Getting a new or additional credential after starting after your career is a big decision and usually influenced by two things. The first factor for receiving an additional credential is for better career prospects. Sometimes after the first couple of years in a career, a professional decides to get a new credential to open up more career options. The second reason for getting a new credential is for increased income.
Many professionals say that after a certain point in time, the position and job matters more than the salary they are making. While this may be true, there are still times where salary is a major part of career decisions for every professional.
The most sought after credential in the finance field is CFA (chartered financial analyst). This credential is offered by many institutions whether on campus or online including Udemy and Coursera. A CFA credential on your resume enhances your finance career with increased job prospects, makes you more visible in the job market, and increases your salary options.
What Determines a Chartered Financial Analyst Salary?
A Chartered Financial Analyst is generally an advisor suggesting investment strategies to clients. Those who hold a CFA credential and work for a renowned firm or organization tend to earn more than the rest. The reason for this is simply that they are more qualified and have the capability of handling difficult responsibilities in the workplace and the correct credentials to support those responsibilities.
The salary of a CFA is based on several factors. Some of those factors are experience, educational qualifications, position in the organization, type of employer, and location of the job. A CFA holder working for a multinational company will earn more than a CFA holder working for a smaller firm. A CFA holder’s salary also depends on performance-based bonuses and receiving some type of equity or profit-sharing.
CFA Salary in the USA
The CFA certification is a globally acknowledged credential in finance. A CFA holder in the US has the possibility of earning more than $100,000 annually. This does not include any bonuses or profit-sharing that the CFA holder may receive. According to industry experts, a new CFA holder earns an average of $47,000 – $52,000 annually. If a CFA holder has two or three years of work experience in the same field he or she can earn more than $60,000 annually.
A CFA holder with more than seven years of work experience can earn up to six figures in the US. CFA holders working as the Chief Finance Officers (CFO) for a firm earn the maximum salary in the US.
Take into account that these numbers will change based on where you live in the US. A CFA holder will earn more living in Dallas, Texas than they will if they live in Phoenix, Arizona or Miami, Florida.
These numbers also do not always provide the full picture either because there is a wide range for a CFA holder’s salary depending on the specific job title they hold. For example, the median total compensation for a Financial Analyst (corporate) is $80,930, a Portfolio Manager (fixed income) is $253,250, Chief Investment Officer is $316,600, and a Portfolio Manager (equities) is $344,500. This information was received from the 2016 CFA® salary compensation survey. Note, that these are gross salaries and you’ll need to use a salary after tax calculator to work out the net CFA salary.
Best CFA Study Materials and Courses of 2020
Choosing the best CFA study course or materials may not be as easy as it seems. There are many places claiming to be the best, but which one is the best for you and your learning type? To figure out which program to go with you need to research them and then go from there.
Each program will have its pros and cons. Some programs will work well for some while another program will work well for others. This is why examining each program closely will help you figure out which program you should use as a CFA study course.
Read each sales pitch and hyperbole in each course. Your ultimate goal is to figure out if the program fits your learning style, study schedule, and budget. Most CFA study guides recommend at least 300 hours for studying to be able to pass all three exam levels. This is assuming that you use your study time appropriately and your review program is the right one for you.
If the study guide that you are using is monotonous and does not keep you focused then you are going to waste hours of time trying to study and you may not be ready for the exam. However, if you can find a program that keeps you engaged and works for you then you have a better chance of being ready for the exam. Below are listed the top 7 best CFA review courses and study materials.
Wiley CFA® Course
Wiley has been producing review courses for many, many years. Due to this fact, they are one of the biggest companies in the test prep industry and by far the most respected. This is all for one reason: they make top quality products. Wiley classes are broken down into short lessons that can be easily finished in 10-20 minutes. You will be able to finish several lessons in the same amount of time that it would take you to go through one lesson on other study programs.
This course has over 110 hours of video lectures, a 4,000 multiple choice question bank, and 3 full practice tests. In addition, they offer review materials for all three levels of the exam. You will have access to all of your study materials until you pass the tests. This means there will be no extra fees once you have paid the first fee.
Wiley also offers a final review cram course. You can use this cram course to go over all of the important stuff once more the week before your exam day. You can also use the study guide on a free trial to make sure this is the program that is best for you.
