CFA Chartered Financial Analyst Course

14 minute read
CFA Course

Do you want to pursue a career in Finance and its allied specialisations? Are you good with numbers and calculations and have a varied set of management and problem-solving skills? Rather than opting for the same old conventional fields, there is a varied range of specialised career domains in Finance that you can choose from. One such prospect is a CFA course which is increasingly becoming popular amongst those wanting to earn professional degrees in Finance. Amongst the toughest exams in the world, CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst which is an internationally recognised credential and is one of the most sought-after professions amongst the graduates of Finance and Investment. Through this blog, we aim to explore the key features of the CFA course along with highlighting the different exams you need to qualify for and the job opportunities you can avail.

Course Full Form Chartered Financial Analyst
Application Window Available all year
Exam Mode Online
Course Level Under Graduate
Stream Finance & Commerce
Exam Language English
Fees 50,000 – 1,50,000
Salary after CFA 4,00,000 – 25,00,000
Duration 1.5 to 4 years
Examination Levels 3

What is the CFA Course?

Offered by the CFA Institute, this course focuses on several facets of Finance and Management along with integrating the essential knowledge of the discipline of Investment. It works towards honing your analytical abilities and provides you with an understanding of how you can navigate ethical problems in the investment industry. Studying the CFA course, you will also gain valuable insights into the workings of the finance and investment sector and it will equip you with the right skills required in handling real-life problems and complex situations in this dynamic domain. This program is immensely beneficial for those aspiring for a career in banking or financial services. The course curriculum includes Equity Investment, Corporate Finance, Derivatives, Financial Reporting, and Analysis, etc. It prepares the aspirants to manage ethical investment management. The course includes different phrases and the duration is 1.5 – 4 years.

Why Pursue CFA Course?

CFA Course is one of the most lucrative careers in the world. Thousands of aspirants apply for the program making it extremely competitive and diverse. As a global certification, the course allows students to practice financial services and management across the globe. It is also a gateway to top profiles like Chartered Financial Analyst, Investment Manager, Portfolio Manager, etc. With the tremendous growth in financial literacy, stock market growth, and the flooding of the financial market with new-age investors, the demand is on a rise. According to IBEF India, India is expected to be the fourth largest private wealth market globally by 2028. Here are some more convincing arguments for pursuing a CFA course:

  • Global Recognized with a Vast Network: CFA is a globally recognised certificate and allows CFA professionals to work in 162+ markets, more than 178,000 active professionals and 25k firms that emply CFA professionals.
  • Get Hired by Top Accounting and Management Firms: There are thousands of firms and top companies that hire CFA professionals such as:
    • JP Morgan Chase
    • PWC
    • HSBC
    • Bank of America
    • Merrill Lynch
    • UBS
    • Ernst & Young
    • RBC
    • Citigroup
    • Morgan Stanley
    • Wells Fargo
  • CFA is Affordable: An MBA fees is ten times more than than of CFA. CFA costs INR 1,25,000- 40,000 while MBA can cost up to 30-40 Lakh depending upon the country and the level of specialisation.
  • Top Career Choices: CFA is the gateway to investment sector such as such as portfolio manager, risk manager, and research analyst.
  • Competitive Compensation: CFA professionals can start off with an average salary of 10 Lakh per annum or more.

Who should study CFA?

Candidates interested in the financial services and the investment sector should look into this field of study. CFA course is ideal for candidates who are entrepreneurs, investors, financial consultants, financial managers, etc.

When to study CFA?

CFA course requires 4 years to complete. There is no ideal time to pursue the course. Candidates have the flexibility to determine when they are ready to take up the program and understand the exam schedule posted on the official website.

CFA Required Skills

  • Excel Modeling Skills
  • Analytical Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Decision Making Skills
  • Time Management Skills
  • Math Skills
  • Foundational investment skills
  • Integrity
  • Discipline
  • Attention to Detail
  • Diligence
  • Self-motivation
  • An eye to detail
  • Communication skills

CFA 2023 Important Dates

CFA 2023 exam dates have been announced & here are all the dates level-wise.

