The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) Designation
One of the most respected and fastest growing professional credentials in the world and a globally recognized standard for measuring the competence and integrity of investment and financial professionals.
First awarded in 1963, the CFA charter has become known as the designation of professional excellence within the global investment community. Around the world, employers and investors recognize the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis.
The CFA Program’s self-study curriculum allows even the busiest investment professional to participate. The curriculum develops and reinforces a fundamental knowledge of investment principles. The three levels of examination verify a candidate’s ability to apply these principles across all areas of the investment decision-making process. And the program’s professional conduct requirements demand that both CFA candidates and charterholders adhere to the highest standards of ethical responsibility.
Drawing on a broad-based Body of Knowledge™, the CFA Program is intended to supplement the education and work experience of investment professionals. Although the program is open to a wide range of investment specialists, the curriculum emphasizes the knowledge and skills needed to be involved in asset valuation or portfolio management.
The CFA Program is comprised of three levels, each culminating in an examination. You must pass each level sequentially, and fulfill other requirements of the program, before earning the right to use the CFA designation. In general, each level of the program requires 250 hours of preparation, although time will vary from candidate to candidate based on familiarity with the material. The Level I examination is composed of multiple-choice questions, Level II is composed of item sets (multiple choice questions based on a common vignette), and Level III consists of essays and item sets.
The Level I curriculum and examination focus on tools and concepts that apply to investment valuation and portfolio management. Level I also includes an overview of the processes of asset valuation and portfolio management. Candidates are expected to display a working knowledge of:
- financial statement analysis,
- macro- and micro-economics,
- quantitative methods of investment analysis and management,
- financial markets and instruments, and corporate finance.
The Level I curriculum also emphasizes basic concepts regarding securities laws and regulations and the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
The Level II curriculum and examination focus on asset valuation. Candidates must apply the tools and concepts emphasized at Level I in analyzing and valuing investments and should have a thorough understanding of industry and company analysis. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to:
- analyze specific equity and fixed-income securities and other investments,
- estimate expected investment return and risk,
- compare alternative investment choices and make investment recommendations, and apply the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct in practical situations.
Global acceptance of the CFA charter has led to tremendous growth in the program over the past decade. More than 80,000 investment professionals from more than 140 nations enrolled for the 2006 examinations. The CFA Program is administered by the CFA Institute® (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research), 560 Ray C. Hunt Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22903-2981 USA.
The Level III curriculum and examination explore in greater depth the discipline of portfolio management. Candidates must demonstrate a working knowledge of the entire portfolio management process and must be capable of applying the concepts learned at Levels I and II to the portfolio management process. Candidates also must demonstrate a thorough understanding of:
- performance presentation standards and measurement techniques, and
- the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct from an organizational and compliance perspective.