What Should You Know Before Register for Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)


What is Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a globally-recognised professional designation offered to finance and investment professional, administered and awarded by American-based CFA Institute. This program provides the most reliable foundation in investment, analysis and real-world portfolio management skills along with the practical knowledge you need in the industry.

Candidates who qualify in CFA exams will be designated with the CFA credential. Candidates are required to pass all three levels of exams covering areas such as Ethics, Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Corporate finance, Portfolio management, Equity investments, Fixed income, Derivatives and Alternative Investments. This credential is mostly sought after by finance and investment professionals looking forward towards building a career in investment banking, financial management, financial analysis on stocks, derivatives and so on.

Entry Requirement

First of all, before you register as a CFA candidate, you need to fulfil specific requirements. The CFA Institute requires that every CFA Program candidate must have a valid international travel passport to register or sit for the exam. All of the candidates must be prepared to take an exam in English because CFA Program exams are only in English. CFA charter holders, regular members, affiliate members, and candidate in CFA Programs must complete a Professional Conduct Statement form to attest that they comply with their requirement.

Besides, the candidate also must have either one of these:-

a) Have a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree, OR

If you are not sure that your program is compatible with the CFA program, you can have enquiries from your college or university.

b) Be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree program, OR

If you are a student in final year program of your degree, you can also register for the Level 1 Exam, but you must complete your degree program before registering for CFA level II.

c) Professional Experiences

If you have a combination of professional work experience and education with a total of at least four years, you are also eligible to register for CFA Programs.

Practical Work Experience

CFA candidate must take note that they must have a minimum of four years which equivalent to 48 months of experience in evaluating or applying financial, economic, and statistical data as a part of investment decision making the process, supervising people who conduct or teaching activities. Almost 50% of your time must be spent directly in the investment decision-making process or producing a work product. They must work full time before, during or after they have participated in the CFA Program.

Exam Structure

To acquire the Chartered Financial Analyst, each of the candidates required to complete three levels of the exam.

a) CFA Level I

Tier I exam consist of 240 multiple choice questions separate into two sessions which are morning and afternoon. Each session is covering 120 multiple choice question with a duration of 3 hours per session.

b) CFA Level II

For the Level 2 exam, there are 18 sets of six multiple-choice questions, 3 sets with four multiple-choice questions, a total of 21 sets. It is also broke into two sessions, morning and afternoon, covering 60 sets of multiple choice question with a duration of 3 hours per session.

c) CFA Level III

For the morning session, it includes of constructed response (essay) which will be between 8 and 12 questions with several subparts. While for the afternoon session, there have ten sets of a subject with a total of 6 questions each part.

Percentages in CFA Exam Topic Area

Topic Area

Level I (%)

Level II (%)

Level III (%)

Ethical & Professional Standards

15

10 – 15

10 – 15


Quantitative Methods

10

5 – 10

0

Economics

10

5 – 10

5 – 10

Financial Reporting & Analysis

15

10 – 15

0

Corporate Finance

10

5 – 10

0

Portfolio Management

6

5 – 15

35 – 40

Equity Investment

11

10 – 15

10 – 15

Fixed Income

11

10 – 20

15 – 20

Derivatives

6

5 – 10

5 – 10

Alternative Investment

6

5 – 10

5 – 10

Total

100 %

100 %

100 %

 

Based on the illustration above, we can say that for CFA Level I, the Ethical & Professional Standards and Financial Reporting & Analysis consist of the highest marks compared to other subjects. While for CFA Level II, Ethical & Professional Standards, Financial Reporting & Analysis, Portfolio Management, Equity Investment, and Fixed Income may be the highest marks among other subjects. While for CFA Level III, the portfolio management may consist of the most top scores among the different topic.

Passing Rate

Based on the information from CFA Institute’s website, the passing rate for three levels of the CFA exams is not high. In June 2018 exam, the passing rate for Level I is 43%, Level II is 45%, and Level III is 56%. While for December 2018 exam the Level 1 passing rate is 45%.

Passing the CFA Program, one must have a solid discipline and an extensive amount of studying. They need to arrange their time very carefully because each exam typically required you to put hard work for more than 300 hours. With the given of the considerable amount of time that must spend on study, many candidates deterred from continuing the CFA Program after failing the first levels.

Each candidate who sits for the CFA Program exam will be provided with exam results and detailed information on their performance. After candidates receive their results, they can start to register for the next exam. Candidates who did not pass the exam can re-take the exam at a later date. They can take as much time as they need before registering for the next exam. To pass a CFA Exam, candidates must score a minimum score of 70% for each of the subjects.

Exam Fees

  Early Registration Standard Registration Late Registration
Program Enrolment (New Candidate Only)

USD 450

June 2019 Exam

Ended Sep 2018

Ended Feb 2019

Ended Mar 2019

December 2019 Exam

Ended Mar 2019

Ended Aug 2019

Ended Sep 2019

Exam Registration
(All Candidates)

USD 650

USD 950

USD 1,380


* Program fees are subject to change.

For the one who is the first-time register for CFA exam, you are required to pay a one-time program enrolment fees which are about USD450 together with the exam fees of USD650. After you have done your CFA Level I, you need to register for CFA Level II; you only need to pay USD650 for Level II if you register the exam earlier. The earlier you register for, the cheaper the fees which you can refer to the table as above.

The program fees are subject to change. However, the exam fees are in US Dollar, when you want to make the payment, it will base on the current currency exchange rate in the market. The costs of the exam fees are including the e-book for you to study. For the hardcopy of the original textbook, you need to purchase when you are making payment for your exam fees.

Self- Studying / Tuition Centre

You can choose to self-study in the house or study in a tuition centre across the country. There are few tuition centres provide CFA courses such as Noesis Exed, Kasturi, TARUC, Sunway College, etc. Different tuition centre may charge a varying fee. Noesis Exed charges a registration fee of RM500 in one time off, course fees plus revision course fees is around RM6,500 per level. However, they offer a discount for a student or ex-student from TAURC, RMIT Monash University, Help University, UiTM, UTAR & Sunway University, etc. If you are choosing self-study and currently have a full-time job, you need to manage your time very well. Sometimes, when the exam is around the corner, you need to take leaves to study at home.

Conclusion

Based on my experience, the CFA exams are challenging, the exam questions are tricky, but if you spent your efforts to study, you might pass the exams by studying over 300 hours by utilising all the alternative prep materials, do a lot of practising questions as possible. Companies across the finance industry recognise the CFA Program. CFA candidates, who completed all of the exams, can advance their investment careers through the knowledge they gain and their access to an extensive and impressive network of CFA professionals.

Written by Stella Goh | 8th May 2019.

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Site last updated October 10, 2019 @ 1:39 am; This content last updated May 8, 2019 @ 10:10 am