Everything You Need to Know About CFA

CFA or Chartered Financial Analyst is a professional designation for those who want to enter the investment field. Due to its broad scope of fantastic jobs, it has risen in popularity. 

Most finance professionals are eager to jump into this program. However, this postgraduate certificate is considered one of the most gruelling professional designations because it requires 900+ hours of self-study and several years of professional experience. 

This designation is recognized worldwide, and it is often favoured in finance and investment fields. It is known as the “Gold Standard of Financial Certification”, which tells you how much respect this title carries. If you fulfil all the requirements of the CFA program, it becomes a professional designation that you can use after your name. 

If you don’t want to go into investment or management after completing, there are many paths you can take. CFA holders work in several sectors, such as trader, financial analyst, business professor, financial advisor, and more.  

This professional program covers a broad spectrum from finance, management, economics, ethics etc. There are three exams or levels, and to move onto the next level, you must pass the previous one. 

Since the pandemic of 2020, the exam method has moved from paper-based sit-down exams to a computer-based test. In 2021, there are six different exam slots for level 1 and three slots for levels 2 and 3 respectively. You can take the exam in February, March, May, July, August, and November for level one. But in 2022, there will be only four windows for level 1 as March and July slots will be closed. 

Once you pass the level 1 exams, you can register for level 2, and you can take this exam during May, August, or November. For the last exam, level 3, you need to pass level 2 and choose a window among May, September, or November. 

The exam slots for these two levels will change in 2022 as well. They will be available only twice. Level 2 exams will be held in February and August, and level 3 exams in May and November. The registration fee is relatively high as each level costs $1,000, but an early bird registration chance costs only $700 each. Study tools are included in the fees. There is also a one-time enrollment fee of $450 when you register for the level 1 exam. There is also a fee of $25 if you want to reschedule; so book your calendar long before the exam. 

Moreover, you need to self-study for each level. Depending on the quality of the candidate, every exam may require at least 300 hours of studying, meaning 900 hours in total. It covers ten topics. On top of that, to earn a CFA, you need to have 4000+ hours of professional experience in finance-related fields. People who only pass the exam without necessary work experience won’t be awarded this certification. 

According to the CFA Institute, this certification is formally recognized in 40 countries. Not only that but having a CFA can waiver you from certain requirements, such as MBA programs’ requirements for GRE or GMAT. Based on the curriculum and global recognition, the CFA is equivalent to: 

Country/Region Degree Level 
Australia RG 146 Gap Training program needs to be completed for financial jobs
South Africa National Certificate in Financial Markets and Instruments
United KingdomQualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) Master’s Level 7

If you want to have a CFA, you can consider the following paths as potential careers.

Career Choices 

Portfolio Management

Almost half of CFA students plan on joining the portfolio management sector once they finish. A portfolio manager oversees investments for long-term goals and risks. 

Active management means buying and selling stocks strategically to stay on top of the market. Passive management requires matching the returns of the market, which is done through copying index makeups.  

Investment Banking 

An investment banker works as a mediator between the investor and the corporation. In simpler terms, they are financial advisors to corporations or businesses or sometimes even the government. 

They help these institutions to expand their monetary value and manage their initial public offering (IPO). They also work in mergers and bond offerings.  

Private Equity 

Almost one-third of CFA candidates have expressed the desire to work in the private equity field. Many corporate personnel make this switch after finishing their CFA. 

Private equity deals with funds and investments of private companies. They buy out public companies, which result in that public equity being ‘delisted’. Moreover, they can use the fund for acquisition or investment in technology.

Buy-side Research 

A buy-side analyst works for hedge funds, mutual funds, or pension funds. Their primary duty is to do financial research and present investment advice to money managers. 

They need to calculate the future of an investment and how well it can affect a firm. A crucial part of their job is to determine the negative of investment and work from there. 

Corporate Finance 

Undoubtedly, corporate finance is the goal of many business majors. It offers fantastic benefits, and CFA holders have a shining future in this career path. 

Corporate finance deals with investments, capital structuring, and funding of a corporation. Their main goal is to maximize shareholder value, and it is done through short-term and long-term planning and application. 

Where Can You Study CFA In Bangladesh

While having a CFA opens up many doors for you, it is a difficult designation to achieve. The pass rates of these exams are pretty low as more than 250,000 people register every year, but only half pass each level approximately. 

It takes four years on average for many to pass all the exams. Level 1 is the only one with direct questions, while levels 2 and 3 are much more complex as there are case studies and open-ended questions. In level 2, the questions are MCQs based on cases. 

In level 3, there are two sessions: 

  1. The first one comprises of vignettes followed by questions requiring written response. There are MCQs in this section as well. 
  2. The second session has 44 MCQs in item sets. The item sets have a case on which the questions are based. 

While CFA requires self-study, you can’t pass the levels without proper guidance and tutoring.

Professional Finance Studies (PFS) offers three different courses for the three levels. If you feel that your basic finance knowledge is lacking, you can take the CFA institute investment foundation certificate course covering the primary expertise. With the proper guidance, passing the CFA will become achievable. 

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