What is a Chartered Financial Analyst?
The Chartered Financial Analyst designation, or CFA, is one of the most highly regarded global certifications in the financial services industry. Candidates are tested on their understanding of portfolio management, investment analysis, economics, derivatives, accounting, corporate finance, statistics, and ethics, in order to verify their proficiency and integrity before earning this designation.
The path to attaining the CFA designation is rigorous and includes having to write three notoriously intensive exams, each being 6 hours long. Before qualifying for enrollment in the CFA program, candidates must hold either a bachelor’s degree or have 4000 hours of professional work experience. To be able to use the CFA designation, one must pass the three levels of the CFA program and obtain at least 4000 hours of relevant experience in the financial industry. CFA Charterholders are expected to uphold the Code of Ethics and share in the Institute’s Visions and Values for the duration of their career.
We decided to ask all our team who have the Chartered Financial Analyst designation why they chose to pursue the designation. Read on to find out more about each of their paths to obtaining the CFA designation, the hard work and dedication involved with achieving this goal, and how working with a CFA Charterholder can provide you with confidence and extra financial peace of mind.
Todd Blaseckie, CFA
CEO & Portfolio Manager
CFA Charter granted in 2014
I have always been interested in investments and the investment industry. I started my investing journey at the ripe old age of 16 and have not looked back since.
When I decided that I would make ‘investing’ a career, I did not know even where to start. My parents had always highlighted the importance of education, so I knew education was going to be critical in giving myself a good chance to be successful in this career. I also knew that with all the educational tools (and later experience) my clients and their investments would be better off.
Getting a degree was the first step, then being able to help clients with retirement planning and other financial decisions would be next (Certified Financial Planner – CFP®) and finally after a few years in the industry, I came to realize that if I wanted to distinguish myself from the crowd and really build on my knowledge and experience the CFA charter was the way to go.
My decision to enroll in the CFA program was not taken lightly. It’s not easy and it’s not quick. I had to be sure that my wife was on board with the plan as we had a young child, and I was not going to be very available for 3-6 months per year for 3 years (The CFA has 3 levels and tests). As a family, we committed to the program, and I am glad that we did. The knowledge and skills that I gained in getting the CFA charter have proved invaluable. Not only does it separate me (and Alitis) from other investment managers (brokers, fund advisers, investment planners etc.) but it allows me to provide the additional knowledge and insight, when combined with my experience, to better the process, the investment, the client experience, and Alitis Investment Counsel in general.
As I think about what Alitis brings to our clients, I find that I sometimes minimize the experience and education that this firm brings to bear. Alitis Investment Counsel employees are highly motivated, very education-oriented and client-focused people. We do good work for our clients, and I think we should all be proud.
Thomas Nowak, CFA
CFA Charter granted in 2021
The CFA Charter provides the tools to be good at what we do: managing money. Investing is a daunting task. There are seemingly endless options of what to invest in, there are salespeople & news/media constantly bombarding you with “the next great thing/Tesla/Apple/Bitcoin”, and the stakes are high: we take it very seriously that Alitis is entrusted to manage your hard-earned money. Having completed the rigorous studies of the CFA Program, as well as the required work experience, I have the confidence to make decisions in the best interest of our clients.
Mitchell Prothman, CFA
Senior Portfolio Manager & Head of Real Assets
CFA Charter granted in 2011
I decided to enroll in the CFA program in 2008 in order to better serve my clients and differentiate myself from other local financial professionals. After over 900+ hours of study and 4,000 hours of qualified work experience, I became a CFA Charterholder in 2011. Successful completion of the program required a comprehensive understanding of 10 broad topic areas including Portfolio Management, Ethical and Professional Standards, Economics and Alternative Investments. Additionally, maintaining the integrity of the capital markets is paramount.
In order to maintain in good standing with the CFA Institute, every year I must attest that I have and will continue to adhere to the CFA’s Code of Ethics and Standard of Professional Conduct (“Code and Standards”).
Although my role within Alitis has changed over the past 13 years, the designation continues to provide meaningful benefits. Not only do I utilize the knowledge gained from the program in managing the Alitis Private REIT, Alitis Private Real Estate LP and Alitis Private Mortgage Fund, but the designation provides instant respect and credibility amongst industry professionals. Whether it is talking to CEOs of large private and public companies, other portfolio managers or industry affiliates, the CFA Designation gives me the confidence I need to succeed.
Harrison Brown, CFA
Associate Portfolio Manager
CFA Charter granted in 2023
I was looking for a program and designation that would give me a strong skill set in finance. I wanted something that was difficult to achieve and held with high regard within the industry as a standard both technically and ethically. That is when I discovered the CFA Program.
Before I enrolled in the CFA Program, I attended an informational seminar. During that seminar, I was informed only 20% of the people that enroll for the Level 1 Exam go on to finish all three levels of the program and obtain their CFA Charter.
This, coupled with a focus on ethics and a wide range of financial topics covered, told me that this was the program for me. Having now earned my charter, I can confidently say that the program has given me a wealth of knowledge and background that I am able to draw on when talking with our clients. In addition to the skillset, the ethical standards that a CFA Program Member or Candidate abide by are rigorous. The CFA Institute, through the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, have their members adhere to the highest standards, often higher than local law or regulatory bodies. I am proud to be held to these standards as I believe it is in the best interests of our clients, our company, and the greater financial markets.
Kevin Kirkwood, CFA
Chief Investment Officer and Chief Compliance Officer
CFA Charter granted in 1996
Quite honestly, I did not know much about the CFA program when I first signed up in January 1994. A friend of mine in Toronto suggested I take the course as a way to get my mind off my brother who died suddenly 8 months earlier. I was rather depressed, but the course load forced me to focus on the future as opposed to dwelling on the past. My brother would have wanted that. I had completed an MBA before I started the CFA program and was amazed at how much more difficult, in-depth, and relevant it was compared to what I had experienced in university.
Simply passing the three levels of the CFA program does not mean that’s it. Rather, the CFA program prepares you for lifelong learning and skills improvement that continues throughout one’s career. I find it reassuring that as much as the world and the investment landscape have changed, much of what I learned over 25 years ago in the CFA program is still relevant today. A good deal of how Alitis has been set up reflects the CFA program and the resulting lessons learned over the years.
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