The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is considered to be the Gold Standard in the investment sector. Consider it as being the best thing you can pursue if your dream is to make it big in the banking and investment sector.
The Chartered Financial Analyst is a program that is offered by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute.It is a graduate level self-study program that requires students to appear for and pass three examinations (Levels I, II and III) in order to become a ’Charter holder‘.
There are two categories of Charter holders – Regular Charter holders and Associate Charter Holders. The former is provided to people who complete the program and have at least 48 months of recognized work experience (generally in the investment sector). The latter is provided to people who have passed the three levels of examinations but don’t have the required amount of work experience.
The Associate Charter holders have much of the same rights as the Regular Charter holders, but they don’t have voting rights in the CFA Societies. There is also a Code of Ethics and Standards and all Charter holders must adhere to it. The CFA program is recognized worldwide in all financial organizations and establishments as being one of the most sought-after and required qualifications in a candidate.
The CFA program has some basic requirements in the form that you can only register if you have at least a US-equivalent Bachelor’s degree or are in the final year of such a program or if you have four years of work experience in an investment related job profile. Also, you should be ready to take the exams in English and no other language.
The CFA program has, as already mentioned, three examinations. The three are called as Level I, Level II and Level III. The passing percentage in all the three levels is very low (the examinations are really difficult, with around 57 % overall being the highest pass percentage in all of Europe ever). The Level I examinations are administered in both December as well as June. The Level II examinations are held in June, and so are the Level III examinations.
The examinations are conducted at various test centers all over the world. The enrollment is such that you have to enroll only once, but for each examination, you have to pay separate examination registration fees.
These fees keep on increasing as the exam dates keep on coming nearer, ranging from $710 to $955. The one time enrollment fees are generally $400 or $480. With successful candidates having said that they devoted 300 hours rigorously for each level of examination, the general norm is that people enroll, and then take each level examination in one year.
The general time required to complete the entire Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is about 4 years (however this, in no way, should be taken as a generalization – this time varies widely for different people depending on their application and the amount of concentrated effort they are able to provide to the study materials).
The real good news is that there is no time limit for completing the CFA program. You can take as many years as you like to complete it and pass all the three levels of examinations, and you have to pay the enrollment fees only once!
The CFA program is not only recognized the world over, but its membership (or being a Charter holder) will open up unbelievably inaccessible doors (for others) to the members in the financial, banking and investment sector. It is considered a prestigious achievement and comes with an inherent assumption of authoritative knowledge and expertise in the field of finance, banking and investment. The program is highly regarded by almost all financial institutions in the world.