About CFA
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  • CFA Program
  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Level 3
CFA Program - Basics
  • The CFA Program is a professional certification offered by the CFA Institute.
  • It helps you build and enhance knowledge is the areas of Portfolio Management, Valuation and Corporate Finance.
  • The CFA charter is globally regarded as a designation of excellence in the investment community
  • More than 300 universities around the world have incorporated the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge into their own academic programs
  • CFA Institute has more than 123,000 Members in over 145 countries & over 210,000 exam registrations among aspiring charterholders were received in FY14.
  • Currently, there are 110096 Charterholders Worldwide out of which only 1090 Charterholders in India

How many candidates become CFA Charterholders every year?

Eligibility
  • Have a bachelor's (or equivalent) degree or be in the final year of your bachelor's degree program at the time of registration
  • OR have four years of professional work experience (does NOT have to be investment related)
  • OR have a combination of professional work and college experience that totals at least four years. Part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment.
  • Be sure you understand the Professional Conduct Statement and Candidate Responsibility Statement.
  • Be prepared to take the exams in English.
  • Have a valid international travel passport (required for exam registration and admission to the test center).
Requirements to become CFA Charter

To become a CFA Charterholder, you must:

  • Pass three rigorous six-hour exams.
  • Have at least four years of professional investment experience.
  • Become a regular member of CFA Institute
  • Commit to abiding by CFA Institute's Code of Professional Conduct.
About the Exam:
  • The CFA Exam has 3 levels of examination which take a minimum of 2.5 Years to clear.
  • Level 1 is conducted twice a year, in June & December
  • Level 2 & 3 are conducted only once a year in June
  • The exams are held on the first Saturday of June / December
Exam Format Type of Questions No. of Questions Duration of Exam
Level I Multiple Choice 240 Two Exams on same day of
3 hrs each
Level II Multiple Choice 120
Level III 1/2 Essay type & 1/2 multiple choice 10 + 60
Course of Study

The CFA® Programme is continuously updated by practitioners to ensure that what you learn remains relevant in today's finance industry. The main topic areas and exam weights are:

COURSE SUBJECTS (Weightage) Level I Level II Level III
Ethics 15% 10-15% 10%
Quantitative Techniques 12% 5-10% 0%
Economics 10% 5-10% 5-15%
Financial Reporting Analysis 20% 15-20% 0%
Corporate Finance 7% 5-10% 0%
Equity Investments 10% 15-25% 5-15%
Fixed Income 10% 10-20% 10-20%
Derivatives 5% 5-15% 5-15%
Alternative Investments 4% 5-10% 5-15%
Portfolio Management 7% 5-10% 40-55%
Key Deadlines
Payment deadlines (For June 2015 Exam) Program enrollment
(new candidates only)
Exam registration Total cost
24 September 2014 $450 
(One Time Charge)
$630 $1,080
18 February 2015 $825 $1,275
18 March 2015 $1210 $1,660
What kind of Jobs do CFA Charterholders do?

CFA charterholders have the inside track to many lucrative careers. According to figures from the CFA Institute, portfolio managers are the largest single group of CFA charterholders.

The CFA Charter will open up opportunities in the areas of Equity Research, Portfolio Management, Corporate Finance, Credit Analysis, Trading, Investment Banking, Investment Analysis, Wealth Management, Private Equity, and Valuation

Who pursues the CFA program?

The CFA designation is designed to be a benchmark for ethical standards and professionalism within the global financial community. Typical candidates include:

  • Candidates for the CFA Program include students entering the investment field, professionals increasing their expertise and marketability, and people making a career change into the investment profession from other disciplines. Source cfainstitute.org
  • Minimum Eligibility: Candidate must at least be in the final year of graduation to appear for the CFA L1 Exam
Is this course for me?
  • The demand for CFA candidates / charterholders is growing and there is a significant benefit in terms of career growth and compensation for those who obtain it.
  • The decision to commit to the rigorous study required cannot be taken lightly. The CFA Charter, although extremely difficult to obtain, provides tremendous benefits but only within certain industries and business sectors. The question of whether to commit to pursuing the designation requires a lot of introspection and a little bit of research. If you do decide to become a candidate, make sure your decision is based on a passion for investing and the material to be studied.
  • Simply stated, if your strengths and ambitions lie within the careers and industries that require the CFA designation, then it makes sense for you to commit to obtaining one. 

CFA Level I exam is the beginning of your CFA journey. It is therefore critical for you to understand examination format, study methodology and key CFA exam tips.

