A Quick FAQ to the CFA Charter

July 8, 2016
CFA Study

No doubt you have heard of the Fun Facts You Didn’t Know about the CFA Exam Chartered Financial Analyst Program (CFA), the most globally recognized and respected investment management credential in the world. In this blog we answer some questions regarding what it costs, if you’re eligible, and how much time you need to put aside to give it a good shot.

What is the CFA?

CFA Charter

The CFA is a credential as well as a passport to the largest club of investment professionals in the world. Being a charter member means many regulatory agencies will offer waiver from licensing exams, graduate programs give you a waiver of the GMAT and many financial and investment-related certification organizations grant waivers from qualifying exams or continuing education requirements.

Because the CFA curriculum is incorporated into more than 300 business schools around the world, you are essentially learning what is taught in some of the best schools in the world. And the charter is often a prerequisite to many prestigious jobs in Investment Management.

How does one become a CFA Charter Holder?

Here’s the thing. It’s not just the passing of an exam. You cannot actually call yourself a CFA without being a CFA Charter Holder. The CFA requires you to do 4 things before you can become a CFA charter holder.

  • You need to agree to follow the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. This is why Ethics and Professional Standards comprise 15 percent of the Level 1 exam.
  • Pass the CFA Program exams for Levels I, II, and III. Watch this space for in depth posts on Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 exams.
  • Have four years of qualified work experience in investment decision-making. This means having 48 months of experience in Investment Management that can be accrued either before, during or after the exam. The work experience is not a pre-requisite for the exam itself.
  • Become a regular member of CFA Institute and apply for membership in a CFA member society. Watch this space on a dedicated post to becoming a member of the CFA Institute.

What Jobs does it prepare you for?

Where do people land up after they do the CFA? Well here’s the break up. A majority of them go into Investment Management, which is what the course is geared towards. 23 percent become portfolio managers, 16 percent become Research Analysts, while the rest are distributed almost equally across Risk Management, C level positions, consultants, corporate financial analysts and financial advisory.

How many levels do I need to pass to get the CFA?

There are three levels and exams are held annually, biannual for Level 1.

  • Level I tests your knowledge of the ethical and professional standards and the exams consists of basic knowledge and comprehension questions focused on investment tools; some questions will require analysis.
  • Level II tests how you apply those standards to situations analysts face and emphasizes more complex analysis, along with a focus on valuing assets.
  • Level III tests how you apply the standards in a portfolio management and compliance context and require synthesis of all the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning.

All exams are in English and are held in June. Level 1 is also held in December. Check the CFA website for exact dates.

How much does it cost?

There is a one-time enrollment fee of $450 with a two-day refund policy.

If you want to register for the December Level 1 exam, you will pay a standard fee of $860 dollars if you register by 17th August and $1260 if you register by 14th September. If you plan to do it next year, then you can pay $650 if you register early.

In total, the three levels including one-time enrollment fee works out to $2400 if you register early every time, $3030 if you register normally.

Post passing all three levels, becoming a member of the CFA charter (required for you to actually use the CFA designation) will require you to pay $275 annually to the CFA institute and your local charter.

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