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What Is a Chartered Financial Analyst®?

The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) certification is a globally recognized certification in the investment management profession that can be earned via completion of an extensive study program, examination, and application process. It is administered by the CFA Institute and is recognized in many countries as a master’s degree equivalent. 

The CFA charter exam was first administered in 1963, and its roots date back to 1947. Earning the CFA charter is a mark of distinction in the investment industry, demonstrating a high standard of knowledge in investment management, risk management, asset management, and more. It takes an average of four years to complete the program, and the pass rate ranges in the 40 to 50 percent range. About 170,000 individuals worldwide have earned the CFA charter.

The CFA holder commands a strong foundation in advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills. CFA charter holders gain career agility and breadth with demonstrated knowledge of asset and wealth management, investment banking, commercial banking, and consulting.

The CFA program is a three-part exam requiring 900 hours of study that tests the fundamentals of investment tools, valuing assets, portfolio management, and wealth planning. CFA charter holders earn the right to use the CFA designation after passing the exam, meeting the 4,000 hours of experience requirement, becoming approved via an extensive application process with reference and ethics requirements, and gaining approval from the CFA Institute.