A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a financial professional who has been credentialed by the CFA Institute after having completed a designated program and associated exams.  The program covers topics such as stocks, bonds, investment management, derivatives, and various other topics in the world of finance.

The process of becoming credentialed as a CFA generally takes about four years to complete in entirety. Completion of the program must occur alongside the fulfillment of other several other specific professional requirements outlined by the CFA Institute. The CFA Institute was formerly referred to as the Association of Investment Management and Research (AIMR).

What Is a CFA?

The formal name for the award that recognizes a CFA is “CFA charter.” A CFA may also be referred to a “CFA charterholder.” The areas of expertise that a CFA credential can be relevant to extend beyond just financial analysis. CFAs can also apply their credentials to practices such as stock/bond management and investment consultation. CFAs can contribute equally in the positions of specialized financial information consultation and generalist knowledge as well. In total, there are about 120,000 charter holders stationed throughout 35 countries.

The Credentialing Process

In order to become a CFA, at least 48 months of relevant work experience needs to be gained beforehand. A balanced ratio of education to work experience must be determined as satisfactory for the prospective CFA’s credentialing.

In addition to satisfying the work and education requirements, prospective CFAs must also complete individualized exams before their education and work experience can be credited towards their acceptance. Prospective CFAs also need to demonstrate mastery of the CFA program curriculum, and this will consist of three examinations that are each six hours in length.

Upon demonstrating that they have the right experience and education, as well as mastery of all curriculum elements surpassing their examinations, chartered financial analysts will also need to be members of the CFA Institute itself. Prospective CFA’s will have to submit an application to their local CFA member society as well.

Maintaining CFA Certification

Once they become credentialed, CFAs still need to satisfy the requirements in terms of code of ethics put forth by the institution. The ability that a CFA has to maintain their credentials depends on how consistently they can continue to operate with in the guidelines of conduct that the CFA Institute sets forth.

In order to participate in the CFA program, a prospective chartered financial analyst needs to either possess a university degree or be in the final year of their undergraduate program. In the event that they are able to pass on their first examination attempt, all potential candidates are allowed to take one exam over a period of three years.

The participation fee for the exam can be anywhere between $700-$1000, variable on a date-sensitive basis. In addition to the fee required simply to take the examination, new members will have to pay anywhere between $400 and $500 in order to be inducted. In the event that an applicant has already passed a prior examination, they may be given certain discounts that reflect the level of proficiency that they have already demonstrated.

Financial professionals with a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation earn a new degree of recognition in all practices related to financial management.

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