Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam Study Guide

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Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam Study Guide

The CFA Charter has become one of the most trusted and respected investment certifications in the world. The CFA program aims to enhance the global financial management profession and investment management. The CFA program is designed to impart knowledge related to professional careers. The CFA program emphasizes high ethical and professional standards. The CFA exam is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking for a qualification to enhance their finance career and establish financial credentials. Candidates will have to clear the CFA exams to get the CFA charter. The CFA charter will improve your earnings and give you a significant edge in your career.

1. How do I get a CFA certification?

The most common steps to become a chartered financial analyst are given below:

  • Enroll in the CFA program.
  • Pass the CFA exams.
  • Gain qualified work experience.
  • Submit reference letters.
  • Apply to become a charter holder.

2. How I can enroll in the CFA exam?

To become a CFA candidate, you must first enroll in the CFA program before registration in the first level exam. To enroll in the program, you need to meet one of the following requirements.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • In the final year of the bachelor’s degree program
  • Completed a combination of four years of full-time work experience and higher education

Candidates must also have an international travel passport, take exams in English, meet professional entry admission criteria, and reside in the participating country.

3. How can I pass the CFA exam?

The candidate has to pass all three levels of the CFA exam. The main subjects and topics covered in these exams include ethical and professional standards, economics, equity investment, fixed income, and portfolio management. Each exam focuses on a specific aspect of the investment:

Level I: Focuses on investment tools, knowledge testing of ethical and professional standards.

Level II: Focuses on asset valuation and your ability to test to apply standards to analysts’ situations.

Level III: Focuses on portfolio management, test your ability to apply standards regarding portfolio management and compliance.

Passing the CFA exams is a requirement to obtain a CFA charter. These exams require a significant investment of time, as they are not easy. While some professionals may study for exams while working in the field, others feel concentrated study is a more successful strategy. The CFA Institute estimates that the average candidate spends 322 hours preparing for each exam.

4. How many hours do I need to prepare for the exam effectively?

The average candidate spends 322 hours preparing for each exam.

Level I: 304 average hours

Level II: 329 hours

Level III: 334 hours

5. Is qualified work experience required for CFA?

To become a CFA charter holder, you will need to have 48 months of acceptable work experience that can be gained before, during, or after the exams. The CFA Institute considers satisfactory work experience to be a wide range of financial and investment expertise covering areas such as commercial, economic, and corporate finance. However, at least 50% of this work experience must include direct investment decision-making processes or product developments that impact this process.

6. What are reference letters in CFA?

Once you have passed the three exams and gained the necessary work experience, you will need to prepare reference letters for submission to the CFA Institute. These references should confirm your skills and professional character and explain why you should award a charter. References from supervisors or recent CFA charter holders will be more effective than others.

7. How can I apply to become a charter holder?

Once you meet all of the above requirements, you can apply to become a CFA Charter holder. For this, you need to submit payment and prerequisites for review. It can take up to 10 business days for the CFA Institute to process regular membership applications and four weeks for affiliate membership applications. Candidates will receive an email once their application is reviewed. Once you are approved, you are officially a CFA charter holder.

8. How long does it take to become a CFA?

The average time commitment is four years or more. It includes preparing for exams, gaining the necessary work experience, and applying for a charter.

9. How much does it cost to sit in the CFA exam?

The cost of registering for the exam will depend on when you register for the exam. The initial registration fee is $700, the standard registration fee is $1000, and the late registration fee is $1450. There is an additional one-time enrollment fee of $450 when you register for the Level I exam in addition to the exam enrollment fee. For more cost and registration fee updates you can check here:

10.What is the CFA exam format?

The level I computer-based exam consists of 180 multiple choice questions, divided into two 135 minute sessions. There is an optional break between sessions. Candidates should take both sessions to get the result of the examination.

11.Where are CFA exams offered?

CFA exams are offered in more than 170 different cities around the world. To find your nearest location, visit the CFA Institute website.

12.When are CFA exams offered?

Level I exams are offered twice a year, once in December and once in June. Level II and Level III exams are offered only once a year in June. For registration for test dates or exam dates, visit the CFA Institute’s website.

13.How do I prepare for CFA exams?

Instead of a formal education program, CFA exams are designed for self-study. Many organizations offer CFA test preparation and courses, both online and in person. After enrolling in the CFA exam, the CFA Institute will provide you with various free resources, such as online learning, personal study plans, flashcards, and practice questions.

14.What is the CFA pass rate?

CFA pass rates vary from year to year. Most recently, the pass rate was 41% for Level 1, 44% for Level II, and 56% for Level III. It is also important to note that less than 20% of the candidates will pass all three exams in the first three attempts. Candidates should not be discouraged if they have to take the exam more than once.

15.Should I become a CFA?

If you want to learn more about investment and portfolio management, you should consider becoming a CFA. People who wish to access more employment opportunities and higher earning potential can also consider a career as a CFA, as this position can help you outperform applicants without credentials.

16.What is the eligibility to register for the CFA exam?

You must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or be in your bachelor’s degree program in the final year. If you have 4,000 hours of relevant work experience or a combination of professional work and university experience totaling 4,000 hours, you are eligible to start the CFA program.

17.What is the average salary of a certified CFA?

According to the CFA Society, the average total compensation for charter holders is approximately $300,000. The median base salary for charter holders is roughly $180,000, with the balance split into cash bonuses and equity or profit-sharing.

18.How difficult is the CFA exam?

Overall, CFA exams are challenging, but candidates can increase the chances of passing by more than 300 hours of study, using alternative pre-materials, answering as many practice questions as possible, and creating as many practice study plans as possible.

19.How often can you fail the CFA?

If you do not get a passing score in the Investment Foundation exam, you can retake the exam after your official exam results. You have two attempts per registration. If you fail two attempts within your registration, you will have to re-register for the program.

20.Does CFA Level 1 expire?

CFA program exam results do not expire, and you do not need to register each year. You have no time limit to complete the CFA program.

21.What job can CFA get you?

Typically, CFA charter holders include Portfolio Management, Research, Consultation, Risk Analysis, Risk Management, Asset Management, Management of private wealth, Commercial Banking, Investment Banking.

22.Can CFA Level 1 get you a job?

Based on these numbers, if you have passed the first level, most of the job opportunities available to you are intern, accountant or assistant accounting manager, investment administrator, fund analyst, investment product analyst, and junior equity research analyst.

23.Is the CFA recognized in the industry?

The CFA charter is recognized by regulators, universities, and certification programs in at least 30 countries and territories. You will gain unparalleled career resources and relationships and access to jobs worldwide that require a CFA charter or candidacy.

24.Is CFA equal to Masters?

Since a Master in Finance is not a substitute for CFA, some professionals prefer to pursue both positions. If you consider a career in investment management and have substantial experience as an investment decision-maker, a CFA position can be advantageous for you.

25.Where can I register for the CFA exam?

You can register for the CFA exam at the official site of CFA here:

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