AdaptPrep CFA® Course
AdaptPrep CFA® is similar to Wiley in that they created smaller lessons. Each lesson is short, so you do not have to sit through long lectures. It also has more than 40 hours of video lectures and 3,000 multiple-choice questions. AdaptPrep also offers a system called mastery feedback. This system analyzes how you do on quizzes and other things so you can see what topic you need to work on more.
This program is affordable and great for self-studiers and has course options for all three levels. AdaptPrep has enough materials to ensure you are prepared for your exam. However, it is not as comprehensive as Wiley due to the difference in video hours. It is a good deal for the price.
The Princeton Review CFA® Study Materials
This company has also been producing high-quality test prep study materials for many years. Princeton has made study materials for a wide range of trades and professional disciplines. However, this is their first time producing a CFA® test prep. You would not know this at first because they have done such a good job.
The Princeton Review course is designed to help their students get the most out of their limited study time. If you can only study for 100 hours or so to prepare for the first level of the CFA exam this program is your best choice. If you enroll in the Princenton course and fail your exam you do not have to worry. Princeton offers a full refund to students who take their course and do not pass the exam.
The only problem with this course is that it only has study materials for the first level of the CFA exam. But this does not mean that they will not be coming out with materials for the other two levels in the future.
Apptuto CFA® Course
Apptuto is a fairly new company, but you would not necessarily know that. Their CFA courses are pretty comprehensive and sophisticated for a new company. This program is a great deal for what you get. Apptuto has more than 3,000 multiple-choice practice questions. You can take their preset quizzes or you can customize your own by selecting certain topics. This quiz customization along with their advanced analytics makes this program a powerful one.
They also have live-online training for level 1 and level 2 of the CFA exam. Apptuto is still working on material for the level 3. The premium course has 18 weeks of live classes online totaling about 54 hours of classroom teaching. They also have the option of 100 hours of live instructor lead training.
Analyst prep CFA® Study Materials
AnalystPrep offers a full set of review materials for a very affordable price. The base course is under $150. However, the base course would not be good to use as your only way to study for the CFA exam. This program offers a coaching package. This includes 3,000 practice questions, 4 full mock exams, over 40 hours of video lectures, and 5 hours of 1-on-1 coaching.
Yes, 1-on-1 coaching. You will have access to a personal coach who can help answer questions about the course, the materials, or even help you with study habits. Your coach might even be able to help get you into a study routine. Honestly, it is hard to get back into the habit of studying when you have been out of it for a while.
Bloomberg CFA® Review Course
Bloomberg CFA® Review Course offers training and instruction from some of the best people in the industry. If you go with this program you can be sure that you are getting quality instruction.
The program has an adaptive learning software that learns what you know and what you do not as you go through the course. As you answer questions the software keeps track of your answers. It will retest you on topics you have a hard time with. This software helps you study what you need to work on and avoid studying the same stuff over and over.
They also have some great analytics and a dashboard that shows all the features and functions of the course. This program also has the largest test bank with more than 8,000 practice questions and 8 full-length mock exams. The biggest downside of this course is that there are no video lectures. If you are someone who learns by watching lectures then this course might not be right for you.
Udemy is a global program that offers different types of courses for the CFA level 1 exam.
Their bestselling course has 61 hours of on-demand video, 2 articles, 82 downloadable resources, full lifetime access, access on mobile and TV, assignments, and a certificate of completion. They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee should you find that this program does not work for you.
How to Increase Your CFA Salary
If you already have your CFA certification and want to increase your salary even more then you need to make yourself more valuable to your company. This would include asking for more responsibility, taking on a cross-functional role, mentoring a junior team member, and upgrading your technical financial skills. Basically you want to make yourself an indispensable member of the team.
In addition to this, it is good to know the current wage market for your job and skill level. If you do your research and notice you are being underpaid, or if a certain skill you have raises your wage potential, do not be afraid to try and negotiate a raise during the next performance evaluation. The key to increasing your salary this way is to prove that you are worth the salary through the work you do and good research into what compensation your knowledge and skillset should receive.
Getting a new or additional certification after being in the workforce for a while is a big decision. It is something that will be motivated by several factors, one of them is trying to increase salary. If you are looking for a program to help you prepare for the CFA exam, there are many out there. However, it is important to research which program is the best for you.