Joining only 146 participating institutions nationally and 331 worldwide, FIU’s Master of Science in Finance program has earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst Program affiliate.
“It brings a lot of prestige,” said Mark Del Pezzo, a finance and investments instructor in FIU’s Business College and CFA charterholder for over 20 years, who is the coordinator of the University Affiliation Program. “This highly respected designation puts our program in more demand, and is great for the college overall.”
The CFA course of study is organized in three levels, and each level requires passing a six-hour exam. It takes about 300 hours of study to prepare for each exam.
“It’s a long course, and can be a grueling process – pass rates are less than 30 percent,” Del Pezzo said. “But if you’re planning to manage money for a large institution, or work in corporate finance, it’s very important.”
Fifteen CFA Institute scholarships are available to the 60 students in the MSF cohort. First-level exams are in December and June, so “we expect a lot of scholarship requests at the end of this term in advance of the June exam,” Del Pezzo said.
Financial assistance, networking opportunities.
The scholarships reduce the financial burden for cash-strapped students. CFA fees can exceed $4,000, but scholarship recipients pay just $350 for each level. They also receive membership in the local CFA society, “providing valuable networking opportunities that improve chances of getting really good job,” Del Pezzo said.
Recipient Elizabeth Penagos said the scholarship is important to her, “a recognition of my efforts.”
“I arrived from Venezuela in 2015 with nothing,” she said. “Becoming a CFA charterholder is the best way for me to find an interesting position in many companies, in any country – to reach my goals.”
She’s passed the first-level exam, and said her analytic skills have improved enormously.
“The CFA exams set a standard in terms of knowledge,” she said. “That’s brought the program recognition in the finance industry worldwide.”
Another recipient, Elena Shamina, recently represented FIU at the Prospanica and National Black MBA Association leadership conference in Philadelphia. With her bank internship ending, she’s grateful for the scholarship aid and “all the outstanding people at FIU, who vouched for me with their votes of trust and confidence.”
“I also provide for my father and grandparents back in Russia,” Shamina said. “This generous assistance gives me the opportunity to pursue my dream career. CFA is the globally recognized professional enhancement tool to establish your credentials.”
MSF students have the advantage of working with three professors who know the challenge well: Finance Department Chair Shahid Hamid, who is “very enthused about this,” Yeonju Jang, and Joel Barber.
Plus, new FIU Business College Dean Joanne Li is a longtime preferred speaker for the CFA Institute, and past editor-in-chief for the Stalla CFA program.
“The CFA is the gold standard for the investment field, or any profession related to finance,” Li said. “Having a university-approved program speaks highly of our faculty’s qualifications and our commitment to achieving excellence for our program and students.”
Del Pezzo, University Relations Chair and board member of CFA Society Miami, worked with Hamid to determine which FIU program was the best CFA candidate. To qualify, a school’s curriculum must have 70 percent or more of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge, and the MSF program included a lot of that subject matter.
MSF Program Director Brice Dupoyet and Isabel Lopez, associate director for finance and real estate graduate business programs, were instrumental in mapping the application process, Del Pezzo said. He added that FIU may consider applying for CFA designation for an undergraduate program as well.
“Our goal is to further develop our relationship with the CFA Institute, since it’s the gold standard in finance,” he said.