CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Program – (CFA Level I, CFA Level II and CFA Level III)
The CFA program constituting CFA Level I, CFA Level II and CFA Level III exams is unique and it is arguably the most reputed certification of its kind globally. And the reasons are compelling. It is focused on asset management and investment research, both of which are multibillion dollar industries. The program is a brilliantly balanced mix of concepts and practice that is meant to train practitioners and hence the program is rigorous and comprehensive. The CFA body of knowledge is regularly reviewed and updated so that candidates are armed with the latest tools, ideas and concepts. An important aspect that sets it apart is the emphasis on Ethics which is seen as key not merely from a CFA exam perspective but above and beyond that; CFA charter holders are held to the highest standards of professional conduct.
Because of all this, the CFA charter has, in effect, become the Gold Standard in the industry. This also explains why, even 50 years after it came into being CFA continues to be a growth story that attracts hundreds of thousands of ambitious students globally.
Foundation - The focus of CFA Level I is on building the fundamental concepts. It is almost like Finance 101 and the exam is highly conceptual. Fairly broad (with 10 topics), relatively shallow yet as lot of the latter two levels is based on an understanding of CFA Level I. If you did your degree in accounting or finance or business it’s quite likely you covered a large chunk of CFA Level I.
Valuation - In CFA Level II you cover the same 10 topics as in CFA Level I but you also progress to get a much deeper grasp of Valuation of multiple asset classes such as Equity and Fixed income. At the same time you sharpen your grasp of advanced financial tools such as Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting and Analysis. CFA Level II is broad and deep and is probably the most technical of all the three levels.
Application - It is in CFA Level III that you get the best exposure to reality. The focus of CFA Level III is mostly portfolio management (approx. 55% of the exam) across various asset classes and a wide range of client types including Individuals and most varieties of institutional clients such as Banks, Insurance Companies and Pension Funds. CFA Level III is extremely focused on Application.
The vast CFA exam curriculum presents an excellent opportunity to master the art and science of asset management and investment research. The sheer breadth and depth of the course is intellectually stimulating. And a candidate walks away with so much knowledge that is invaluable in navigating the complex world of finance and investments. The CFA body of knowledge and the curriculum are evolving documents; every year CFA Institute gets the views of thousands of investment professionals and revisits the curriculum. Crucially, the CFA program gives you the big picture and looks at the investment world in its entirety.
There are approximately 140 societies worldwide. Many are fairly active and organize workshops, social events and conferences for their members. With so many Societies worldwide a Member gets the chance to meet CFA charterholders, other candidates and also meet world class speakers who happen to be experts in their chosen fields. These events are powerful platforms for building your professional network, something absolutely essential in the job market
The CFA charter is almost like a default qualification in asset management and investment research. Earning the CFA charter shows mastery of the skills essential in investment analysis and decision making in today’s fast-changing global financial industry. Which explains why employers are increasingly seeking out CFA charterholders - often making the charter a criteria for employment. The CFA charter not just gives you an edge in landing that lucrative job but also in excelling at your role. In short, the CFA designation takes you where you want to go!
CFA is the most respected investment credential in the world. The three letters after your name means a lot. It says you have arrived. It says that you are smart and determined enough to have ploughed through probably the toughest investment exam globally. And it instantly admits you into a select circle of finance professionals, people who share the same passion to learn and respect for ethical practices, people who deliberately underwent the grueling training with the ambition of carving out a rewarding career in Finance. CFA stands out- there are thousands of average to mediocre finance degrees globally, but there is only one CFA .
Exams are held in June (CFA Level I, II and III) and December (CFA Level I only). The CFA exam is normally held on the first Saturday of June and December.
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