If you are considering pursuing the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) certification, I am here to give an honest review that will hopefully provide you with the information you are looking for.
I have taken this online training program myself and will share my thoughts from first-hand experience.
As someone who has worked in financial roles for a few different companies, I believe I have a good grasp on how this certification may or may not help you as a professional or even a student.
Let me lay out the structure of this review:
- Background on CFI and the FMVA Certification
- Why you can trust CFI and the FMVA
- The benefits and features of the FMVA
- What I liked about the program
- Drawbacks of the FMVA
- The verdict on if it’s worth it
Corporate Finance Institute (CFI)
Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) is a global organization that provides online courses for financial analysts and other finance and investment professionals.
Since CFI’s formation in 2016, over 500,000 individuals have taken their programs and pursued their certifications. Their material has benefited individuals from top universities, investment banks, accounting firms, and companies across the world. Total website visits to corporatefinanceinstitute.com is approaching 5 million according to SimilarWeb.
CFI’s mission is to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst by bridging the “skill gap” that many have when transitioning into finance. Students in school learn a lot of theoretical knowledge. They may take financial modeling classes in college, but they aren’t always in depth or practical.
As a result, incoming financial analysts enter the workforce lacking the skills and knowledge to perform at their job. CFI’s programs offer practical online education and training to equip individuals with a well-rounded skill set to excel as a financial analyst.
Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Certification
The flagship program of CFI is the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Certification.
This program helps bridge the skill gap between formal education and the real world of finance. The FMVA certification can be completed 100% online, which gives you the flexibility to complete it and learn at your own pace.
When you enroll in the FMVA, you will have access to 24 online courses covering topics across corporate finance including:
- Financial modeling
- Budgeting and Forecasting
- Presentation and Visuals
To graduate and earn the FMVA credential, one must complete all 9 core courses and 3 elective courses.
Two options are offered for the FMVA program: FMVA Self-Study ($497) and FMVA Full Immersion ($847).
The Full Immersion program comes with additional access, materials, support, and services. I opted for the Self-Study program since I was primarily interested in enrolling in the program to improve my financial modeling skills.
Why Trust CFI and the (FMVA)®?
If you are going to drop $500, you are going to do all the research you can to make sure you are getting your money’s worth and can trust the program and the company behind it.
Although CFI has only been around since 2016, it has quickly become a go-to resource for students and professionals. Their blog provides informational posts on the many terms used in accounting and finance. I would say their content is just as helpful as a site like Investopedia.
Their blog also has free tutorials on how to perform certain analyses and build financial models. It isn’t nearly as detailed as what you get in the FMVA program, but it is still very helpful.
Think of any term used in finance and Google it. A post from CFI is likely at the top of the search results. Corporate Finance Institute has grown in authority by providing valuable free content to its audience.
The instructors for the FMVA certification have worked at some of the most well-known banks and institutions in the world and have over 21+ years of financial analyst training experience. This real-world experience shows through in the video lectures.
When I was contemplating if I should enroll or not, I wanted to be sure the instructors were credible. You want to learn from those who have accomplished what you are looking to accomplish. The instructors have decades of experience across various roles in finance.
The FMVA Certification
The FMVA certification has the stats to back it up. As of the date of this review, over 400,000 individuals have enrolled in the FMVA program. They would not have hundreds of thousands enrolling if they did not have a good product.
Their site also shows that graduates of the program go on to work at prestigous companies such as Deloitte, Amazon, J.P. Morgan, Starbucks, and many more.
CFI and the FMVA program are reputable and can be trusted. After going through the program myself, the value I have received is multiples greater than the $497 I paid to enroll.
Benefits and Features of the FMVA
If you are reading this review, you have probably already seen CFI’s information page on the FMVA at this link here. I won’t regurgitate all their information, but I’ll quickly list what you’ll get with the Self-Study program for $497.
- 24 courses
- The FMVA Certification for proof you completed the program
- Lifetime access
- Quizzes, assignments, and tests
- Excel, PPT, and PDF files
- Financial models and templates library
What I Liked About the FMVA Program
Alright, let’s finally get into my review about the FMVA certification. I’ll start with what I liked about it.
The FMVA program consists on 24 online courses which cover a lot of ground. As stated before, you can learn everything from finance, accounting, and strategy to financial modeling, using PowerPoint, and building pitchbooks.
I found a lot of value in the 9 elective courses, which offer education on more niche industries and skills, including:
- Real estate financial modeling
- E-commerce financial modeling
- M&A financial modeling
- Mining financial modeling
- Renewable energy – solar financial modeling
I have worked in 3 financial roles since finishing school in 2017. The FMVA would have provided immense value to me during my senior year of college and in any of the 3 roles.
The instructors do an excellent job of teaching. They are clear, concise, and explain everything in an easy to understand manner. All courses are comprised of short video clips of around 1 to 4 minutes each, making them a breeze to watch. They are straight and to the point and give you the information you need to become well-versed.
You are able to adjust the play speed of the videos. I always have videos set to 2x speed so I can consume the content faster.
