Chartered Financial Analyst® Overview
The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation is an international professional certification offered by the CFA® Institute
(formerly AIMR®) to financial analysts who complete a series of three examinations. To become a CFA® Charterholder candidates
must pass each of three six-hour exams, possess a bachelor's degree (or equivalent, as assessed by CFA® institute) andhave 48 months
of qualified, professional work experience. CFA® charterholders are also obligated to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards
governing their professional conduct.
The predecessor of CFA® Institute, the Financial Analysts Federation (FAF®), was originally established in 1947 as a service organization for investment professionals in its societies and chapters. In 1990, in hopes of boosting the credential's public profile, CFA® Institute (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research or AIMR®) was created from the merger of the FAF and the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts (ICFA®). Many Financial Analysts (FA credential) were "grandfathered" into CFA® charterholders without taking any of current levels as a result of the 1990 merger between the ICFA and FAF.
The CFA® program began in the United States but has become increasingly international with many people becoming charterholders across Europe, Asia and Australia. By 2003 fewer than half the candidates in the CFA® program were based in the US and Canada, with most of the other candidates based in Asia or Europe. India and China have shown some of the highest growth from 2005-2006 with increases of 25% and 53% respectively in the total number of charter holders.
1. The basic entrance requirements for the CFA® Program include:
- You need to have a B.Sc (or equivalent) degree
- or be in the final year of your bachelor's degree program at the time of registration
- or have four years of professional work experience (does not have to be investment related)
- or have a combination of professional work and college experience that totals at least four years. Part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment.
- Have a valid international travel passport (required for exam registration and admission to the test center).
Focus: Level I provides a strong foundation in investment knowledge and the tools needed to apply these concepts in practice.
Format: The Level I exam consists of 180 multiple choice questions, split between two 135-minute sessions (session times are approximate). There is an optional break between sessions.
- First session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering the topics of ethics & professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, and financial statement analysis
- Second session (2 hours, 15 minutes): 90 multiple choice questions, covering the topics of corporate issuers, equity, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management
- Focus: Level II emphasizes asset valuation and includes applications of the tools and concepts learned in Level I.
Structure: The CFA Level II exam consists of 22 item sets comprised of vignettes with 88 accompanying multiple-choice questions.
Duration: The Level II exam will be 4 hours and 24 minutes, split into two equal sessions of 2 hours and 12 minutes, with an optional break in-between.
- Topics: The Level II exam covers topics like ethics and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, portfolio management.
Focus: Level III focuses on portfolio management and wealth planning, and tests the candidate's ability to synthesize and apply concepts from the entire curriculum.
Format: The following exam format changes will take immediate effect beginning with the February Level III exam.
- Constructed response (essay) questions mixed into both exam sessions: Previously, the first session was all essay sets and the second session was all item sets. Each session will now have either 6 item sets and 5 essay sets or 5 item sets and 6 essay sets. The mixed distribution of item types across the two exam sessions will create a more-balanced delivery of questions throughout the exam. Overall the Level III exam will still contain 11 essay sets and 11 item sets for 12 points each.
- Highlighting functionality available within the vignette: Candidates now have the ability to highlight pertinent text within the vignette for each question. Previously, this functionality was limited to the question itself and not the supporting vignette.
- Math editor function removed: Previously, candidates had the option to use a built-in math editor to describe calculation steps or show values for essay questions. This functionality has caused some confusion in the past and has now been removed. An essay text box will accept typed words and numbers. A correct numerical value typed in the essay box by itself receives full credit – formulas and explanations are not required. If you choose to do so, you may describe steps used in the calculation by typing out variables in an equation using normal keyboard strokes.
- Topics: The Level III exam covers portfolio management and wealth planning, along with ethics and professional standards.
Structure: The Level III exam consists of item sets comprised of vignettes with accompanying multiple-choice items and constructed response (essay) questions.
All questions must be answered based on the information in the vignette. Hence, the items are not free-standing, as in the CFA Level I exam. You will need to refer to the vignette before answering each item.
Duration: The Level III exam will be 4 hours and 24 minutes, split into two equal sessions of 2 hours and 12 minutes, with an optional break in-between.
Passing and Grading
CFA exams are scored on a 0-100 scale. To pass each level, candidates need to achieve a minimum passing score, which is determined by the CFA Institute based on the difficulty of the exam. The pass rate varies from year to year and level to level.
CFA® Institute does not endorse, promote warrant the accuracy or quality of [3V Learning Centre]. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFAInstitute