Latest CFA® Exam Curriculum Updates

By: Kaplan Schweser
January 31, 2022
Latest CFA exam curriculum updates

In order to stay up to date with current topics and challenges professionals in the investment management industry face, CFA Institute updates the material covered in the CFA exam annually.  The CFA curriculum for 2022 was updated from 2021, which is represented in the CFA Institute's learning outcome statements (LOS). 

Knowing what information has changed and if topic weights have been adjusted is important to understand because you don’t want your CFA prep materials to be outdated.  This is especially true if you’re wondering what to do after failing a previous year’s CFA exam.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

2022 CFA Curriculum and Weight Changes

All three levels of the CFA curriculum received updates in 2022. The most notable changes were:

  • Eight new readings were introduced and several other readings were changed substantially for Level I of the CFA Exam.
  • One new reading was introduced and the weight of Portfolio Management changed from 5–15% to 10–15% for Level II of the CFA Exam
  • Considerable changes were made to Fixed Income readings and the Ethical and Professional Standards topic moved to the end of the curriculum for Level III of the CFA Exam.
Below we will break down the CFA curriculum changes in detail for each level of the CFA Exam.

Level I CFA Curriculum and Weight Changes

The CFA Level I curriculum received major updates in 2022 but topic area weight ranges in 2022 did not change from 2021.  Below we break down CFA curriculum changes for Level I by each topic. 

Quantitative Methods

The Quantitative Methods topic area was rewritten substantially. Two readings were new for 2022: “Organizing, Visualizing, and Describing Data” and “Introduction to Linear Regression.” The readings “Probability Concepts,” “Common Probability Distributions,” “Sampling and Estimation,” and “Hypothesis Testing” underwent material revisions.

Economics

In the Economics topic area, the reading “Aggregate Output, Prices, and Economic Growth” was revised, replacing the IS-LM model for deriving the aggregate demand curve with an explanation of wealth, interest rate, and exchange rate effects. A new LOS concerning credit cycles was added to the reading “Understanding Business Cycles.”

Financial Statement Analysis

Financial Reporting and Analysis was renamed as the Financial Statement Analysis topic. The reading “Non-Current (Long-Term) Liabilities” was updated to reflect changes in accounting standards for leases.

Corporate Issuers

Corporate Finance was renamed as the Corporate Issuers topic. New readings “Uses of Capital,” “Sources of Capital,” and “Cost of Capital—Foundational Topics” replaced the old readings “Capital Budgeting,” “Working Capital Management,” and “Cost of Capital.” New reading “Capital Structure” added material to Level I that had previously been covered at Level II.

Fixed Income

The Fixed Income topic area was updated to reflect the phase-out of LIBOR as a reference rate. One new LOS was added to each of the readings “Introduction to Asset-Backed Securities” and “Understanding Fixed-Income Risk and Return.”

Alternative Investments

The single reading in the Alternative Investments topic area was rewritten virtually end-to-end, adding new material on investing methods, fee structures, and performance appraisal, and removing much of the old material about the valuation of alternative investments.

Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

In the Portfolio Management topic area, a new reading “The Behavioral Biases of Individuals” moved into Level I from Level III. The reading “Technical Analysis” was revised, adding material on approaches to asset allocation and removing old material on cycles, Elliott wave theory, and Fibonacci ratios.

Ethical and Professional Standards

In the Ethical and Professional Standards topic area, the reading “Introduction to the Global Investment Performance Standards” replaced two old readings and reflects the new 11th edition of GIPS. A new reading “Ethics Application” was added.

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Level II CFA Curriculum and Weight Changes

The CFA Level II curriculum received major updates in 2022 and topic area weight ranges have been adjusted in 2022.  Below we break down CFA curriculum, reading, and weight changes for the 2022 CFA Level II Exam. 

2022 Level II CFA Curriculum Changes Highlights

  • There are 47 readings (down from 48) in the Level II CFA curriculum.
  • Level II contains 441 Learning Outcome Statements (down from 456).
  • Portfolio Management exam topic weight changes from 5–15% to 10–15%.
  • Ethical and Professional Standards has been moved to the end of the curriculum rather than the beginning; it is now Study Session 17.
  • The “Financial Reporting and Analysis” topic is now called “Financial Statement Analysis”.
  • The “Corporate Finance” topic has been renamed “Corporate Issuers”.
  • Command words were changed throughout the curriculum. (Most “distinguish” becomes “contrast” or “compare”. Many “describe” become “discuss” or “explain”. etc.)
  • Brief references to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Considerations have been added throughout the curriculum.

