Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals to make investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other types of investments by making a professional analysis of company financial statements, commodity prices, sales figures, costs, expenses, and tax rates to determine a company's value and project future earnings.
The CFA exam is three-tiered. The three examinations toward acquiring CFA certification are:
- Level I: Investment applications
- Level II: Application of investment applications
- Level III: Using different applications for defining investment strategy and performing portfolio management
The subjects covered include ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, and portfolio management and wealth planning. The program leading to the certification is self–study.
The CFA Institute estimates an average of four years, including a minimum of 250 study hours spread over six months, before each exam to obtain the CFA designation.
Apart from passing the examinations, a CFA Charterholder needs a bachelor's degree or equivalent, as assessed by the CFA institute, and 48 months of qualified, professional work experience. He also needs to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards governing his professional conduct.
An MBA was the basic requirement for investment sector jobs. The advent of the CFA has changed this, and most companies that make or manage investments now require a CFA for senior positions; some companies insist on both CFA and MBA.
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