CFA Level 1

Session Exam Window
February 14-20 February 2023
May 16-22 May 2023
August 22-28 August 2023
November 11-17 November 2023

CFA Level 2

Session Exam Window
May 23-27 May 2023
August 29 August – 2 September 2023
November 18-22 November 2023

CFA Level 3

Session Exam Window
February 21-23 February 2023
August 29 August- 5 September 2023

CFA Eligibility Criteria

In order to pursue the CFA course, there are some prerequisites specified by the CFA institute that you need to fulfill. These eligibility requirements are elaborated on below.

  • You must have a bachelor’s degree in a Finance related field as the institutes strives for candidates with the foundational knowledge of the Banking, Finance and Investment industry which is further polished through the CFA course.
  • You must have a proven work experience of at least four years in a Finance-related career profile.
  • Reference Letters: As over 150,000 people from more than 165 countries are registered charter holders, the competition for the CFA course is rigid. Hence to establish your credibility, you would need to submit reference letters from more than two reputed and established professionals working in your field.
  • Work experience of minimum 4000 hours along with reference letters is a must for CFA course.

Related Read: How to Pursue CA After Graduation

CFA Exam Details

The CFA course is bifurcated into three levels of exams which you need to clear in order to attain the professional credential. Every level of CFA tests the candidates on different aspects encompassing the disciplines of Finance and Investment. To help you understand the process of this course, we have detailed the three levels of CFA below:

Level I

The first level of the examination would test the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of financial investment and its various tools and techniques. Here is a table enlisting the key features for Level I of the CFA course:  

Structure of the Exam  240 Questions
Length of the Exam  Two Sessions: 
1. Morning Session- 120 questions in 3 hours
2. Afternoon Session- 120 questions in 3 hours
Format of the Questions  Multiple Choice 
Declaration of Result  Within 60 days of the examination 
Level Advancement  Once the candidate has fulfilled
the enrollment requirements for the next level  
Rate of Level completion   43%

Level II

This level of the CFA course examines a candidate’s knowledge about the applications of case studies in Finance and Investment as well as the essential aspects pertaining to facilitating asset valuation. Check out the exam pattern for this level described in the following table:

Structure of the Exam  120 (supported by 20-30 vignettes) 
Length of the Exam  Two Sessions:
1. Morning Session- 60 questions
supported by 10-15 vignettes in 3 hours
2. Afternoon Session- 60 questions supported
by 10-15 vignettes in 3 hours
Format of the Questions  Multiple Choice
Declaration of Result  Within 60 days of the examination 
Level Advancement  Passing of Level 1 of the examination 
Rate of Level Completion   45% 

Level III

As the levels go up, the CFA course demand candidates to demonstrate synthesis and evaluation in terms of portfolio management. Let’s take a look at what the final level of this exam entails which is detailed in the table below:

Structure of the Exam  A varied number of questions constructed
around 20-30 specific case studies
Length of the Exam  Two Sessions:
1. Morning Session- 8-15 case study-based and
response-based questions in 3 hours
2. Afternoon Session: 10-15 case study-based and
response-based questions in 3 hours
Format of the Questions  Vignette-based Multiple Choice Questions and
Constructed Response Questions 
Declaration of Result  Within 90 days of the examination 
Level Advancement  Passing of Level 2 of the examination 
Rate of Level Completion   56% 

CFA Registration Process

Level 1

  • Create an Account on the CFA Institute website, provide appropriate information and select the preferred exam centre.
  • After filling out the application form, eligible candidates can apply for any scholarship and submit the scholarship application in order to get a fee waiver.
  • Once the scholarship form is submitted and approved the candidate is exempted from the application fee while others may have to pay the exam fee through credit card, wire transfer, etc., and the amount depends upon the time of registration.
  • There are 3 registration fee deadlines, if candidates are registering for CFA Level 1 for the first time, then they are required to pay an additional one-time enrollment fee of USD 450.
  • Candidates must also submit the Professional Conduct Statement (disclosing relevant reprimands, litigations, Investigations etc.) upon the first CFA exam registration and then annually and before every next exam registration.

