5 Vital Steps to Become a Chartered Financial Analyst

Become a Chartered Financial Analyst

There are a lot of good reasons for harboring an aspiration to qualify as a chartered financial analyst (CFA). From the respectability of this profession to the earning potential it represents, you’d be wise to consider this as a career option if you want to work in finance.

To make this dream a reality, you’ll need to complete the following steps, and of course have the passion and perseverance to see them through.

Meeting the educational requirements

First of all, you must bring a suitable level of education and experience to the table in order to qualify for the CFA program.

A bachelor’s degree is a base level requirement, and of course it will work in your favor if you studied a finance-related subject at university.

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You can also be in the last year of an ongoing degree program, so even if you’re still a student this is an option.

Work experience is also necessary, and you’ll need at least 3 years in a relevant professional role under your belt to get to the end of the CFA certification process.

Taking your Chartered Financial Analyst level 1 exam

At this point you might be wondering how many CFA exams there are? Well, there are 3 levels in total, and the level 1 exam is the first obstacle you’ll need to overcome once you’ve been approved for participation.

This exam consists of two sessions lasting three hours apiece, and covering 240 questions in total, meaning you don’t have much more than 90 seconds to answer them individually.

The level 1 exam is mostly focused on the ethics of being a financial analyst, as well as the professional standards to which you must adhere.

Studying rigorously and starting your preparations early will put you in the best possible position to pass this initial phase of accreditation.

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Taking your Chartered Financial Analyst level 2 exam

The next stage doesn’t delve into brand new concepts, but rather looks back at what was covered in level 1 and requires participants to analyze everything in much more detail.

This exam is actually slightly shorter, at four and a half hours in total. It also involves an average amount of study time of at least 300 hours, according to the CFA Institute.

If you fail any stage, it’s possible to retake it, but bear in mind that around 50 percent of people who pass level 3 also did so following success in the lower two levels on their first try.

Taking your Chartered Financial Analyst level 3 exam

Multiple choice questions are standard in the earlier levels, but this final tier of CFA exam brings in more in-depth essay questions where you’ll be expected to provide answers based on your response to specific finance-related scenarios that are laid out before you.

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You’ll be expected to wax lyrical on concepts and financial models such as asset allocation, risk management and much more besides, and it really does represent the pinnacle of what you’re expected to contribute on your road to certification.

Getting references from employers

The work experience you’ve completed and the exams you’ve passed will need to be supported by letters of reference which not only confirm that you’ve got the professional skills but also the right type of character to be a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Following the submission of these supporting documents, and the payment of fees required for CFA Institute membership, you’ll have your application reviewed, and an answer given within two to four weeks.

Wrapping up

There’s no doubt that to become a Chartered Financial Analyst you need to invest time, money and brainpower in equal measure. The rewards make this worthwhile, but don’t expect an easy ride.