What is a CFA course?
CFA is an acronym that means Chartered Financial Analyst. It came into existence back in 1947 when the Financial Analysts Federation (FAF) was established in the USA. It will be incorrect to consider CFA as a Postgraduation degree or any PhD course. Rather it is considered as a special certification course a student can pursue after completing their Bachelor’s. CFA is one of the most respected and recognized credentials in the whole world. It has always been the indisputable and ideal course in the investment industry. And since it is a globally accepted course, pursuing it becomes a crown to your MBA or any other UG or PG program.
To talk about it in detail, it is in general a short course. A student can complete CFA in a minimum of two and half years. But due to the level of difficulty associated with it, the majority of the candidates clear in a maximum of 4 years. The course consists of three levels of exams which every student has to clear. Only then, the CFA Institute (formerly the Association of Investment Management and Research, or AIMR) grant the CFA certificate. 20% of the students have only so far cleared these 3 levels of exam in their first try. The concept, the process of selecting and administering students is very different from the regular programs.
The fees for the course varies from country to country. Although, it is estimated that the average fee is around 2 lacs to 5 lacs. The student has to pay for the registration as well as the exam fee for every single attempt. It must be noted that there is no limit for the reattempts. Students can try as many times as they want for clearing the levels. The CFA holders also get a handsome remuneration in the investment world. The least any CFA can get is Rs.4,00,000 in India. Not to mention the figures are not the same in every country. This course opens more opportunities for the students. Business Consultant, Research Analyst, Financial Manager, Private Bankers are some of the designations that a CFA can work/apply for.
|Admission Criteria||Merit taken from the entrance exam|
|Course Level||Certification course|
|Fees of CFA||Rs.1,90,000 to Rs.5,00,000|
|Full-Form||Chartered Financial Analyst|
|Average Placement Package||Rs.4,00,000|
|Average Cut-off||There is no cut-off|
CFA, an American-based Institute, offers Chartered Financial Analyst Certification to students globally every year. They conduct three exams known as Level-I, Level-II, Level-III. A student has to invest about 300 hours in exam preparation. They can retake the exam as many times as they want until they succeed. However, the preparation time differs for every student based on their own skill and pace. Generally, the applicants are either engineers, KPOs, or Finance and B-School students. To get the fundamental idea of investments, markets, and stocks, CFA will be a good choice for the aspirants. In order to be eligible to write the entrance test, the candidate must satisfy the below criteria:
|College/ University Type||Average Fees|
|Private Universities||Rs.30,000 – Rs.70,000|
|Private Colleges||Rs.60,000 – Rs.1,50,000|
It is important to note that registering yourself for the course is not the only thing that should be focused on here. Of course, paying and enrolling are the first steps but other things should also be highlighted before anything. While the candidates provide all the necessary details during the enrolment, CFA Institute weighs their profile with the requirements they have set before. Whether to grant a scholarship or not is decided only after carefully scrutinizing the applicant’s profile. The scholarships are granted in December. And once the aspirant receives it, then they can continue applying for the exam. Their amount will be reduced automatically.
On the other hand, if the student is not eligible for the scholarship, then they can continue with the old process. First, they need to create an account at the official CFA Institute website. The one-time enrolment for the CFA course fee costs around USD 450. Another key point here is there are, specifically, two types of the registration process. One is called early registration which costs around USD 700, and another one is the standard registration. The latter cost around USD 1000. The dates for both are updated on the website. So, the students can check and apply accordingly.
After that, the students can register and pay for their Level 1 exam. Note that the fee thus paid is Non-Refundable. To elaborate, the fee can only be paid once, and it is not given back to the student under any circumstances. Once it is over, you technically enter into the Chartered Financial Analyst course. During this stage, you must not fail to submit your professional conduct certificate.
For CFA, the candidate himself/herself needs to schedule the exam date and center. The Institute shall provide a minimum of 2 separate months where the dates for the exam can be scheduled. The total number of days given in each month may or may not be the same. Henceforth, students must check them properly. They can select the place where they wish to give the CFA exam. Another important note here is they must check by entering the city’s name to get better results.
CFA is a globally accepted certification course. So, the CFA Institute administers the test globally at the same time. No matter if the candidate is giving an exam from India, Europe, China, or any other country there will be regulated on the same day at the same time.
