The CFA designation is widely considered the investment profession’s most rigorous credentialing program and has been referred to as a “gold standard” by the Economist and Financial Times, and Business Insider refers to it as “Wall Street’s Hardest Exam” (source).
See this video to find out what your investment manager had to go through in order to earn it:
In addition, members of CFA Institute (including Chartered Financial Analyst ® [CFA®] charterholders) and candidates for the CFA designation must:
- Act with integrity, competence, diligence, respect, and in an ethical manner with the public, clients, prospective clients, employers, employees, colleagues in the investment profession, and other participants in the global capital markets.
- Place the integrity of the investment profession and the interests of clients above their own personal interests.
- Use reasonable care and exercise independent professional judgement when conducting investment analysis, making investment recommendations, taking investment actions, and engaging in other professional activities.
- Practice and encourage others to practice in a professional and ethical manner that will reflect credit on themselves and the profession.
- Promote the integrity and viability of the global capital markets for the ultimate benefit of society.
- Maintain and improve their professional competence and strive to maintain and improve the competence of other investment professionals.
For the complete Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, please visit http://www.cfainstitute.org/utility/application/ethics.aspx.
And for a Table of Contents type of look at the curriculum, known as the Candidate Body of Knowledge, here’s what Charterholders had to study (see below). Clearly, not all financial advisors are alike. Some took extraordinary steps to learn more about the investment field, passing three years of courses and 18 hours of exams to earn the CFA designation. Check out the historical pass rates here, which indicate that only 11% of candidates consecutively pass Level 1, 2, and 3 on the first try (42% pass Level 1, and of those, 46% pass Level 2, and of those, 58% pass Level 3 = 11%).
I. Ethical and Professional Standards
II. Quantitative Methods
IV. Financial Reporting and Analysis
V. Corporate Finance
VI. Equity Investments
VII. Fixed Income
IX. Alternative Investments
X. Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
*Note: The CBOK Topic Outline was updated July 2014.
(Posted September 8, 2014)