What Is the CFA® Charter?
- Portfolio manager: Portfolio managers are in charge of a fund or group of funds, working with analysts, researchers, and clients to stay current on the markets.
- Research analyst: Research analysts review data and market movements to make future predictions.
- Risk manager: Risk managers help their company anticipate changes and avoid potential financial pitfalls.
- Financial advisor: Financial advisors typically help clients with investments, tax laws, and insurance product selection decisions.
What is a CFA Charterholder?
- Achieve the required work and/or educational experience. Before registering for Level I of the CFA exam, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree, be in your final year of a bachelor’s degree, or have 4,000 hours years of combined work experience and/or undergraduate education.
- Take the exams. Although passing even just Level I of the CFA exam is an impressive addition to your resume, you need to pass all three in order to become a CFA charterholder.
- Submit reference letters. Submit two to three professional reference letters (two if one is an active member of the local CFA society to which you’re applying, three if not).
- Have a valid international passport and live in a participating country.
- Complete your application to become a CFA charterholder. The CFA charterholder application requires that you have qualifying work experience in addition to your professional references.
What is the CFA Exam?
CFA Exam Topics
The Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) and core concepts on the CFA exams are built from the Candidate Body of Knowledge™, which is developed by CFA Institute. While the curriculum is updated every exam cycle, all three levels of the CFA exam focus on the same 10 topic areas. Exam weights vary by level and can change slightly from year-to-year. The following topic areas are covered:
- Quantitative Methods
- Financial Reporting and Analysis
- Corporate Issuers
- Equity Investments
- Fixed Income
- Alternative Investments
- Portfolio Management
What is the CFA Level I exam?
What is the CFA Level II exam?
What is the CFA Level III exam?
The CFA Level III exam is also a computer-based, 4.5-hour exam, but the format is significantly different from Levels I and II. You’ll begin Level III by answering 8–11 essay questions, the prompts for which will all be based on vignettes. Section 2 of the Level III exam consists of 44 vignette-based, multiple-choice questions. Learn more about the differences between Levels II and III of the CFA exam.
CFA Exam Pass Rates and Exam Results
Everyone who takes a CFA exam is provided with a “pass” or “did not pass” exam result and a summary of performance in each topic area. Level I and II results are released within 60 days of the exam date and Level III within 90 days.
The CFA exams are notorious for their difficulty. The latest exam pass rates for the CFA exam are:
- 44% for Level I (February 2021)
- 55% for Level II (December 2020)
- 56% for Level III (December 2020)
To pass, a candidate needs to meet the minimum passing score (MPS), which is never given and varies year-to-year. Candidates will receive an indicator of the score range for each topic area instead (<50%, 51–70%, >70%), along with their final result. Level III candidates are provided with only two topic area summaries: one reflecting the essay portion and one reflecting the item set portion.
Charter vs. Certification
Free eBook: Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA® Program Exam
Free eBook: CFA® Program Fundamentals, 2nd Edition
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