Valuable downloadable content
I found just as much value from the downloadable content as I did from the video lectures. For each course, you are able to download files including:
- Blank and completed Excel files for the models and exercises
- A PDF of the slides used in the video lectures
- Cases used in the lectures
In addition, your enrollment grants you access to a library of financial models and templates for Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. When I look into my CFI folder saved on my desktop, it shows around 250 files. That’s 250 resources and templates you can reference, reproduce, and learn from!
I use these to reference when building a new model from scratch. Oftentimes, looking at the templates can give me ideas on how to build a different type of model.
Not just knowledge, but skills
With the FMVA program, you aren’t just acquiring knowledge. You are learning real-world skills that you can transfer over into your professional life. Using Excel effectively and efficiently is a skill. Financial modeling is a skill. And building aesthetically pleasing presentations and pitch books is a skill.
The only reason I was hired for the company I am currently at was due to my financial modeling capabilities. It wasn’t because of my book smarts. I can’t stress enough how beneficial these skills can be for your career. They will open up opportunities for you and allow you to perform your job effectively.
Lifetime access is a major bonus for this program. In comparison, courses to study for the GMAT or CFA often only allow you access for 6 to 12 months. The FMVA program granting you lifetime access allows you to reference the coursework whenever you need to look up or brush up on something.
When you aren’t using your skills frequently, you end up forgetting how to do things. For example, I build financial models for solar projects often, so the Renewable Energy – Solar Financial Modeling course is one that I know well.
Every now and then, we will look into a real estate deal. Since it isn’t as frequent, I am not as well-versed in real estate modeling. In a situation like that, I’ll go back to the list of courses and review the Real Estate Financial Modeling elective course. After a quick review, it all starts to come back to me.
I didn’t enroll in the FMVA to get the certification or designation. I only enrolled in it for the skills I could acquire and hone.
However, if you are in it for the certification, it is extremely convenient with it being 100% online. You can go through the courses at your own pace until you complete all the requirements to graduate.
Drawbacks of the FMVA
It was tough to find any drawbacks to the FMVA. With the two drawbacks I’ll list, you will see that they aren’t even that bad.
Easy quizzes and exams
To pass each course and the overall program, you’ll have to complete quizzes and exams and score 80% or better. You can take each assessment as many times as you want and they are essentially open book. Nothing is stopping you from having another tab open with the instruction material to look at.
Because of this, everything is easy to pass and complete. This certification isn’t like the CFA or CPA where you have one testing opportunity at a time to pass. You can pass all the requirements by attempting the same quizzes and exams again and again until you score an 80% or better.
Just because the certification is easy to obtain does not mean there is no value. The value you receive is dependent on your own diligence. If you truly test yourself and don’t rely on the instruction materials or completed financial models, you will be able to test yourself and learn more.
Certification is not as prestigious as others (yet)
Since the FMVA certification is relatively new and is easily obtained, it is not as prestigious of a certification yet. The program has rapidly grown in popularity and changes are being made to make the assessments more challenging.
It’s possible that the FMVA certification can eventually reach the status of something like a CFA or CPA.
This doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The skills you build should be the primary motivation for enrolling in the FMVA program. Don’t do it just to put some letters by your name on LinkedIn.
The Verdict: Is the FMVA Worth It?
I’ll get straight to the point. This is probably the best course out there you can buy to become a world-class financial analyst. The company that produced the FMVA is comprised of experienced professionals in the world of finance.
You aren’t learning from those in academia or some random person online that makes money by selling courses. You are learning from professionals who have real-world experience and know what knowledge and skills you need in order to succeed.
The $497 I spent on the Self-Study program is a bargain in my opinion. The value from the courses is much greater than that. My skills in financial modeling improved, which make me better at my current job and make me more experienced and marketable for any opportunities in the future.
Think of your enrollment in the FMVA as an investment, not a cost. If you go through the program in college or early into your career, you’ll be equipped with real skills you can transfer over to provide value to a firm.
A financial modeling assessment is becoming more common during the interviewing process for investment banks and other companies. Taking this course can be the difference maker of landing you the job or getting denied.
Imagine you have an interview for a prestigious position. During the interview process, they send you a financial modeling assessment.
There two scenarios:
- You haven’t enrolled in the FMVA program so your only modeling skills come from what you learned in college. You are unable to complete the modeling assessment and you don’t get the job. However, you land another job with a starting salary that is $15,000 less than the prestigious job.
- You enroll in the FMVA and improve your financial modeling skills. You ace the modeling assessment and land the job!
That $497 investment resulted in getting hired for a coveted role. By landing that role, you start with a salary that is $15,000 higher than the other role you would have gotten without the FMVA.
This is a theoretical scenario, but something that can likely happen. And this is just one example of showing the potential benefits and worth of the program.
Bottom line: The FMVA Certification is worth it.
The FMVA Certification is a fantastic program to help you become a world-class financial analyst.
This can be beneficial to those still in college as well as those who are already into their careers. The program will teach you knowledge about the various aspects of corporate finance and will equip you with actual skills you can use to land you a new job or perform better at your current job.
Over 400,000 individuals have enrolled in the FMVA program at this point. Don’t get left behind. Invest in yourself and your education and always be willing to work on your craft as a financial analyst.