The CFA qualification

Awarded by the CFA Institute in USA, the CFA charter requires its candidates to master a rigorous curriculum that covers a broad range of investment-related subject areas. Perhaps this is the reason why the CFA has been established as the most widely accepted standard for measuring the competence and integrity of financial analysts. With the international recognition of the CFA by both employers and investors as the designation of professional excellence, it should come as no surprise that the key players in the investment industry are CFA holders! Therefore, obtaining the CFA qualification will not only give you the necessary skills to succeed in the investment industry, but will also give you a head start in the investment world. To be awarded the CFA designation, candidates must complete successfully the examinations set by the Institute and possess relevant work experience.

More specifically, candidates must:

  • Sequentially pass three examinations (Level I, II, III)
  • Have at least four years of acceptable professional work experience in areas that directly pertain to the investment decision process
  • Comply with the CFA Institute code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
  • Submit Reference Letters. In support of your membership application, you will need to provide 2-3 professional references. References will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character.



The CFA Program requires you to pass three levels of exams. The curriculum is organised into ten general topic areas that provide a framework for making investment decisions. Topics include ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed-income investments, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management and wealth planning.
Each Level examines the same topics but at a different degree of difficulty at each level. The topics covered are the following:
1. Ethical and Professional Standards
2. Quantitative Methods
3. Economics
4. Financial Reporting and Analysis
5. Corporate Finance
6. Equity Investments
7. Fixed Income
8. Derivatives
9. Alternative Investments
10. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
2021 is the first year for the CFA exam (all levels) to be delivered on computers. Level 1 exams will be held 4 times a year. Both level 2 and level 3 exams – 2 times a year.  To pass the CFA exam means to pass all the 3 levels. The lowest pass rate is for the level 1 exam and it’s been stuck around 43% for the last few years. The highest pass rate is for level 3 and it exceeds 50%.

1. All levels of the CFA exam move to computer-based testing (CBT) in proctored test centers worldwide. No more paper-based  exams!
2. New 2021 exam windows to choose from:

  • 4  sittings for level 1: February, May, August, or November,
  • 2 sittings for level 2: May or August,
  • 2  sittings for level 3: May or November.

3.  After registration, you'll need to self-schedule your CFA exam.
4.  CFA exam registration fees generally stay the same but the new rescheduling fee is introduced.
5.  Overall exam day experience changes, e.g. total testing time gets reduced to 4.5 hrs (2 x 135 minutes).