Level 2

  • All candidates who have qualified Level 1 are eligible to apply for Level 2. The application process is similar to the one mentioned above. After filling out the application form, candidates can apply for a scholarship and if they are not accepted then are required to pay for the exam fees.
  • After submitting the form and fees, candidates can appear for the exam at their designation centre.

Level 3

  • All candidates who have qualifed Level 2 are eligible to apply for Level 3. The application process is similar to the one mentioned above. After filling out the application form, candidates can apply for a scholarship and if they are not accepted then are required to pay for the exam fees.
  • After submitting the form and fees, candidates can appear for the exam at their designation centre.

CFA Course Syllabus

There are three levels of the CFA. Each level has mostly the same topics & carries different weightage. Here are the names of all courses & their weightage at different levels.

Topic Area Level I Level II Level III
Ethical and Professional Standards 15 10 to 15 10 to 15
Equity Investments 10 15 to 25 5 to 15
Quantitative Methods 12 5 to 10 N/A
Fixed Income 10 10 to 20 10 to 20
Economics 10 5 to 10 5 to 15
Derivatives 5 5 to 15 5 to 15
Financial Reporting and Analysis 20 15 to 20 N/A
Alternative Investments 4 5 to 10 5 to 15
Corporate Finance 7 5 to 15 N/A
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 7 5 to 10 40 to 55

CFA Subjects

The following are the core subjects for CFA.

  • Investment Industry: A Top-Down View
  • Ethics and Regulation
  • Investment Professionalism
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Economics of International Trade
  • Financial Statements
  • Quantitative Concepts
  • Debt Securities
  • Equity Securities
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Structure of the Investment Industry
  • Investment Vehicles
  • The Functioning of Financial Markets
  • Investors and Their Needs
  • Investment Management
  • Risk Management
  • Performance Evaluation
  • Investment Industry Documentation

CFA Quick Facts

Here are some fun facts about the CFA exam that you would be interested in:

  1. 1 in every 20 candidates misses the start of the CFA exam even when they are present at the test centre. 
  2. Calculators were not allowed till 1975. Thankfully, now they are. However, only 2 specific models of calculators can be carried.
  3. In the earlier days of the CFA examination, candidates were not allowed to use the washroom during the exam. This rule was changed when a pregnant candidate had to use the washroom urgently. 
  4. Over 1.6 lakh candidates from over the world appear for the CFA exam. The Asia Pacific has the highest number of candidates writing the CFA exam.

CFA Course Comparison


Category CFA CA
Job Profile Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA Chartered Chartered Accountant
Conducting Body CFA Institute ICAI
Details CFA is a program that is aimed to provide standard training and education in the field of financial and investment analysis. The exam can be qualified after the three Levels, i.e. Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3. CA is a certified qualification in the field of commerce and accountancy that can be obtained after qualifying many rounds, i.e. CA Foundation, CA Intermediate & CA Final.
Average Time to qualify 1.5-4 years 4-5 years
Global Recognition Yes No
Average CourseFees INR 1,25,000- 40,000 INR 50,000-INR 3,00,000
Average Salary Package INR 4,00,000- 20,00,000 INR 5,00,000- 20,00,000


Category CFA MBA
Duration 4 2- 3 years (Part-time – 6 years)
Offered by CFA Institute Universities Across the globe
Eligibility Students can apply for CFA Level I in the final year of graduation. However, level II requires a graduation degree Students need 50% in graduation from any stream and pass the entrance exam such as CAT, MAT, XAT, GMAT, etc.
Average Course Fees INR 1,25,000- 40,000 INR 30,00,000- 40,00,000
Salary (INR) 10,00,000 and more 7,00,000 – 60,00,000

CFA Entrance Exam

In order to become a Charter holder, one has to clear the three levels of CFA examinations. These examinations are conducted at various time intervals during the year. These exams can be taken during the following months during the year:

Month CFA Level I CFA Level II CFA Level III
February Yes Yes No
May Yes No Yes
August  Yes Yes Yes
November Yes Yes No

CFA Required Skill Set

The CFA Insitute states that there are no prerequisite skills or knowledge that are required for becoming a CFA Charter Holder. Students from different fields appear for the exam every year. This is because it allows a gateway into the financial sector for people who have always wanted to work in it. However, the following are a few skills that could increase your chances of becoming a CFA Charter Holder:

