CFA® Charter: CFA Value

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The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation is widely considered a top choice for career advancement in the finance industry. It avails charterholders more lucrative career opportunities. Let’s explore some of the attributes that make the CFA charter such a distinct certification, starting with the requirements.

CFA Charter Requirements

There are two types of requirements to get your CFA Charter. There are the procedural requirements that the Institute lays out, which are defined and specific, but equally important are the personal/lifestyle requirements. For the next four-plus years, your life will change as you study for the exams. Your work life, family life, and personal life will all be affected, if not somewhat compromised, as you put forward the needed work to learn the materials. You have to keep in mind that this is a significant investment in your future, and these trade-offs will eventually become pay-offs as you jump ahead of the competition. 

We put together the infographic below that walks through what it takes to fulfill the procedural requirements to get these prestigious letters by your name.

How to Get Your CFA Charter


Pass All Three Exams

The CFA Program contains three levels of curriculum, each with its own exam. Passing all three levels of the exam is a requirement to obtain the CFA charter.


Achieve Qualified Work Experience

Complete four years of relevant work experience prior to earning your charter.


Apply to CFA Institute

To become a charterholder, apply to become a regular member of CFA institute. Once your application is approved and you have joined CFA institute, you will have earned the CFA Charter.


Submit Reference Letters

In support of your membership application, you will need to provide 2-3 professional references. References will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character.

CFA Charter: By the Numbers


Average timeframe to complete all three exam levels

$ 0 +
Cost of Testing

Estimated total cost of testing ranges from $2,500 to $8,500


Or two, if one is a charterholder and society member

$ 0

Annual membership runs 
from July 1st to June 30th

CFA Charter Versus Other Finance Certifications

The CFA® designation is the most highly sought after certification by finance professionals around the world. If you’re considering a career as a financial analyst, or are already working as one, having a professional finance certification can significantly increase your earning power, reputation, and ability to deliver high-quality financial analysis. Widely regarded as one of the top finance certifications, it consists of three levels, which cumulatively take about four years to complete. 

The primary focus of this finance certification is portfolio management and investment analysis. The main exam topics include ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial statement analysis, corporate issuers, portfolio management, equity, fixed income, derivatives, and alternative investments. The CFA charter is internationally recognized as one of the most challenging financial certifications. It boasts its distinctive reputation because the pass rate is notoriously low, and the amount of material covered is so vast.

To give you even more context, we put together the graphic below comparing the CFA with the CPA and other financial certifications.

Top Employers for CFA Charterholders

The CFA charter is the highest distinction in the investment management profession. As the highest distinction in the investment management profession, the prestigious credential unlocks many career opportunities, increasing the demand for charterholders’ services. The CFA charter is also recognized worldwide as the gold standard in the financial industry, so feel free to move about the globe looking for your best career opportunities.

Many global companies prioritize hiring and promoting CFA charterholders. For many employees, room for growth continues to rank atop the list of factors that keep them at a particular job. Employers who invest in their employees’ continuing education also enjoy many benefits, including a highly skilled workforce, retaining happy employees who feel supported, and identifying future leaders.

CFA charterholders offer employers more value. Whether your clients are hoping to invest in a new business or are planning for retirement, CFA charterholders have the depth of training to look beyond today’s headlines. CFA charterholders annually reaffirm their compliance with the CFA Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, so you can be sure your firm’s and clients’ interests come first.

Some of the top companies that hire CFA professionals are large financial institutions such as:

  1. JP Morgan Chase
  2. UBS
  3. RBC
  4. Bank of America ML
  5. HSBC
  6. Wells Fargo
  7. Morgan Stanley
  8. Citigroup
  9. BlackRock
  10. Goldman Sachs

Source: CFA Institute

Want to learn more about the CFA Charter?

CFA Institute does not endorse, promote, or warrant the accuracy or quality of the products or services offered by UWorld Finance. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.

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