What is CFA? Course Details, Fees, Syllabus, Exemptions & Eligibility

What is CFA

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is the #1 finance course for Investment Management in the world! It is a globally recognized qualification offered by the CFA Institute based out of the USA.

CFA includes three levels of exams (Level 1, 2 & 3). Level 1 is conducted every June and December, and Levels 2 and 3 are conducted every June. The syllabus covers the entire world of investment management – from Equity to Derivatives to Portfolio Management. From 2021, the CFA exams would be conducted quarterly – every February, May, August, November for Level

CFA Syllabus

The CFA curriculum comprises of the following 10 topics, further split into their corresponding sub-topics as mentioned below:

Topic Sub-topic
Financial reporting analysis Financial reporting mechanics & Standards
Understanding income statements
Understanding balance sheet
Ethics Standards of professional conduct
Global Investment Performance standard
Quantitative analysis Time value of money
Discounted cash flow applications
Statistical concepts and market returns
Fixed income analysis Fixed income securities
Fixed income markets
Introduction to fixed income valuation
Equity Investment Market organization and structure
Security market indices
Market efficiency
Economics Demand & supply analysis
The Firm & market structures
Aggregate output, Prices, Economic growth
Corporate finance Capital budgeting
Cost of capital
Portfolio management and wealth planning Portfolio management
Basics of portfolio planning and construction
Derivatives Derivatives market and instruments
Basics of derivative pricing and valuation
Alternative investment Mutual funds
Real Estate


Exam Pattern

CFA Level 1 Exam

  • 2 exams of 3 hours each on same day, with a 2 hour break covering all 10 topics
  • Total of 240 MCQs (120 per exam) with subject wise bifurcations
  • No Negative Marking

CFA Level 2 Exam

  • CFA Level 2 of two 3-hour sessions consisting of 21 case-studies with 10 and 11 item-set questions in each respective session
  • There will be 120 questions –  18 case studies x 6 questions, and 3 case studies x 4 questions
  • The length of a case study is from 1 to 2 and a half pages. It can include tables and diagrams

CFA Level 3 Exam

  • CFA Level 3 consists of two 3-hour sessions. The first session can contain anywhere from 8-12 essay questions (with sub-parts) and the second session can contain 11 case-studies where 8 case-studies x 6 questions, and 3 case-studies x 4 questions.
  • An essay question has 2+ parts
  • The length of a case study is from 1 to 2 and a half pages. It can include tables and diagrams

Scope for CFA in India

CFA is one of the most recognised courses for finance in India, with jobs in profiles such as portfolio manager, research analyst,, risk manager, corporate financial analyst, investment banking analyst, etc.

Companies such as KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Motilal Oswal, Anand Rathi, etc all hire CFAs from Level 1 itself.

The pay packages are similar to that of CAs, ranging as a CFA salary from ₹4 to 8 lacs per annum. One common question we are asked is whether CFA Level 1 students get hired and paid? The answer is – yes, CFA Level 1 students do get hired and paid with packages ranging from ₹4 to 6 lacs per annum depending on the company and profile. A fully qualified CFA Level 3 would be paid higher in the range of ₹7 to 10 lacs per annum.

CFA Requirements

  • International Passport
  • Graduate from any discipline or in the final year of graduation or 4 years of work experience

You need to fulfill anyone of the following requirements

  1. Bachelor’s Degree 

Complete a bachelor’s program or equivalent program and have received a degree from the college/university. If you are not sure if your program is comparable, consult your college or university.

  1. Final-Year Student

Be a final-year student of a bachelor’s program or equivalent program on the date of enrolling for the Level I exam and becoming a candidate in CFA Program. Understand that you must complete your degree program prior to the date of registering for Level II.

  • Professional Work Experience

Have a combination of four years (or 48 months) of full-time work experience and/or college/university education on the date of registering for the Level I exam. The dates of education and professional work experience cannot be overlapping. Understand that part-time work does not qualify toward meeting the professional work experience requirement. Also understand that full-time work does not need to be investment related. Internships/articleships are accepted if they are paid and full-time. Work experience with your own business or your family business will qualify only if it is full-time, professional experience for which you are paid.

Please note that CFA Institute may request proof of education (copy of diploma, marksheet, any other relevant documents) and/or work experience (letter of employment, salary slips, any other relevant documents) to be submitted at any stage of your journey as a candidate or even after becoming a member in order to demonstrate entrance requirements were met. Failure to provide requested documentation relevant to entrance requirements may result in cancellation of a current exam registration, withholding of exam results, voiding of past exam results, and may lead to investigation and disciplinary action by the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program.

Source: https://www.cfainstitute.org/en/programs/cfa/charter

CFA Fees

Program Enrolment Fee: $450 (for first-time exam registrants only)

Early Registration Fee: $700

Standard Registration Fee: $1000

Late Registration Fee: $1450

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