Mathematical Skills Discipline Ethics
Analytical Skills Time Management Skills Attention to Detail
Decision-Making Skills Focus Diligence

CFA Program Benefits

Following are a few benefits that the CFA exam will provide to you:

  1. The CFA exam has proven to be more cost-effective than the MBA program.
  2. It makes you stand out in the competition.
  3. It is one of the most prestigious and valued qualifications in the finance and investment sectors. This helps you in earning instant credibility and industry respect.
  4. CFA society meets, webinars and seminars allow networking opportunities for faster career growth.
  5. The top investment firms hire people from among the pool of CFA charter holders.
  6. The pay package is very attractive. 
  • The Big Short – Michael Lewis
  • The Conspiracy Paper – David Liss
  • Investment Banking – Pearl & Rosenbaum
  • The Margin of Saftey – Seth Klarman
  • Dark Pools – Scott Patterson
  • More Money Than Gold – Sebastian Mallaby
  • Den of Thieves – James B Stewart
  • Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World’s Top Hedge Funds – Maneet Ahuja
  • Fooling Some of the People All of the Time – David Einhorn
  • When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management – Roger Lowenstein
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • Conspiracy of Fools – Kurt Eichenwald
  • The Alchemy of Finance – George Soros
  • All the Devils are Here – Bethany McLean, ‎Joe Nocera
  • The Dhando Investor – Mohnish Pabrai
  • Trend Following – Michael Covel
  • The Five Rules for Successful Investing – Pat Dorsey
  • The Little Book that Builds Wealth – Pat Dorsey
  • Market Wizards – Jack Schwager

CFA Admission 2023

If you wish to apply for CFA & confused about the registration process. Here is the step-wise registration process.

  • Visit the official website of the CFA
  • Create an account by filling up the required information like personal & professional details.
  • Upload the required documents.
  • Pay the required application fee.

Important things regarding CFA registration

  • You can pay the application fee via debit/credit card or Internet banking. 
  • The amount of the CFA application fee is not fixed & displayed at the time of registration.
  • The first registration fee timeline is cheaper than the last one.
  • The registration process is the same for almost every level.

Top Institution for CFA and Fees

There are limited institutions offering CFA in India. Here are the top 5 institutions offering CFA courses.

College Average Fees
Narayana Business School, Ahmedabad INR 1,25,000
Shri Chimanbhai Patel Institute of Professional Training, Ahmedabad INR 65,336
International College of Financial Planning, New Delhi INR 45,000
Central India Institute of Management Studies, Jabalpur INR 32,500
International College of Financial Planning INR 40,000

Relevance of CFA in India

According to IBEF India, India is expected to be the fourth-largest private wealth market globally by 2028. It is also a gateway to top profiles like Chartered Financial Analysts, Investment Managers, Portfolio Managers, etc. With the tremendous growth in financial literacy, stock market growth, and the flooding of the financial market with new-age investors, the demand is on the rise.

Top 10 CFA Institutions Abroad

Here is the list of the top institutions offering CFA abroad.

Name of the University QS World Ranking 2023
University of Toronto, Canada 34
University of Melbourne, Australia 33
University of Arizona, USA 201-250
University of New South Wales, Australia 45
University of British Columbia, Canada 47
Schulich School of Business, Canada
Anderson University, USA 57
Queensland University of Technology, Australia 222
Aston University, UK 561-570
Coventry University, UK 651-700

Also Read: Professional Courses after Graduation

University Affiliate Program for CFA

CFA in Canada 

A CFA certification is still worth it in Canada. According to one Canadian survey, CFA charter holders earned an average of $280,454 in 2014 compared to a $239,215 average in 2011. The average income jumped a little over $41K in three years which highlights the kind of growth to be expected with a CFA certification. The following are the top universities that offer CFA-affiliated courses:

Name of the University QS World Ranking 2023
Carleton University 601-650
Dalhousie University 308
Laval University 433
McMaster University 152
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 110
University of British Columbia 47
University of Waterloo 154
York University 162
Schulich School of Business