If in any case, the applicant finds it difficult to attend the exam on the date they fixed before, then there is no need to panic. The Institute provides an option for rescheduling the dates. The deadline for them is also updated on their website. While changing the dates or center, the applicant has to additionally pay USD 25 for each re-appointment. Thereafter, the candidate is properly ready to start their journey in cracking all the three levels of the CFA exam.
For getting admission or registering, there is no special entrance exam for CFA specialization. One can directly register by sending an application to the Institute before the deadline. But to attempt the Level 2 of the CFA exam one must qualify in Level 1. Likewise, to reach Level 3 they must qualify both Level 1 and Level 2. In short, Level 2 is the entrance test for Level 3 while level 1 is an entrance exam for Level 2. There is at least a 6-months gap between each level. The results are announced after 60 days from the date of the exam.
The CFA exam in India is conducted in the following states/cities:
Due to the global pandemic that started in 2020, two new windows (months) were added to this year. These windows will be open for 10 days only. The Institute has decided to go for CBT type i.e. no more paper-based exams. Many other changes are made for this year’s CFA exam. Therefore, let us now clearly understand what are these Levels and why they are considered as one of the toughest tests to crack.
Each session has two groups. The topics covered in Session 1 are:
For Session 2 the areas covered from the overall CFA syllabus are:
Level of Difficulty: Highly Advanced
Exam Fee: USD 700 for early and USD 1000 for standard
Exam Syllabus: There are majorly four areas covered in Level 2 of the CFA exam. They are Investment tools, Wealth Planning, Portfolio Management, Ethical and Professional Standards.
Level of Difficulty: Highly Difficult (Student must at least focus more than 20 hours a day)
Exam Fee: USD 700 for early and USD 1000 for standard registration. There is no need to pay the enrolment fee again for the Level 2 exam.
Exam Syllabus: Wealth Planning, Portfolio Management
Level of Difficulty: Highly Difficult (Student must at least focus more than 20 hours a day)
Exam Fee: USD 1000 for standard and USD 700 for early registration. Again, there is no need to pay the enrolment fee for the Level 3 exam.
CFA subjects revolve mostly around 10 particular subjects throughout the three levels of the exam. The concepts involve a deep understanding of quantitative methods, private equities, and portfolio management. However, the degree of difficulty of each subject increase as the student progresses and enters into another level. The curriculum deals with the analysis of ethical and professional standards and provides a theoretical explanation about the security market, macroeconomy, and microeconomy.
Below are the important CFA course details, topics, or subjects that are discussed and learned in all three stages of the CFA exam:
|Alternative Investments||Financial Reporting and Analysis|
|Ethics and Regulation||Macroeconomy and Microeconomy|
|Equity Securities and Investments||Investment and Fixed Income|
|Quantitative Methods and its Concepts||International trade and Risk Management|
|Ethical and Professional Standards||Portfolio Management and Wealth Management|
It is a well-known fact that CFA is one of the toughest exams for a student to clear. According to the Wall Street analysis, only 20% of the students are able to qualify in the exam in their first attempt. The National Academic Recognition Information Centre UK (NARIC UK) has stated that the CFA course is on the same level as QCF Level 7 (Master’s degree). All this indicates that one needs to put extra effort and dedication in order to clear the exams. They must invest more than 18 hours of the day in the preparation of the three levels.
Also, everyone must remember that there is no exemption for anyone. And there is neither any shortcut nor any special status that an applicant can enjoy during the exam. So, the scholar who is taking up the exam should prepare themselves for all the unknown challenges they might have to face throughout the process.
Anyone who is not from the finance industry can also apply for the CFA program. But they must have the necessary zeal and passion to learn new things. Some common yet special skills a candidate must possess are explained below:
|Job Name||Average Pay (Per Annum)|
|Investment Banker||Rs. 8,00,000 to Rs.10,00,000|
|Private Managers||Rs.3,00,000 to Rs. 9,00,000|
|Market Research Analyst||Rs.3,00,000 to Rs.10,00,000|
|CFA||Rs.4,00,000 to Rs.15,00,000|
Generally, the job position and package depend on the candidates’ performance. The one who has cleared all three levels in one go will definitely receive huge rewards and pay scale when compared to the others. But in few companies, the pay range will be equally high for those who cleared the tests in their third or second attempt. It all depends on the candidate’s leadership skills, his/her knowledge of investment and stocks in real life. Not to mention, there is high scope for CFA holders in the countries like UAE, USA, and UK. Moreover, the CFA salary gets multiplied if the employee has 2-5 years of experience in the business.
