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How to become a CFA

Since you are wondering how to become a CFA charterholder, you are probably aware of the recognition and expertise that it provides in the financial services sector. Becoming a CFA charterholder is challenging, but it benefits you and your career in many ways. The designation enhances your finance knowledge extensively and offers prospects of entering attractive roles and positions in the global finance industry.
Here is a step by step guide on how to become a CFA charterholder:

  1. Enroll for the CFA Program
  2. Pass the 3 levels of CFA Exams
  3. Achieve Qualified Work Experience
  4. Submit Reference Letters
  5. Apply to become a Charterholder

Enrollment Requirements

To enroll in the CFA Program, a candidate must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Obtained a bachelor’s degree
  • Be in the final year of a bachelor’s program
  • Have a combination of four years of full-time work experience and/or college/university education on the date of registering for the Level I exam. Part-time work does not qualify, and full-time work does not need to be investment related.

Apart from the academic and professional requirements, candidates should also have an international travel passport, meet the professional conduct admission criteria, and live in a participating country. Candidates should be prepared to take the exams in English because it is the only language in which exams are conducted.

Pass CFA Exams

To become a CFA, a candidate needs to pass all three levels sequentially. CFA exams test core financial and technical knowledge on topics like Financial reporting analysis, Ethics, Quantitative analysis, Fixed income analysis, Equity Investment, Economics, Corporate Finance, Portfolio management and wealth planning, Derivatives, and Alternative Investments. 2021 onwards, Level l of the exam will be conducted four times per year whereas Level II and Level III will be conducted twice per year. whereas Level II and Level III are conducted once a year in June. On average, candidates report investing over 300 hours of study for successfully passing each level. While some professionals prepare for the exams while working, others plan for concentrated study. From 2021, all CFA exams will be conducted in computer-based mode.

Achieve Qualified Work Experience

To obtain the charter, a candidate is required to complete 48 months of relevant work experience before, during, or after taking the exams. Experience requirements for obtaining the charter are stricter than those for entering the program. Experience must be directly related to the investment decision-making process or a work product that informs or adds value to that process. You can fill a questionnaire that is available on the CFA Institute website that will help you assess whether you qualify with the work experience requirements of the institute.

Submit reference letters

After passing all three levels and acquiring the necessary work experience, one needs to submit reference letters in support of the membership application. References are supposed to comment on the professional character and work experience of the applicant. You to provide 2 professional references if one of them is from an active regular member of the local society to which you are applying and 3 references if none of them is an active regular member.

Apply to become a Charterholder

After meeting all the requirements mentioned above, a candidate can apply to become a charterholder. This requires a payment and some prerequisites for review by the CFA Institute. Regular membership applications may take up to 10 business days to be reviewed whereas affiliate membership applications may take up to 4 weeks.