CFA in the UK

Name of the University QS World Ranking 2023
University of Cambridge 2
University of Oxford 4
London School of Economics and Political Science 56
University of Bath 179
University of East Anglia 342
University of St Andrews 92
King’s College London 37
University of Birmingham 91
Queen Mary University of London 125

CFA in the USA

Name of the University QS World Ranking 2023
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1
Stanford University
Harvard University 5
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 6
University of Delaware 581-590
Northwood University 671
Rice University 100
University of Dayton 401-450
State University of New York 39
University of Colorado 428

CFA in Australia

Name of the University QS World Ranking 2023
Australian National University 30
University of Sydney 41
The University of Melbourne 33
University of New South Wales 45
Monash University 57
University of Western Australia 90
University of Adelaide 109
University of Technology

CFA After MBA in Finance

Many candidates pursue CFA after MBA in Finance. It helps in networking, gaining a greater understanding of the financial and investment ecosystem, allows candidates to work globally with 165+ stakeholders and helps in gaining a competitive edge over other candidates in the field.

Career Prospects after CFA

For a professional working in the Finance sector, the CFA course can play an incremental role in enhancing their resume and polishing their skills and expertise. As it is a prestigious program, it has inculcated the coursework of plentiful finance programs offered by popular and reputed universities like New York University, University of Oxford’s Saiid Business School and INSEAD amongst other institutions. Earning your credential as a certified Chartered Financial Analyst, you can explore a varied range of career profiles including,

  • Research Analyst 
  • Corporate Financial Analyst 
  • Portfolios Manager 
  • Financial Advisor 
  • Investment Banker 
  • Relationship Manager 
  • Financial Strategist 

CFA Job & Salary

Here are a few roles where you could get hired after earning the CFA Charter along with the average salary earned:

Job Profile Average Annual Salary 
Portfolio Manager 10.83 lakhs per annum
Risk Analyst/ Risk Manager 9.96 lakhs per annum
Investment Banker 9.04 lakhs per annum 
Investment Officer 2.85 lakhs per annum
Research Analyst 6.51 lakhs per annum
Data Scientist 5.15 lakhs per annum
Private Wealth Manager 9.06 lakhs per annum
Investment Strategist 6.51 lakhs per annum
Investment Consultant 9 lakhs per annum
Accountant/ Auditor 4.90 lakhs per annum


Can I apply for CFA in my final year?

Yes, appearing students are eligible for CFA

Is there any work experience mandatory for CFA?

Yes, there should be work experience of 4 years.

What is the salary package after CFA?

The salary after CFA can range between Rs. 8,00,000 – 25,00,000

What is the level of competition of CFA?

The level of competition depends upon the level, it can be between 40 % to 50%

What is the duration of CFA?

The duration of CFA is 1.5 to 4 years.

Are there any universities abroad for CFA?

Yes, there are various universities abroad offering CFA.

Is a Passport required for CFA registration?

Yes, you do need a passport for CFA registration.

Is CFA better than MBA?

Both are compelling provides for candidates. CFA is more affordable and is completed over a span of 4 years and more while MBA takes 2-3 years to complete.

When is CFA Level 1 exam conducted?

CFA Level 1 exam is conducted twice a year.

Also Read: Job Oriented Courses after BCom

If the CFA course appeals to you with the colossal exposure it offers but you are confused about how it can benefit your career or how you can effectively prepare for this examination, then reach out to our team of experts at Leverage Edu and we’ll guide you in sorting out your interests and aspirations along with connecting you with suitable mentors that can help you prepare for this exam and attain this globally recognized credential to advance in your career.

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    1. Hi Abinaya!

      You can do CFA and MBA together; one is a certificate course while the other is a postgraduate degree. However, MBA’s can be demanding so if you can divide your time well between the courses then you should pursue them together. Hope this helps!

  1. A big thank you for this blog. this has really helped a lot in understanding the course and has answered almost every question that i had regarding the same. Kudos

    1. Hi Abinaya!

      You can do CFA and MBA together; one is a certificate course while the other is a postgraduate degree. However, MBA’s can be demanding so if you can divide your time well between the courses then you should pursue them together. Hope this helps!

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