Overview

The curriculum at Level 1 does not assume any prior knowledge in Finance, and starts from the basics on all concepts. The learning curve however is reasonably steep and you need to cover a lot of material in a short span of time.

Level 1 focuses on basic tools and concepts that apply to investment valuation and management. It builds the fundamental concepts and starts from the basics on all concepts. The course is highly conceptual and fairly broad. If you have done your graduation in Commerce, Economics, Accounting or Finance it’s quite likely you have already covered a large chunk of CFA Level I course content.

Exam Format

You will be tested on a total of 240 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) over two exams of 3-hours each on the same day: Morning Exam (9:00AM to 12:00PM) and Afternoon Exam (2:00PM to 5:00PM).

Each exam will consist of 10 subjects and the number of questions will be as per the allocated weightage (listed below). The questions will be divided as per topics i.e. first 18 questions will be from Ethical & Professional Standards, and then 14 questions from Quantitative Techniques and so on.

COURSE SUBJECTS Exam Weigtage No. of Questions (Approx)
Ethics 15% 36
Quantitative Techniques 12% 29
Economics 10% 24
Financial Reporting Analysis 20% 48
Corporate Finance 7% 17
Equity Investments 10% 24
Fixed Income 10% 24
Derivatives 5% 12
Alternative Investments 4% 10
Portfolio Management 7% 17

There is no negative marking on the CFA Exam.

Pass Rates

Pass rates for CFA Level 1 has ranged between 35-40% approximately in the past 10 years. So it may be reasonable to assume, that if you are among the top 35% of the candidates appearing for the CFA L1 exam, you have an excellent chance of getting through.

Does my background matter?

If you do not have a relevant background, be prepared to put in the extra hours. Our training is structured to ensure students from all backgrounds are able to quickly learn the concepts and apply them in solving tricky questions on the exam. We provide special focus to students from non-finance backgrounds, while at the same time encourage students with any prior knowledge on the topics to actively participate in discussions in the class.

A typical Level 1 class at FinGuru has candidates from various backgrounds. Besides Chartered Accountants, MBA’s in Finance and other finance specialists, our Level 1 class has students from various non-finance backgrounds such as Arts, Engineering, Human Resource, Hospitality Management, Lawyers or even Doctors.

We ensure that through our classes, you get:

  • A solid foundation of all basic concepts covering the CFA L1 curriculum
  • Ample practice questions on testable areas
  • Personal Attention to ensure your queries are resolved at the earliest
  • And a vibrant and competitive classroom atmosphere to maintain regularity in studies and get motivated to excel in the exam
  • Extra support to students from a non-finance background
Preparation Strategy

There is no substitute to time. You have to devote at least 2-3 hours of each day for at least 4 months to have a good command over the content and feel confident of clearing the exam.

The best strategy is to start early and make a weekly study plan so as to read through the course at least once with minimum 1.5 months remaining for the exam. Besides reading up, test your understanding with sectional (topic-wise) tests. Keep a track of your performance on individual subjects and identify your weaker areas.

In the last 45 days shift your focus to mock tests, revision and reviewing the challenging sections. Increase the frequency of tests closer to the exam and work on your weaker areas. Stay focused and be ready to put in more hours during this period.

So if you are willing to put in the time, and are passionate about pursuing a career in Investment Finance (Corporate Finance, Portfolio Management and Investment Research), register now and learn from the experts.

CFA level II exam is a harder test (as compared to Level 1) of your dedication and perseverance. The content is broad and deep and is probably the most technical of all the three levels.

Overview

At this level, you are required to demonstrate advanced knowledge on same 10 subjects studied at Level 1. The content is far more in-depth with a greater focus on application particularly on asset valuation, capital markets and company analysis. So at Level II you get a much deeper grasp of Valuation of Equity and Fixed income and at the same time you sharpen your grasp of advanced financial tools such as Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting and Analysis.

Exam Format

The format is similar to the CFA L1 exam, with two exams on the same day, Morning Exam (9:00AM to 12:00PM) & Afternoon Exam (2:00PM to 5:00PM).

Each exam has 10 case studies, with each case study followed by 6 Multiple Choice Questions. So a total of 20 Case studies (120 Questions).

Topic weightages are not exact, which can create a challenge if you are underprepared on any one topic.

COURSE SUBJECTS (Weightage) Level II No. of Case Study No. of Questions
Ethics 10-15% 2-3 12-18
Quantitative Techniques 5-10% 1-2 6-12
Economics 5-10% 1-2 6-12
Financial Reporting Analysis 15-20% 3-4 18-24
Corporate Finance 5-10% 1-2 6-12
Equity Investments 15-25% 3-5 18-30
Fixed Income 10-20% 2-4 12-24
Derivatives 5-15% 1-3 6-18
Alternative Investments 5-10% 1-3 6-18
Portfolio Management 5-10% 1-3 6-18
Pass Rates

Level 2 has higher pass rates (approx 40-45%) as compared to Level 1.

