Accounting and Finance lecturer Geoffrey Injeni, from Strathmore Business School, is now among the 135,000 Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) in the world and only 85 in Kenya. Geoffrey, was officially awarded the charter in a ceremony held by the CFA® Society of East Africa on 2nd November 2016, after completing the rigorous examinations and meeting the relevant professional experience. The award is conferred by the CFA institute based in USA.
The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) credential, is the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world. The CFA® Program provides a strong foundation of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.
What does it mean to be awarded the CFA® charter?
Attaining the CFA® means that an individual is internationally recognized as an investment professional and a wealth advisor. To be a CFA ® charter holder means that an individual can carry out advanced financial statements analysis, advise both individuals and companies on matters of investing and allocating funds to get optimal returns, advise companies on risk management with emphasis on financial risk management, corporate finance and promote ethical and professional conduct in managing resources.
Why is it important for a faculty or staff to get a CFA®?
There are numerous opportunities both locally and internationally for an individual. One can work anywhere in the world as a finance and investment professional. You can be employed; you can start your own private wealth management firm, and you can also be a consultant on investment matters.
In addition, as members of the faculty, we encourage our students especially those in BCOM and BBS Financial Economics and BBS Finance to pursue CFA®. It is therefore important for us to get the CFA® as well as a good example. The knowledge acquired from studying CFA® is enriching and makes it easier to teach and transfer knowledge. School of Accounting conducts CFA® classes.
For Strathmore University, it is important to have many faculty with professional designations like CFA®, ACCA and CPA because it enhances academic programs, promotes international linkages and makes it easier for the organization and courses to be internationally accredited.
Who can take CFA exams?
Anyone with a desire to venture into the investment world or teach investment knowledge. To apply; they should have a first degree, or a professional qualification like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Association of Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA). Ones’ first degree should be preferably in business, law or statistics including actuarial science.
What does the exam entail and what is required to be awarded the CFA ® Charter?
CFA® has three levels. Level I and Level II have ten units. These units are: Ethics, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Quantitative Methods, Economics, Corporate Finance, Equities, Fixed Income, Alternative Investments, derivatives and portfolio management. Level 1 has 120 Multiple Choice Questions in the morning and another 120 questions in the afternoon. Level II has 60 questions again the morning and in the afternoon. Level III is made up of two units i.e. ethics and portfolio management. Level III has an essay in the morning section but 60 multiple choice questions in the afternoon. In Kenya the exams are only offered once a year in June. You can do Level I in December, but you travel to South Africa or Dubai. Level II and III can only be done in June.
Now, even though the exam is doable, the challenge is that the content is wide and the pass mark is on average 70%. Due to the way, it is tested, you must know your content well because the many multiple-choice questions cover the content widely. On average level II is the toughest because of the complex computations followed by Level III which is more judgmental.
Once you pass the three levels of CFA®, you need to demonstrate at least a minimum of 4 years work experience in the investment world. In addition to teaching CFA®, my practical experience was demonstrated by managing Mzima Springs SACCO as the Chairman for nearly ten years (i.e. Asset Management). I had to demonstrate how I apply the knowledge gained from CFA® in areas like credit analysis, risk management and professionalism in managing funds that I was entrusted to. CFA® also emphasizes highest levels of ethical and professional conduct, therefore one must show that they have never been unethical in the past.
When did you decide to take up CFA® and how long did it take you to get to the finish?
I decided to take up CFA® in 2009 when I started teaching the course in the Strathmore School of Accountancy. At that time, I was pursuing a Masters of Commerce (MCOM) Finance major. Despite the work commitments, I passed Level I with God’s grace in the same year. When I was preparing for level II however, it became a bit challenging as I assumed an administration role in the university – i.e. the Dean School of Finance and Applied Economics (Now Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences). It took me about 3 sittings to pass level II because I had not prepared well, though I still attempted the exams. For my level III, I was in administration and I had commenced my PhD. Therefore, balancing CFA®, my PhD, my work and my family, was not easy but I eventually managed to complete the exam in 2016.
I enjoyed the experience though, because I learnt a lot. I still read CFA® alongside my PhD, not only for teaching but because of the immense knowledge it affords.
Injeni’s PhD study evaluates how applicable integrated reporting is to Nairobi Stock Exchange Listed companies.
How did you balance undertaking your PhD and studying the CFA®?
It was a tough balance, but I learnt to read early. I would come to work very early and read the materials, or wake up late in the night to study, and then work on practice tests on the weekend. My family was very encouraging and urged me to move forward with a promise that I don’t pursue CFA® forever!
Because of teaching CFA®, I gained a lot of knowledge that helped me with the units I was reading. I am glad that I completed CFA® because it is a great relief; I can now focus on my PhD.
What would you advise those who are willing to pursue CFA® exams?
Because of the nature of CFA®, and the rigor of exams, it is advisable for students who take up CFA® to only do so if they either wish to teach CFA® or finance, or are already teaching and are keen on working in the investment industry. Otherwise the effort put into attaining the CFA® is a lot and needs those with a lot of commitment to walk that journey. It is not worth undertaking for the sake of adding a certificate to one’s list of certificates.
Congratulations to Injeni on this great achievement!