From the desk of Tom Bruni @BruniCharting
Every few weeks I get a message from someone asking a question along the lines of “Should I enroll in the CMT Program?” As with most things, the answer is it depends on your individual situation.
While I can’t offer personalized advice to everyone, I can discuss my experience and the key benefits now that I’ve completed the process.
This post is going to be split into two parts; one where I explain my answer to the question that prompted this post, and the other where I summarize my actual experience in the program.
If you’re not familiar with what a Chartered Market Technician is or what the program entails, you can learn about the basics here. I’d recommend you read through that before getting into my post if you can, as I don’t want to make this post too long.
Part 1: Should I Enroll In The CMT Program?
The way I typically begin the conversation is by re-framing the “CMT” title.
For the most part when you open help wanted ads or look through titles at a company, you’re not going to see “CMT” as an open position. That’s because being a CMT is not a job in and of itself, it’s a skillset that can be applied to various positions in Finance that deal with public markets.
Portfolio Managers, Analysts, Traders (prop & execution), Market Strategists, Individual Investors, etc. The skills learned by attaining the CMT designation would all help people in all these positions.
The second thing I tell people is that while having your CMT (or any other applicable designation) can help demonstrate your technical skills and commitment to continual improvement, it’s not enough to get you the job you want. There are a lot of reasonable ways to differentiate your name from others that are applying for the same position, but at the end of the day it’s going to take a lot more than that to get it.
Once you’re in the door, you’ll notice that the letters that most people carry behind their name are DGAF (Don’t Give A F*#@).
They’re less concerned about what program you went through and more with your demonstrated technical qualifications, personality, etc. Yes, the fact that you completed these programs may provide some color on your character/type of person you are, but for the most part they’re going to learn those things by interacting with you.
So Tom, it doesn’t sound like the CMT Program (or any program for that matter) is my ticket to easy street. Guess that means it’s not valuable.
No. No. No. No. That’s not what you’re supposed to take from this. It adds a ton of value, just not in the “golden ticket” type of way.
You still have to do the work.
Here’s where I think it adds a lot of value.
The Curriculum: The three consolidated books are great and prepare you for the exams. There’s only so much they can test in each exam and therefore have to limit how deep they get into any one particular topic. It won’t teach you everything you need to know about RSI from A to Z, but it does lay a foundation of general knowledge that you can then build upon.
In the not-so-distant past the cirriculum was actually a list of texts with classics like “Technical Analysis of Stock Trends” by Edwards and Magee, “Technical Analysis of Financial Markets” by John Murphy, “Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques” by Steve Nison, and many others.
Although the new curriculum covers everything you need to know for the test, life isn’t a test so your studying shouldn’t stop there. I’d encourage you to go back and read the books on that list because they’ll provide more in-depth content about specific topics that those authors were experts in.
They did a great job at developing and advancing the Art and Science of Technical Analysis, but it’s our turn to take the baton and use the technology and other resources we have today to build on the work that they’ve done for the last 50+ years.
The tests are just the start. Use them as avenues to further explore the content you’re most passionate about.
The Network: Whether it’s through the CMT’s Annual Symposium, one of their Chapter Meetings, or other industry events, you need to meet people. The way we all improve and get ahead is by collaborating and working together. If you’re looking for a group of open and like-minded individuals to develop professional and personal relationships with, there’s no better place than through the CMT Program.
Once you pass the exams you need three sponsors to vet your work experience and vouch for you as a candidate, so at the least you’ll meet and develop strong relationships with three people. Hopefully many more.
As with every group of people, there are some folks that are a bit less “cheery” than others. Look past them and find the ones who really love what they do and are more than happy to help in any way they can.
Bonus Tip: Use your age/novice experience to your benefit while you can. Very few people are going to tell a college student or a new student of the markets to piss off…and if they do, then you don’t want to associate with them anyway.
We’re all just people. The sooner you realize that, the less difficult it is to put yourself out there.
The Culture: At the end of the day we’re all market participants selfishly interested in two things:
- Making money in the market
- Advancing the field of Technical Analysis
Being surrounded by people that are focused on the same things as you can only push you to work harder/smarter and be better in your professional endeavors.
Other Resources: The CMT Program has a plethora of resources for Candidates and Members, ranging from access to the Optuma charting platform while you study to a library of books available through the Technical Analysis Educational Foundation and a database of all Charterholders from around the world. If you’re going to pay to be an affiliate or member, you might as well take advantage of them!
Conclusion: Sure it’s a commitment of both money and time, but the best investment you can make at a young age (or any age) is in yourself. Learning skills that compound over time. That’s where your returns will come from over the long-term.
So should you enroll in the CMT Program? I don’t know, but if you have an interest in public markets and want to learn more about Technical Analysis then I think the reward/risk of joining is ridiculously skewed in your favor.
Last thing: It’s not an either or proposition when choosing which designations to pursue. Often times a job will require a mix of skillsets to be successful. Maybe you need the CFA as well, maybe something else. Who knows. Just remember it’s not “Us vs. Them”. We can, and should, all work together. So pursue what’s best for your own individual goals/situation.
My CMT Program Experience: I started studying Technical Analysis on my own about six years ago, but didn’t pursue the designation because I was still figuring out what career path I was interested in and what my life was going to look like. I remained an “affiliate” of the CMT Association, attending NY Chapter meetings and Industry events to network and support the organization wherever I could. Through Twitter and blogging and attending these events, I met and became friends with many of the Technicians I was learning from day in and day out. It was great.
After trying many career paths, I decided the corporate world and Accounting weren’t for me and I left EY to join All Star Charts in early ’18.
At that point I had already passed the Level I CMT exam, was studying for level II, and was attending my first CMT Annual Symposium. What an event that was. In addition to being a great networking opportunity, the amount of information I walked away with was enormous. New ideas, new challenges, it was great.
About a year later I received my official Designation in the mail and that’s it…my journey is over.
It’s just beginning! I’m getting involved as a Co-Chair of the NY Chapter, seeing how I can assist with the Educational Foundation’s goal of advancing Technical Analysis’ foothold in Academia, and doing whatever else I can to give back to the organization that’s helped me so much.
Anyway, that’s a brief summary of my journey from college student to Accountant to CMT over the last six years.
I hope this post was somewhat helpful. If anything’s unclear, you have other questions I didn’t answer, or just want to chat about the CMT Program or markets, hit me up anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to chatting with you soon!
P.S. I also made a video with JC talking a bit about my experience, so check that out in addition to the summary info I provided above.