2022 Level II CFA Reading Changes

There is an entirely new 2022 CFA Level II reading:

  • R41 – Backtesting and Simulation

Four CFA Level II readings were substantially rewritten for 2022, which are being treated as new:

  • R1 – Introduction to Linear Regression
  • R33 – Pricing and Valuation of Forward Commitments
  • R35 – Real Estate Investments
  • R36 – Private Equity Investments

Numerous readings within the CFA Level II curriculum contain material changes for 2022:

  • R7 – Economic Growth
  • R15 – Capital Structure
  • R18 – Mergers and Acquisitions
  • R19 – Capital Budgeting
  • R21 – Return Concepts
  • R23 – Discounted Dividend Valuation
  • R27 – Private Company Valuation
  • R28 – The Term Structure and Interest Rate Dynamics
  • R29 – The Arbitrage-Free Valuation Framework
  • R42 – Economics and Investment Markets

Two CFA Level II readings were deleted:

  • R9 – Excerpt from “Probabilistic Approaches: Scenario Analysis, Decision Trees and Simulations”
  • R40 – Publicly Traded Real Estate Securities

Level III CFA Curriculum and Weight Changes

The Level III CFA curriculum received major updates in 2022 but topic area weight ranges in 2022 did not change from 2021. Below we break down the major CFA curriculum changes for Level III of the CFA Exam.

Ethical and Professional Standards

The Ethical and Professional Standards topic moved to the end of the curriculum. Old reading Professionalism in Investment Management dropped from the curriculum. New case on Sovereign Investment Corp added to the reading Application of the Code and Standards: Level III. As part of ethics, the GIPS reading is substantially revised with the following items taken out: real estate, private equity, wrap fees, and separately managed accounts.

Behavioral Finance

In the Behavioral Finance topic, the reading The Behavioral Finance Perspective was dropped from the curriculum.

Fixed Income

All Fixed Income topic readings have some changes with new Learning Outcome Statements added, other LOS deleted, and revisions to the readings. Substantial changes are in the last 2 fixed income readings; Yield Curve Strategies and Fixed-Income Active Management: Credit Strategies.   

Private Wealth Management

In the Private Wealth Management topic, new reading Topics in Private Wealth Management replaced three readings that were dropped; Taxes in Private Wealth Management in a Global Context, Estate Planning in a Global Context, and Concentrated Single Asset Positions. 

Portfolio Management and Risk Management

There is a new reading Integrated Cases in Risk Management: Institutional, which is a case study that was added to the Study Session Cases in the Portfolio Management and Risk Management topic.

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What Is The CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge?

The CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), is a document that represents the core competencies used by investment professionals. The CFA Institute released the 2022 Candidate Body of Knowledge, which contains the latest survey results from investment professionals around the world about what should be included in the CFA 2022 Program curriculum.  

CFA Candidate Body of Knowledge Topic Areas

  1. Ethical and Professional Standards
  2. Quantitative Methods
  3. Economics
  4. Financial Statement Analysis
  5. Corporate Issuers
  6. Equity Investments
  7. Fixed Income
  8. Derivatives
  9. Alternative Investments
  10. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

What Is The Global Body Of Investment Knowledge?

The Global Body of Investment Knowledge® is an all-inclusive document about the knowledge needed for the investment profession. The concepts contained in the GBIK are for CFA charterholders to use as a source of inspiration for new concepts and lifelong learning opportunities throughout their careers.

The GBIK® is maintained by the CFA Education Advisory Committee, which is composed of individuals around the world from various backgrounds in the investment management industry.

Who Makes Changes To The CFA Curriculum?

The CFA Institute makes changes to the CFA curriculum through the practice analysis process and guidance from the CFA Institute Education Advisory Committee.

What Is The Practice Analysis Process?

The practice analysis process is a methodology for the CFA Institute to keep the CFA curriculum up to date with current skills and competencies for success in the investment management industry.  The Practice Analysis Process contains multiple stages from which the Candidate Body of Knowledge ultimately gets updated. 

CFA Exam Updates

There are no major changes to how the CFA Exam will be administered in 2022, except that there is one less exam window in 2022 vs 2021.

CFA Exam Dates »

How To Prepare For CFA Curriculum Changes

The most important way to prepare for curriculum changes is to keep your CFA prep materials up to date.  If you do decide to use previous years’ materials, try to avoid outdated topics and trends and focus on what will be present on the exam.

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