If you wish to seek an edge in the world of finance, you can increasingly consider this credential: the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification. This designation is consider a high standard in the investment management field and to those who do have the credentials are expected to have good knowledge of the investment industry.
It’s not an easy feat to obtain these qualifications – the self-study program takes a few years to complete and candidates should pass three exams, and abide a strict code of ethics and conduct.
There are steps you can do to become a CFA, as well as knowing the necessary steps to plan, study and pass the CFA exam on the first attempt. However, this will not show you how to enter the CFA program, rather it will be on why you want to and whether it’s worth it or not for you.
- Identify the benefits of the CFA program. When you enter the CFA program, you will need to be a member and pay annual fees. Ask these questions to yourself:
– What would I gain as a member?
– Would the CFA title help my personal and professional growth?
-Aside from gaining a ticket to the CFA exam, would it help me to network and develop my skills a a financial professional?
- Compare CFA designation with other qualifications. You will need to spend time researching on other relevant qualifications as well, to see if the CFA is the one you should go for. There are several options available that are close enough in terms of the industry coverage and recognition but keep in mind that there isn’t one that is an exact match to the CFA.
- Fulfill the requirements. The bar is set quite low – meaning that anyone who either studied or worked for four years after high school can take the exam. In order to take the first level exam, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent such as 4 years investment or even non-investment related experience. Part-time jobs cannot be included.
- Sign up for the CFA study program. If you still want to push through and continue on, then go ahead and register, plan and study for the exam. Be mindful of the deadlines. Choose the best study material suited for you. It is important that you plan ahead so that you will not run out of time to study or miss out on the deadlines.
- Create a study plan. You will need to go over the format and curriculum to have an effective and a good study plan. Topics are organized into study sessions, with assigned readings, learning outcome statements and problem sets that are broken down into 3 levels. These three levels of exams will test the knowledge you have gained from the study sessions.
- Prepare for the exams. There are several comprehensive reading materials readily available for you. Most candidates do get supplements to improve on their studying techniques or even focus on their weak areas. You just have to find out your niche.
Once you pass Level lll, you will need to get four years experience before you can obtain the charter. The exams is just the beginning of the CFA process but you can gain the experience you need before, during or after the exams. Upon completion of Level lll and the four years relevant experience, you will then be invited to be a CFA charter holder. To maintain the charter holder status, you are required to get a Continuing professional education (CPE). The process may sound complicated but once you take the first step, it is very much achievable with enough perseverance.