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What is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Designation?

"Among the countless finance degrees around the world, the Chartered Financial Analyst qualification has become the gold standard.

- Financial Times Magazine, 8/13/2010


A CFA charter demonstrates knowledge and understanding of a wide range of topics at the core of finance, including macroeconomics, stock analysis, bond pricing, and option strategy, among others. 

 - Yahoo Finance, 5/30/2016


“The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification is roughly equivalent to a specialized postgraduate finance degree, including a mixture of economics, ethics, law, and accountancy. It is much liked by employers in financial services. Whereas there are tens of thousands of finance degrees available around the world, ranging from the excellent to the worthless, there is only one CFA, managed and examined by an American association of financial professionals, the CFA Institute."

- The Economist, 2/26/2005


The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a globally respected, graduate-level investment credential established in 1962 and awarded by The CFA Institute – the largest global association of investment professionals. There are currently more than 135,000 CFA charter-holders working in 145 countries.

To earn the CFA charter, candidates must:

  1. pass three sequential, six-hour examinations;
  2. have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience;
  3. join The CFA Institute as members; and
  4. commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm, their adherence to The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.


Global Recognition and Standard:

Passing the three CFA exams is a difficult feat that requires extensive study (successful candidates report an average of 300 hours of study per level). Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of advanced skills needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s quickly evolving global financial industry. As a result, employers and clients are increasingly seeking CFA charterholders – often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.

Additionally, regulatory bodies in a number of countries and territories recognize the CFA charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements, and more than 300 colleges and universities around the world have incorporated a majority of the CFA Program curriculum into their own finance courses.


Comprehensive and Current Knowledge:

The CFA Program curriculum provides a comprehensive framework of knowledge for investment decision making and is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills used every day in the investment profession.

The three levels of the CFA Program test proficiency with a wide range of fundamental and advanced investment topics, including:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

The CFA Program curriculum is updated every year by experts from around the world to ensure that candidates learn the most relevant and practical new tools, ideas, and investment and wealth management skills to reflect the dynamic and complex nature of the industry.

To learn more, visit The CFA Institute.

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