Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) - how to obtain this prestigious certificate?

20.08.2015 15:35

CFA certificate is the most prestigious and respected investment destination in the world, recognised by many employers as a symbol of professional excellence. Therefore, obtaining such a qualification signifies the expertise with the broad range of skills needed in the investment analysis and decision making, including portfolio management, assets valuation, fund management, investment advice and etc. If you are interested in developing your career in finance and gaining the CFA credential, this article is definitely for you. If not, let us convince you to have a try at reaching this certificate :)


Basic information on CFA

According to the newest official CFA charter brochure, currently there are more than 120.000 CFA charter holders working in over 135 countries in the world. Every aspiring financier dreams of joining such an exclusive group. But unfortunately it is not that easy as it may seem. In fact, passing the demanding exam is a challenging task indeed. Below we have prepared a list of things required in order to reach the CFA credential. So, if you want to get certified, you must:

  • Have at least four years of qualifying investment work experience,
  • Become a member of CFA Institute, pledging to adhere to highest ethical standards,
  • Apply for membership to local CFA Society,
  • Complete the CFA Program.

It is worth to know that CFA program is the first part of becoming Chartered Financial Analyst. Its curriculum covers wide range of topics, focused especially on investment knowledge. Program is divided into three levels and average time of completing the whole is from two to five years. CFA Institute does not limit the number of sittings that candidate may repeat an exam, nor specify the time frame. There are ten main topics included in the syllabus:

  1. Ethics and professional standards
  2. Quantitive Methods
  3. Economics
  4. Financial Reporting and Analysis
  5. Corporate Finance
  6. Equity Investments
  7. Fixed Income
  8. Derivatives
  9. Alternative Investments
  10. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 

Brief description of each level

Level 1 is dedicated to basic knowledge of the ten topic areas as well as simple analysis using investment valuation and portfolio management tools. In this part, exam consists of 240 Multiple Choice Questions, divided into two three-hour lasting sessions that candidates must to attend.

Level 2 covers more complex problems, with focus on asset valuation, analysis of investment vehicles and instrument, as well as application of tools gained during Level 1. This stage includes 20 item set questions fragmented to two sessions. Each item set includes vignette (1 – 2.5 page information which provides information inevitable for solving questions) and 6 multiple choice questions, which give 120 item questions in total.

Level 3 focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning. Similarly to Level 1 and Level 2, exam is divided into two sessions. Morning session covers 8-12 essay questions and afternoon session covers 10 item set questions.

How to prepare?

Furthermore, the levels of CFA programme must be passed sequentially. We have to bare in mind that praparing for the exam  is quite time consuming. It takes approximately 250-300 hours for getting ready to take each level. Exam sittings are annual, in early June; moreover, Level 1 sitting takes place also in December.

To participate to the programme, you must firstly enroll and register via CFA Institute website. There are some entrance requirements, such as having bachelor’s degree and valid international passport. CFA Institute provides range of materials for registered students. Curriculum samples, study sessions and exam samples are included in registration fee. They are available online for all registered candidates. It is widely advised to make use of this helpful tool during preparations for exams. 

It is even more advised to use our professionally prepared theoretical materials and online tests in the proccess of studying for the exam!


Check now our compeletely free CFA course!