The top recruiters that offer numerous and various positions for CFA holders are:
In India, we have a total of 18 Colleges or Universities that are affiliated with the CFA Institute. These Universities will get scholarships for their students to pursue CFA in India. They will include the syllabus along with their MBA or teach it separately. At the end of the training, the students have to appear for the CFA exam. Following are some of the Colleges that are affiliated with the CFA Institute. Their NIRF rankings are also as follows:
|College Name||NIRF Ranking|
|Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad||1|
|International Management Institute – New Delhi||28|
|Indian Institute of Management – Kashipur||33|
|SCMHRD (Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development)||19|
|Ta Pai Management Institute Manipal||21|
In general, many coaching centres focus on providing CFA programs to the aspirants. But there are a few Universities that have included the Chartered Financial Analyst course in its academic curriculum as a certification course. Since the CFA has high relevance everywhere around the world, many other Universities are taking a step forward to join hands with CFA Institute. Therefore, students can select the concerned University and start preparing for the program.
The numerical figures on the right side of the tabular form are the QS World ranking of the respective University:
|University Name||QS Ranking|
|Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore||1|
|Indian Institute of Management – Nagpur||401-450|
|University of Delhi||474|
Both CA and Chartered Financial Analyst programs come under the toughest exam in the world. But when we look at the passing rate of each exam, then both have a visible difference. And thus, it becomes evident that CA is a bit tougher than the Chartered Financial Analyst program. The pass percentage of CA is about 26% meanwhile the CFA percentage is around 44%. Also, CA requires more hard work to deal with the rigorous curriculum. Hence, it is clear that CFA is much easier than CA (Chartered Account).
CFA mainly focuses on the theoretical and analytical parts of the investment industry. It has subjects at a deeper and advanced level. It neither helps the student to become an ace in the market nor in the other field. Rather it may help you become an expert in the investment industry. Whereas MBA, overall, gives the basic idea of the different subjects. In MBA, the students will have an opportunity to get more exposure to many areas in the Accounts and Finance world. In a way, they both compliment each other.
But when it comes to the cost of the subject, CFA is less expensive than MBA. So, according to the budget the student can afford to put in, they can select either of the courses. Also, if we look at the jobs and salaries offered to CFA and MBA, then both give the student equal opportunities. The pay range depends on the experience as well as the performance of the candidate.
In conclusion, depending upon the needs of the aspirant, they can choose either CFA or MBA. They both have equal pros and cons.
CFA is a Universally accepted special certification course. CFA full form is Chartered Financial Analyst. Its Conducting Body is situated in the USA and it is called CFA Institute. It deals with the investment and financial world at a deeper level. There is no entrance test for enrolment. Another interesting fact here is that working individuals can also apply for the CFA program.
The study materials and textbooks are either in e-book format or in physical format. The Chartered Financial Analyst course details are readily available online. Many sources on the internet conduct mock tests and release sample papers for practice. Students can download them and can work on them. CFA Institute also releases many journals based on the subjects to provide a better understanding to their student. Here each reading has a certain number of learning outcomes that a student can check at any time. If the student is able to keep up with the real-life finance world with CFA knowledge, then they can get a job in a higher position at renowned organizations.
Investment is an art. A certificate in CFA won’t help the scholar to get a job in reputed companies. It is their skill and understanding of the subject that will help them secure a decent job with a high package. The minimum Chartered Financial Analyst salary for a CFA starts from Rs.4,00,000 per annum. Nevertheless, the pay scale is different for different countries and different designations. CFA Salary in India can go high up to as much as Rs.35,00,000 sometimes. Based on the following parameters the salary of a CFA depends:
The CFA salary and demand for CFA holders might be different in other countries. So, those who wish to work overseas can try their luck there also.