Banking Certifications

Certifications that can help banking professionals command higher salaries and advance their careers

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What are Banking Certifications?

When considering a career in banking, having appropriate banking certifications can enhance your reputation. For existing banking professionals, working toward a banking certification can help with quicker career progression and greater earning power.

Banking Certifications

Although banking certifications are not mandatory, clients and prospects tend to perceive accreditations as valuable, as the long hours spent in training and the academic requirements to complete these certifications generally signal high ethical and professional standards.

Individuals seeking to get these certifications must complete many hours of coursework and pass a professional examination at the end of the various programs.

Key Highlights

  • Banking certifications are designed to increase a candidate’s professional preparedness and overall marketability.
  • Examples of highly regarded banking certifications include CFA, CPA, CBCA, FRM, and MBA.
  • Financial services professionals with banking certifications generally enjoy better career mobility and higher earning potential.

Top 5 Banking Certifications

The following are the best certifications that banking professionals should consider when looking to build or advance a career in financial services.

1. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA designation is one of the most popular and rigorous certifications on the market for banking and finance professionals. The certification is administered by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. The CFA program comprises three levels that candidates are required to complete and pass.

A finance professional with a CFA certification is highly regarded in the banking industry. They are considered experts in a variety of fields, such as economics, portfolio management, investment banking, and equity research and analysis. Professionals with the CFA credential may work as financial analysts in investment banks, asset managers like mutual funds, corporate or commercial banks, insurance firms, hedge funds, and consultancy firms.

2. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The CPA certification is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and it targets professionals primarily in accounting but also across a variety of other banking and finance roles. The CPA certification is highly valued in the modern workplace, and some argue that it represents the highest level of methodological competence and accomplishment for anyone that must prepare or understand financial statements.

The CPA certification requires a combination of coursework and practical experience, plus at least 150 hours of preparation for the examination. It covers a wide range of topics, such as auditing, taxation, business law, financial accounting, management accounting, financial reporting, and risk management. 

3. Commercial Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)

The CBCA is a certification program designed specifically for current and aspiring commercial credit professionals like relationship managers, credit analysts, adjudicators, and loan brokers. It’s considered highly practical (as opposed to theoretical) and very valuable to business lenders at commercial banks, credit unions, equipment finance firms, and commercial real estate lenders.

The program is entirely online and self-paced, including the examination, which is also delivered electronically. Relative to the first two certifications, the CBCA requires much less time to complete (around 50 hours of coursework). 

4. Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

The FRM certification is granted by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). Candidates are required to complete detailed coursework and pass a two-part eight-hour test. The course is revised periodically to include new trends and changes in the area of risk management.

Professionals who pass the FRM certification course often work in banks as risk analysts and risk officers; they also support private clients in making more prudent investment and risk management decisions. FRM-certified professionals use financial instruments to manage exposure to credit risk, market risk, and liquidity risk.

5. Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA is by no means a banking-specific certification; however, it is one of the most common credentials held by banking professionals. While the other certifications in this list target highly specific areas of banking and financial services (accounting, investments, credit, risk management, etc.) the MBA is widely considered to be one of the most valuable generalist credentials available to banking professionals.

An MBA signals to clients and prospects a high level of business and financial acumen. The most commonly cited drawback of MBA training is its cost, however – both financial and opportunity. An MBA is much more expensive than any of the other credentials listed here; it also generally requires at least the equivalent of 1 year (full-time) course work, which may require that candidates take time away from the workforce.

CFI offers the Commercial Banking & Credit Analyst™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful:

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