The CFA track: a valuable addition to the Master Finance?

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It is a well-considered choice for many (future) students of the Master Finance: the CFA track, a specific study program that is a stepping stone towards the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level 1 exam. In this article, two students provide their insights and share personal experiences. Furthermore, Peter de Goeij, Academic Director of the Master Finance, gives an insight into the university’s rationale behind this program.

Chartered Financial Analyst is a globally acknowledged certificate, provided by the CFA Institute. The CFA Institute is a worldwide renowned institute that provides investment professionals with finance education. It aims to promote standards in ethics, education, and professional excellence in the global investment industry. It offers several international designations, amongst the famous Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Tilburg University is linked with the CFA Institute enabling access to students – worldwide – to study at our institution. Having a CFA certificate displays your knowledge in analyzing, understanding, and applying investment instruments. 

Boris de Bie (24) chose this particular track as it provided more in-depth information regarding financial management and investment analysis: “During my Bachelor’s degree I regarded investments and financial instruments as the most interesting topics. When I found out that there was a specific track in the Master Finance that particularly focuses on these topics, it was an easy choice.” To ensure that you obtain an appropriate preparation for the CFA-exam, the track contains certain restrictions relative to the regular MSc Finance track: “If you decide to choose the CFA-track, there are several courses that you will certainly follow, such as Investment Analysis, Empirical Methods in Finance, Advanced Corporate Finance, and Financial Statement Analysis & Valuation. Besides these courses, there are three electives, for a total of 18 ECTS that you can pick. The number of possible electives is smaller compared to the regular track. However, if your main interest lies in the field of investing and financial instruments, these are the courses that you would have chosen anyhow.” 

Sjors Seinen (22) had a similar decision-making process regarding the choice for the Master Finance – CFA Track: “I was already familiar with the CFA charter given that Tilburg University offers a Finance Master that primarily focuses on the topics deemed important by the CFA Institute. Knowing that my interest lies, to a large extent, with investing and asset management, the Master Finance – CFA track seemed to be cut out for me. Hence, I opted for the CFA track program to prepare myself well for a future career in investment management.

“The top employers of CFA charter holders globally include JP Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs.”

After finishing his Master Finance, Sjors directly started with the preparations for the CFA-exam: “After successfully defending my Master thesis this September, my time as a student at Tilburg University had come to an end. Nevertheless, being only 22 years, I decided not to immediately enter the labor market. Instead, I found that I could supplement the acquired knowledge I gained during the Masters by enrolling for the CFA Level I exam.” Whilst studying for the CFA-exam, Sjors discovered that there was more to it besides the gained knowledge during the Master Finance: “Even though the Master Finance – CFA track covered all finance-related topics embedded in the CFA curriculum, the focus of the CFA exam level I goes far beyond portfolio management, equity investment and fixed income alone: approximately half of the study material is dedicated to fields such as ethics, economics, quantitative methods, and financial analysis and reporting. Therewith, the CFA Institute ensures that its members and candidates have an all-out understanding of any disciplines that could be associated with the investment management profession.” Even though the CFA exam contains additional study material that goes beyond the Master Finance program, Sjors did experience the CFA track to be substantially helpful: “Mandatory Master courses like Fixed Income Analysis, Derivatives Securities and Risk Management, Financial Analysis and Investor Behaviour provided an accurate reflection of the Finance-related topics in the CFA curriculum, which saved me tons of study time that I could now redirect to other prominent topics (e.g. ethics).”

Approximately two weeks ago, Sjors finally took the CFA level I exam: “After three months of preparations, I took the CFA level I exam on December 5, 2020 in Amsterdam. Although the results will not be published for the next two months, I am very certain to have passed the exam, mainly thanks to the Master Finance – CFA track!”

According to Peter de Goeij, Academic Director of the Master Finance, the CFA track offers multiple benefits to students interested in this knowledge area: “The CFA track covers about 75-80 percent of the material for the CFA level I exam. In that way, there are huge time-savings possible when studying for this exam. In addition, for a few students scholarships are available that help cover some of the fees for the level I exam.” After passing the exam, a CFA-student has various options to enter the labor market, according to Peter de Goeij: “The top employers of CFA charter holders globally include JP Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs. In general, the main profession is found in wealth management institutions, financial advisor companies, and (investment) banking companies.”

All in all, the CFA track incorporates many courses and topics that are well-suited for students with a particular interest in asset management and investment analysis. It offers a curriculum that covers around 75 percent of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) and is, therefore, a good preparation for the CFA level I exam. Interested in this particular master track? Check your eligibility and the deadlines for the applications here. For international students: check your eligibility here.