CFA Exam Exemptions: A Big Perk You Should Know

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is an internationally accredited qualification in finance and investment. Candidates must clear three levels in the course, among which Level 1 is the most crucial.

A CFA-certified professional offers services like portfolio management and investment guidance to businesses, individuals and other organisations. With a CFA certification, professionals can make a successful career in investment banking, insurance, and so on

But did you know that pursuing the CFA programme can also grant you various waivers from other professional certifications and exams

Although these are not essentially CFA exam exemptions, the CFA Institute’s waiver programmes will let you waive some requirements of other financial credentialing services, products, or organisations. 

What are CFA Exam Exemptions?

Aspirants are often curious about CFA exam exemptions. But, there are no current exemptions on the CFA exams themselves. However, there are waivers from other professional certifications, regulatory bodies and global examinations only after you pass the CFA Level 1 examination. 

For instance, you can get CPE credits after completing US CPA or similar professional qualifications. But you must remember that regulations around these waivers and exemptions keep changing frequently, and you must keep yourself updated to get the most benefits.

Different CFA exemptions

As a budding Chartered Financial Analyst, you must know about the CFA programme and its waivers. 

The exam exemptions come under three main categories and are available in over 40 countries worldwide. Let us look at them:

1. Recognition from regulators

Completing a CFA programme is no small feat, and candidates enrolling for the programme are equally talented and skilled. Keeping the high standard of the CFA programme in mind, many regulators waive certain regulatory measures for such candidates. 

Following is a list of some regulators who offer waivers for the CFA programme:

  • Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA)
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
  • Investment Industry Regulatory Organisation of Canada (IIROC)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)

Here are some prominent CFA exam exemptions offered by global regulatory bodies:

  • Australia: Licensing Exam, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s chief regulator. To get this waiver, a candidate must pass CFA Level 1 exam in combination with the RG 146 Gap Training Programme for CFA candidates and charter holders. Passing both exams is added advantage. 
  • Canada: IIROC and CSA are the primary regulators, where the minimum CFA status is either a CFA charter holder or CFA Level 1.
    Candidates passing CFA Level 1 will not need to take Canadian Securities Course to become an investment professional. CFA charter holders meet proficiency requirements for Investment Fund Managers, Portfolio Managers and Mutual Fund Dealers.
    Check out our blog “Do Financial Analyst & Investment Banking Professions Need A CFA Degree?” to learn more about job prospects after CFA.
  • China: Asset Management Association of China (AMAC) requires a CFA charter holder as the minimum CFA status. In China, senior managers in hedge funds or private equity who are CFA charter holders don’t have to appear for Paper 2 of AMAC’s examination. 
  • The United States of America: The USA has four regulators. FINRA’s minimum CFA status requirement is passing CFA Level 2; NYSE’s is passing CFA Level 1, and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)’s and Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD)’s is being CFA charter holders.
    The waivers vary from one regulatory body to another
  • For FINRA, applicants who have cleared the CFA Level 2 exam are exempt from Part 1 (Series 86) of the Research Analyst Qualification Examination. 
  • The NYSE Supervisory Analysts Qualification Exam’s Part II is waived for NYSE.
  • For NASAA, CFA charter holders will not need to take the Series 65 exam to become investment advisers and representatives. 
  • For IARD, CFA charter holders might get exemptions from state competency examinations. 
  • United Kingdom: FCA is the regulator in the UK, where the minimum CFA status is passing Level 1, 2 or 3.
    Candidates get exempt from Investment Management Certificate (IMC) Unit 2 on passing CFA Level 1 or 2. CFA charter holders are exempted from IMC Unit 2, including candidates who advise private investors.

2. Professional Certification Programmes

Finance professionals can take up various certification programmes. Many of these certification programmes approve the CFA charter offering candidates attractive waivers for examinations, coursework, work experience and educational courses. 

Let’s look at some such programmes:

  • Investment Management Certification (IMC) examinations: Candidates are exempt from IMC Part II on passing CFA Level 1 or higher. 
  • Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) exams: CFA charter holders can skip CIAI Level 1 exams and reach the final CAIA Level 2 examination via Stackable Programme. 
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): There are no CFA Level 1 exemptions for ACCA. Instead, CFA charter holders are exempt from taking Paper F3 – Financial Accounting exam of ACCA, one of the five mandatory papers of ACCA. 

Learn more about “ACCA vs CFA: Which Should You Study?”

  • Professional Risk Manager (PRM) designation: CFA charter holders don’t need to appear for the PRM exam 1. 
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA): Candidates passing CFA Level 3 qualify for the Master’s gateway route, a quick entry program to CIMA.

3. Waivers from grad schools and university courses

Candidates can get a course waiver for a graduate degree in investment, banking, business school or financial services if they have some CFA programme achievement to their credit. 

For instance, you could be exempt from appearing in the GRE/GMAT entrance exams to get admission to a business school. Most leading universities in the USA have course waivers or GMAT/GRE entrance test waivers with CFA Level 1 or Level 2 completion. 

Globally, approximately 60 university programmes are eligible for CFA exam exemptions. Following are some of the universities offering such programmes:

  • London Business School
  • Duke University
  • The University of California, Los Angeles
  • John Hopkins University
  • The University of California, Berkeley
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • Texas A&M University
  • Boston University
  • University of London
  • EADA Business School, Spain
  • Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
  • Grenoble Ecole de Management, France
  • Queen’s University
  • China Europe International Business School
  • Cornell University 

Summing up

As someone aspiring to make a career in the finance and investment industry, having a CFA certification and other professional certifications is advantageous. You must also know of the various CFA exam exemptions and waivers from global regulatory bodies, universities, grad schools and professional certification programmes. These exemptions are a perk for saving time, money and hard work. 

Zell Education offers globally-recognised certifications in programmes like CFA, ACCA, and others for rewarding careers in finance and accounting. Study programmes from Zell Education stand out from the rest with personalised study plans, world-class faculty, student mentorship and other benefits. Visit Zell Education to learn more.

Are there any exemptions in CFA?

You can get waivers from various regulatory bodies, professional certifications and exams only after passing the CFA Level 1 examination. After passing Level 2 or becoming a CFA charter holder, there are many exemptions.

Is there any exemption for CFA Level 1?

Yes, there are many exemptions after passing CFA Level 1. Many global regulatory bodies waive certain requirements if a candidate clears the CFA Level 1 exam, which is also valid for some courses and entrance examinations in reputed universities worldwide.

Is there any exemption in CFA for ACCA?

Yes, CFA charter holders are exempt from taking Paper F3 of ACCA, which is the financial accounting exam and one of the five mandatory papers of ACCA.

Is CFA a Series 65 Waiver?

Yes, CFA is a Series 65 waiver. For North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), CFA charter holders can skip the Series 65 exam to become investment advisers and representatives.

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