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CFA

Think you could be a future investment supremo? Best find out more about the CFA then!

What’s the CFA?

The CFA qualification is recognised worldwide. It stands for Chartered Financial Analyst, and arms those who obtain it with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the investment industry. The CFA is provided by the CFA Institute – a global professional body for finance professionals in the investment industry.

If you’re interested an investment analysis, asset and portfolio management or wealth management, then you may well need to obtain a qualification like the CFA down the line.

What will it involve?

There are three different levels to the CFA. Not surprisingly, they get tougher and the things you study get more complex the further you go!

You’ll study in a method that works best for you – either with the help of some face-to-face seminars with a course provider or via distance learning – and develop analysis skills and knowledge of various investment tools and their uses.

Each level is examined with a rather ominous sounding six hour exam. Eek. But you can take the exams as many times as you need to, so all is not lost if you blow it on the first go!

If you want to obtained full chartered status with the CFA Institute then you’ll need to have at least four years of experience in an investment role along with passes in all three levels of the CFA, and you’ll have to meet other CFA Institute criteria too. You can find out more here!

It usually takes between two to five years to earn the CFA, but this varies a lot depending on individual circumstances.

What will it enable me to do?

The CFA could provide a foot in the door for a top position in the investment industry. You’re likely to see in a list of essential requirements for some posts!

How can I get the CFA?

You will have to be a graduate (or in your final year of study) or have at least four years of relevant professional work experience (sometimes a combination of four years’ work and study is accepted) to qualify for the CFA exams, so it unfortunately isn’t an option for school leavers.

 The prices for preparatory classes with a course provider can vary a lot depending on the method of learning, but vary between £1,300 to almost £1,800 for standard phases of classes for each level. But be aware that this isn’t like master’s tuition – this amount is only for classes that will add up to a week or two at most across the whole time you study for a level. It isn’t full-time tuition and study, so it is very expensive!

Registration and the exams themselves also have costs, so a CFA is not a cheap option. Weigh up your finances, time available to study and how worth it you feel the qualification will be in order to get to where you want to be in your career when you are making your decision.

By Jos Weale, Editor, All About Finance Careers