CFA Finance (Chartered Financial Analyst): benefits and methods of acquisition

What is the purpose of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, sometimes called CFA Finance) certification, which is recognized in the world of finance and how can it be obtained? This article aims to answer these two questions.

First, what is CFA?

The title of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a diploma issued by a private American organization, the CFA Institute. First recognized only in North America, it became globally recognized in the years 1990-2000.

The CFA notably proves the excellence of its holders in financial analysis. It is divided into three levels, commonly referred to as CFA I, CFA II and CFA III. It is usually intended for students (for level I) and young professionals for levels II and III, who of course wish to pursue a career in the financial sector.

Also read: Modify and understand AMF, Bloomberg, VBA and CFA

Get the CFA certificate

Each year, there are two exams arranged for CFA I (in January and in June) and only one for CFA II and for CFA III (in June only). The tests take place on the same day in all cities where it is possible to take them around the world. The first two levels are MCQs only: for each question, candidates have a choice between three possible answers. As for the three levels, this includes MCQs but a ” try » with open questions.

This is not to say that the exam for the various levels of the CFA is exclusively in English: a good command of Shakespeare’s language is therefore essential.

To have a CFA title, you must meet the following four conditions: have validated three levels of CFA, justify at least four years of relevant professional experience, i.e. in the financial sector, commit to respecting the CFA code of ethics and finally pay an annual membership fee to the organization (the amount of which varies depending on the country).

How much does a CFA cost?

To take the exam, you will need to pay an amount that varies according to the date you finalized your registration. So, if you want to register for the June 2019 session, it will cost you $ 650 until October 17, 2018. Now it costs $ 950 to register from October 18 and until February 13, 2019, and costs at least $ 1380 in between of February 14 and March 13. Beginning March 14, registrations for this session will definitely close.

To these costs is usually added the cost of private organizations in preparing the CFA. For example, it takes several thousand euros for level I preparation of such structures. In addition, many business schools offer their students to prepare for level I of CFA to Master 1, such as Kedge Business School, which we interviewed on the subject.

Why take CFA Finance?

Firstly because it is a difficult exam (less than 50% success rate), which allows those who prepare for it (and pass it) to demonstrate a detailed and accurate knowledge and understanding of financial analysis. This is a guarantee of mastery and a prerequisite for many companies in the sector, a fortiori in Anglo-Saxon companies: most asset management companies in these countries only recruit certified level I employees. or higher.

Another advantage is its international recognition, which makes it easier for certified to find work abroad in the field of finance.

What are the opportunities after CFA?

As explained above, CFA is at the forefront of jobs in the financial sector. CFA holders then primarily work with management firms, banks and investment banks, brokerage firms, consulting firms, insurance companies or even pension funds.

Focus on the CFA I level

The CFA I level is the one that worries most of all students who want to have a solid asset to put on their CV – in addition to their schooling – before entering work life, as well. young professionals who want to improve their skills. or redirect their careers.

In fact, this is the level that registers the most applications per year and at which the failure rate is the highest (e.g., the success rate was 43% in 2016). To pass the exam, you must get a score higher than minimum passing score, which varies between 60 and 70% depending on the year, depending on the true difficulty of the exam and the overall performance of the candidates. The test takes place over one day, with two three -hour sessions (three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon). Results will be known approximately six weeks after the test date.

To put the odds on your side, it is advisable to prepare for this exam six months or even a year in advance. Remember that unsuccessful candidates are allowed to try their luck again from the next session!

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