Preparation Strategy

The competition however is tougher as you compete with a refined group of candidates who have already done well at Level 1.

You should start at least 4 months before the exam and be prepared to spend at least 3-4 hours each day. Make a weekly schedule so as to complete the course with at least 1.5 months remaining for revision and practice. Use the CFA Core books and practice all the questions provided.

Spend the last 45 days to practice attempting case studies, and revising the content. In the last few weeks, shift your focus to mock tests, revision and reviewing the challenging sections. Increase the frequency of tests closer to the exam and work on your weaker areas. Stay focused and be ready to put in more hours during this period.

The content at Level 2 is challenging so it’s ever more necessary that you study with CFA experts who have both training and industry experience! Our classes are unique as we prepare you on all 10 topics of CFA curriculum by teaching concepts and focusing on problem solving in class.
Our training for Level 2 is highly rigorous. And you can be sure to get:

  • Specialized faculty who have practical experience in the concepts being taught.
  • Complex concepts taught in a simple manner, so as to ensure you understand and memorize the key concepts
  • Focused training with the objective of getting you through the Level 2 exam
  • Completion of course well in time to give you ample time for revision
Plenty of practice material to get used to attempting case studies

If you have cleared the first 2 Levels of the CFA Exam, then let us first congratulate you. You have demonstrated great commitment and ability towards your goal to become a CFA Charterholder. You must continue the same effort and discipline for your preparation for the CFA Level 3 Exam.

How is Level 3 different from Level 1 & 2?

CFA Level 3 is a whole new ball game. The curriculum may not look as challenging and lengthy as the first 2 levels. However, that does not mean that Level 3 is anyway easier than the first 2 levels. It only means the preparation strategy used in the Level 1 and 2 is not going to work in Level 3.

At Levels 1 and 2, the material is tested much the way it is presented in the curriculum and memorization alone could get you through these levels. The Level 3 curriculum is not as heavy on the content (theories and formulas). It’s all about application of the concepts that you have learnt over the first 2 levels. You must learn each study session well enough so as to integrate your knowledge of it with that of the other study sessions. A single item set or essay question can incorporate concepts from several study sessions.

Exam Format?

Morning Session: 10 to 12 multi-part essay questions worth a total of 180 points. The weight of each essay question and each of the parts is denoted in minutes. For example, a question allocated 12 minutes would carry 12 points.

As the morning exam is an essay paper, it is possible to get some marks for correct method and incorrect final answer. Therefore, clearly show your calculations. Also, it is possible and sometimes even necessary that the answer from one question is used as an input for another.

Afternoon Session: Similar to the Level 2 exam, there are 10 cases followed with 6 multiple choice questions each. So a total of 60 questions from any of the topics.

What are the pass rates at Level 3?

Although the pass rates for Level 3 are higher than for Level 1 and 2, but the trend is similar, downwards. Especially post 2007, the pass rates for Level 3 have dropped significantly and now range around 45-50%.

Preparation Strategy

Time management is extremely critical in the morning Level 3 Exam. Candidates must attempt all questions in the time allocated and keep their answers to the point. Attempt the easy questions first and come back to tougher questions. Try not to leave anything blank. There is no negative marking for guessing.

The afternoon exam is similar to the Level 2 exam, and is usually manageable. But the difference, of course, is the possible combination of several study sessions in the same item set.

Remember, at Level 3 you sometimes have to use what you learn about one topic to answer a question about another topic.

How can FinGuru help in preparing for the L3 Exam?

We conduct rigorous classes for the CFA Level 3 on the weekends and help candidates prepare well for the exam. However, as the exam format of Level 3 is unlike the first 2 levels (esp the morning exam), the training methodology must also be accordingly suited.

For our Level 3 Classes:

  • All faculty besides being CFA Charterholders, have practical experience in Portfolio Management and thus are able to help connect the content with real world examples.
  • Take up real exam questions in the class and train students on writing well structured answers.
  • We encourage candidates in our classes to participate in active discussions and even try to explain the concepts to each other.
  • We help you learn how to manage time effectively, especially on the morning exam, by practicing to write answers within allocated time.
  • We spread out our classes over a long period (at least 4-5 months) so that you spend a long period to go through the topic and review it.
  • The classes are paced in a manner to allow you sufficient time for self study as well