First awarded in 1963, the CFA charter has become the designation of professional excellence within the global investment community. Around the world, employers and investors recognize the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity within the profession of investment management. Those who earn the right to use the CFA designation demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning that is essential to providing the high-quality service that today’s investment industry demands.
The CFA Program's self-study curriculum allows even the busiest investment professional to participate. The curriculum develops and reinforces a fundamental knowledge of investment principles. The three levels of examination verify a candidate’s ability to apply these principles across all areas of the investment decision-making process. And the program’s professional conduct requirements demand that both CFA candidates and charterholders answer to the highest standards of ethical responsibility.
Drawing on a broad-based Body of Knowledge™, the program is intended to supplement the education and work experience of investment professionals. Although the program is open to a wide range of investment specialists, the curriculum emphasizes the knowledge and skills needed to be involved in asset valuation or portfolio management. Prior to registering for the CFA Program, you should carefully examine the educational requirements to determine whether you meet the prerequisites to participate and will be able to attain the work experience required to earn the right to use the CFA designation.
The CFA Program is divided into three levels, each culminating in an examination. You may sit for only one examination each year, and you must pass each level sequentially, and fulfill other requirements of the program, before earning the right to use the CFA charter. In general, each level of the program requires 250 hours of preparation, although time varies from candidate to candidate based on familiarity with the material. Level I of the program focuses on the tools and concepts of investment valuation and portfolio management. The Level II and Level III examinations focus on asset valuation, portfolio management, and asset allocation respectively. Each level also contains material on ethics as it pertains to the practice of investment management. The Level I and Level II examinations has a multiple-choice format. The Level III examination is 50 percent essay and 50 percent item set (multiple-choice questions based on a common vignette).
Global acceptance of the CFA charter has led to tremendous growth in the program. The CFA Institute annual report notes that more than 130,000 candidates registered for exams during the fiscal year ended 2007, which were administered in approximately 130 nations and territories worldwide.