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How to Become a CFA?

How to become a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) is one of the frequently asked questions for students pursuing a career in commerce.

With CFA becoming a popular career option for commerce students in India, it is important to know how to pursue it. So, here’s everything you need to know about becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.

In this article, we discuss what a Chartered Financial Analyst does, followed by a step-by-step insight into the steps to becoming a CFA.

Let’s get started!

What does a Chartered Financial Analyst do?

As the name suggests, a Chartered Financial Analyst analyzes and manages the financial activities of their organizations and clients. They are responsible for various financial activities like researching and gathering data, financial predictions based on existing trends, preparing reports, etc.

Some careers that CFAs can pursue are:

  • Portfolio Management
  • Financial Consultant
  • Risk Management
  • Supply Chain Analysts
  • Insurance
  • Asset Management
  • Investment Banking

How to become a CFA?

Pursuing the CFA certification in India would take at least 1.5 years. Given that it is one of the most sought-after career options, the process to become one takes hard work and effort.

Here are a few steps to help you get an overview of the journey to becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Choose relevant subjects in school

CFA is a core commerce subject and being well-versed in the basics from an early age is a bonus.

Those planning on pursuing CFA must ensure successful completion of 10+2 with a specialization in commerce and should have studied subjects like accountancy, economics, mathematics, and social sciences preferably.

These subjects are preferred, not mandatory for pursuing CFA, making it a viable career option for those deciding to pursue CFA post the completion on the 12th.

Earn a bachelor’s degree

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To become a CFA, you must complete your 3-4 years-long undergraduate education and earn a bachelor’s degree.

While a background in Finance is not mandatory, it will help your chances of clearing the CFA exams as it requires a thorough knowledge of the commerce sector.

So, if you wish to pursue CFA in the big picture and are struggling to decide which course would be the best for your undergraduate specialization, here are some commerce courses for you to consider:

  • Bachelor of Commerce
  • Bachelor of Economics (BE)
  • Bachelor of Accounting and Finance (BAF)
  • Bachelor of Commerce in Banking and Insurance (BBI)
  • Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Market (BFM)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Note: You can also consider higher education with courses like M.Com or MBA. It will help you gain a deep insight into the finance sector and improve your chances of bagging high-salary jobs.

Check the eligibility criteria

Before planning to become a CFA, thoroughly research what the course offers and whether you would meet the eligibility criteria for the same.

So, here are some aspects to look out for before pursuing a CFA certification.

  • 50% in 10+2 from the recognized board
  • Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university with an aggregate score of 50%. (preferably in a relevant field of study)
  • 4+ years of work experience in a relevant field

Note: You can appear for the exams without experience, but the CFA Charter would be awarded only after the completion of work experience.

You can also take up the assessment test available on the CFA website’s home page to decide whether CFA is the right choice for you.

  • Open the CFA Institute’s website
  • Scroll down to the section “Thinking About Your Next Step?”
  • Fill in details like – First Name, Last Name, Phone Number, Email ID, and Country
  • Agree to terms and conditions
  • Click on “Start Assessment”

Apply for the CFA certification exam

Now that you have checked the eligibility to pursue CFA, the next step is the application process.

In India, you can apply on the CFA website. Here are the steps to register to the same:

  • Register on the CFA Institute’s website
    to create an account. You can do this using the option at the top right corner of the page or scroll through all the details and click “Enroll and Register” at the end of the page
  • Fill in your details, and then choose an examination center
  • Check out the Scholarship section in case you wish to apply for it
  • Pay the application fee and the one-time registration fee that varies on the time you decide to register. It can be anywhere between USD 900- USD 1200

Clear the three levels of CFA Exams

To become a CFA, you must clear the three rounds of CFA Exams scheduled through the 1.5-year certification.

As per a CFA Program Candidate survey held in June 2019 by CFA University.

Candidates spent an average of 323 hours preparing for the exams, with Level III candidates reporting the most time preparing.

The most commonly used study material was the CFA Institute curriculum (75%).

Some subjects covered in these examinations are:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Portfolio Management
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Alternative Investments
  • Economics
  • Derivatives
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Fixed Income
  • Corporate Finance
  • Equity Investments

You can check out the survey report mentioned earlier in this section to learn all about the experience of candidates whole have appeared and cleared the 3-level examination to become a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Is CFA a good career option?

Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA is a lucrative career option for commerce students looking to bag a high-paying salary.

They can find opportunities with banks, investment companies, MNCs, financial securities firms, etc.

CFAs are in high demand today, and the scope seems to have an upward trend, making it a good career option with significant growth in skills, money, and benefits.

Check out CFA jobs here

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