the role of a CFA, and you cannot hope to scrutinize or extract value from the deluge of stats if you aren’t up to speed with the technologies used in this field right now.
First up there’s the need for familiarity with the languages which underpin databases themselves, of which SQL is one of the most prevalent.
Then there’s the requirement to interact with all sorts of other software platforms and packages, from in-house solutions to mainstream services.
In the run-up to the tests you’ll take to qualify as a CFA, even the process of utilizing the resources and materials provided by a good prep course will require proficiency in computers.
An eye for minutiae
In the world of financial analysis, small details can make a big difference, and CFAs that are able to spot an emerging trend from amongst a cavalcade of information will be on the fast track to success in this sphere.
Obviously, a lot of your predictions will be influenced and shaped by the aforementioned software solutions which are commonplace across this profession today. But attention to detail is still a quality that can catapult fledgling CFAs into prominent positions.
A degree of dedication
Working as a CFA is not a walk in the park, and you’ll need to dedicate yourself to studying to even be in with a shot of achieving chartered status in the first place.
To a certain extent, your ability to dedicate yourself to something will be innate, but it’s also possible to learn to sharpen your focus and realize your ambitions.
As you’ll have gathered, the qualities that make up a good CFA are shared by many other professions and are valued in lots of industries.
You will need to be content to put in the work and hope that your natural talents and learned skills are up to the task of overcoming exams and impressing prospective employers.