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Top 5 countries where a CFA® charter can land you a job in 2019

If the data is anything to go by, the new millennial dream is to work abroad - and what better way to do it than with a cushy offer to work in some of the world's best places for expats?

Let's start here: Do young people in Singapore and Malaysia even want to work abroad?

Why yes, they do.

According to a Channel NewsAsia article, the number of Singaporeans working abroad has increased over the years to over 200,000. Meanwhile, a piece from The Star claims Malaysia has about one million citizens working abroad - and those in the finance sector in particular report a strong desire to fly the coop.

The desire for overseas working experience is particularly strong among young people - seven in 10 Singaporean millennials are ready to move overseas for work, while this number rises to nine in 10 Malaysian millennials.

Why work abroad? Home is comfy...

Yes, relocating is troublesome - but it's also exciting for many people. Among some of the top reasons people choose to work overseas are to upgrade their skills and gain overseas experience.

A job abroad can offer higher pay, - both while working abroad and after returning home - as well as give people something to highlight on their resume to make them stand out from the crowd.

Loads of people also feel that with globalisation, not going overseas is in fact going to put you at a massive disadvantage, especially when applying to global companies who look for applicants with international experience.

On a more personal note, some people like living in a different country as it exposes them to other ways of life: new environment, better work-life balance, or more opportunities than what’s available back home.

Is getting a job overseas easy?

Simply put, no.

Most of the time, a local candidate is arguably cheaper and much less of an administrative hassle to hire than an overseas candidate.

Generally, a company is typically willing hire a foreigner over a local if:

  • The person brings with them outside knowledge the company needs

  • It's an internal transfer within a MNC

  • There's no difference between hiring a local and a foreigner as skill sets are universal for that role across the world (i.e engineer, scientist, mathematician, doctor)

So how does having a CFA® charter help me work overseas?

Having a charter is almost like possessing a universal skill - it's recognised in over 165 countries. This means you can earn the charter in one country, and it would be just as valid in at least 164 more places!

This is important, because it greatly boosts your chances of landing a banking or investment job overseas, compared to someone without the certification. It will also give you a massive leg up over a local without a charter, since companies are willing to pay a premium for people with the title.

Which countries are hiring CFA® charterholders, then?

To figure out demand, let's look a bit at supply. According to CFA Institute, these were the 10 countries with the most new charterholders in 2018:

  • China (19,598 people)

  • USA (12,126 people)

  • India (6,889 people)

  • Canada (4,392 people)

  • UK (4,367 people)

  • Australia (3,357 people)

  • Hong Kong (2,289 people)

  • Singapore (1,379 people)

  • South Africa (1,369 people)

  • UAE (1,054 people)

It's very likely that the job market is ripe for those with the charter in these countries (otherwise, why would the locals bother getting certified? People know it's a massive pain!) - so we can be quite confident these are the places actively hiring those with the designation.

Ok, so which of these is a good place to work?

Of course, not all these countries might be appealing, so let's look at the places ranked as the top countries in the world for expats to live in.

This means they are also likely to have a significant expat community, and are probably open and welcoming to foreigners living and working there. The living conditions are also great, according to the World Economic Forum.

These are the countries that featured in both lists:

  • USA

  • Canada

  • Australia

  • Singapore

  • UAE

Here's what it means: with a charter, you stand a far better chance to land a banking job in five out of the world's 10 most desirable countries for foreigners: the US, Canada, Australia, the UAE, and Singapore.

So if you're a young person whose goal it is to work overseas in sometime in banking and finance, the best way to get there might just be to get your hands on the charter.


Still considering if the CFA® Program is for you? More information about the exam is available here.

If you think an exam prep course will be useful for you to pass the exams, check out our classes here.


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