magnifying glass identifying how to become a CFA charterholder - Kaplan Schweser

Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Date: March 6, 2018

If you’re wondering how to become a CFA® charterholder, you’ve probably realized that it’s a great way to set yourself apart in the financial industry. Not only will your job prospects improve with the charter, but you’ll gain global recognition and real-world expertise that will help you better serve your clients for the rest of your career. The path to becoming a CFA charterholder is challenging, but it can open new doors to you in global finance.

Here are the four main steps you’ll need to follow to earn your charter.

Step 1: Pass the CFA® Exams

If you are considering the CFA charter, you have probably heard about the CFA exams you have to pass first. There are three exam levels (I, II, III) with unique topic and learning focuses. The topics include investment tools, asset valuation, and portfolio management. Each exam will test different learning focuses. The Level I exam focuses on knowledge and comprehension, while Level II is more application and analysis based. The Level III exam focuses on synthesizing information and making evaluations. Make no mistake: these exams are challenging. According to CFA Institute, candidates spend an average of 308 hours preparing for the exam for each level. It takes many candidates more than one attempt to pass each level. If you do not pass a level, you can take it again the following exam season.

Want to know more about how to become a CFA charterholder? Download this free Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA Exam eBook.

Step 2: Complete Education and Work Experience Requirements

There are a number of different ways to fulfill the education and work experience requirements to enroll in the CFA Program. If you are new to the industry, you need to have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or be in the final year of your bachelor’s degree program. If you have been working in the industry, and you have four years of relevant work experience or a combination of professional work and university experience that totals four years, you are also eligible to start the CFA Program.

Step 3: Become a CFA Institute Member

Before you receive your charter, you have to become a CFA Institute member. You can become a member while you are in the process of getting the charter or wait until the end. The application process has three phases, and it typically takes a few weeks to get approved. To apply, you need to have passed at least CFA Level I or the self-administered Standards of Practice Examination, a bachelor’s degree or equivalent education/work experience, 48 months of professional work experience in investment decision making, and three professional references. You are also strongly encouraged to join a local CFA Society to network with your peers and take advantage of local continuing education opportunities.

Step 4: Abide by the Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct are the ethical benchmarks for investment professionals around the world. As a CFA Program candidate or CFA Institute member, you are required to abide by the Code and Standards. The Code maintains that you must place the interests of your clients and the integrity of the profession above your own interests, and that you must act with respect and professional competence.

Ready to Learn More About How to Become a CFA® Charterholder?

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