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CA Manoj Goel

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Over the years, CFA as a course has gained a lot of popularity, more so in India. The growth in number of candidates registering for CFA in India has been rising at 30% YoY for the last 7 years, and today India is the 3rd largest market for CFA after China and US. 

This brings a lot of competition among the candidates, both in terms of clearing the exams as well as securing a job. It’s safe to say that the Job seekers in the industry has increased but at the same time finance companies have only started to grow in India.

According to NSE (National Stock Exchange) only 2.3% of the entire Indian population has invested in capital markets where as the figure is close to 78% in US. Now, just imagine the amount of inflow capital markets we will witness when the Indian population gradually starts to move their money from their savings and other asset classes towards capital markets.

Hence, going by all these data points one can easily conclude that there is going be big demand for skilled finance experts for the foreseeable future. 

CFA Salary in India

We all know how well the banking industry pays, one of the most highly paid industry is banking. In US the average pay of a banker with fair amount of work experience and with any big conglomerate firm is north of USD $ 200,000. 

Pay is in par with other industries in the initial 3-4 years of your career but it starts to grow exponentially once you reach a certain level.

A CFA charter with about 15+ years in the industry typically makes a minimum of INR 50,00,000 annually in India. Also the best part about CFA is that recognition starts from level- 1 itself and you can start working while prepping for level 2 and level 3.

As you move up the ladder, the salaries also moves parallel. Given below is data of salaries which a CFA Candidate gets after clearing different levels of examination, in tabular format

Level of CFA ClearedAverage Annual Salary (INR)
Level 13 to 4.5 Lakh
Level 26 Lakh
Level 3Above 10 Lakh

Disclaimer – These figures are based on an average data and vary by a wide margin depending on the work experience, skillset, personality, firm employed in, etc. 

Scope of CFA in India

CFA is a very generic finance course and it is not particularly specified to any particular asset class. CFA covers every asset class on an in depth basis in terms of its core fundamentals and uses. This results in an array of opportunities as it is not confined to just equity or bonds or real estate or derivatives.

CFA opens up career paths in almost every asset class and you will come across CFA(s) in every domain in the industry. Although most CFA candidates want to build their career as a buy side equity analyst and portfolio management but there are a lot many other choices like Quantitative data analyst, Trader, Consultant, Alternate investments, Real estate, Fixed income, Investment banking, Private equity, etc.

So, clearly the scope post CFA is huge, and one can pick their own choice of interest and specialize in that. The scope further widens if one acquires other skill sets necessary in the industry which CFA syllabus does not cover – Financial modeling, Pitch Books, Valuations etc. 

Employers

This data is collected from CFA institute career website, Indeed, monster, Naukri, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and some other job portals. 

Some of the top Employers looking specifically for CFA are:

  • JP Morgan Chase and Co. (JPMC)
  • United Bank of Scotland (UBS)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
  • HSBC
  • Wells Fargo
  • Citi Group
  • Morgan Stanley
  • HDFC, Kotak Mahindra, ICICI
  • Barclays
  • Bloomberg
  • Carlyle Group
  • Blackstone
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Fidelity
  • Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PWC
  • Standard Chartered
  • Jefferies
  • Bluecrest Capital
  • General Atlantic
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Bank of America
  • Merrill Lynch
  • BNP Paribas
  • Bajaj Finance
  • Nomura

These are some of the top firms that recruit CFA Charter holders and anywhere between 1% to 6% of the entire workforce in these organizations are a CFA.  

Roles offered by top employers

Roles are mainly in the capital markets, divided across different asset classes within the market. Roles are in the entry level during the start of your career and post you gain your Charter you can expect to move up the ladder into mid-level and executive level roles going ahead. Don’t be shy to grab internship opportunities in these roles at the start of your career as it is very crucial to understand what exactly that role entails and what responsibilities they come with.

Below are some of the most aimed at roles and also the ones with the highest number of CFAs currently present in:

  • Buy Side Equity Research 
  • Research Analyst
  • Portfolio Management 
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Advisory
  • Consultancy
  • Trading in various asset classes
  • Investment Banking
  • Accounting/ Auditing
  • Corporate Finance 
  • Private Equity/ Venture Capital 
  • Merchant Banking 
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CFA and CPA are two courses that are both recognized globally and is of the highest standard in their respective industries. Let’s try and understand each course in detail and then decide as to what suits you the best.

Which one is more suitable – CFA or cpa?

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) as a career is advisable for people who want to make a career in portfolio management or investment banking and other related fields. It is organized by the CFA Institute headquartered in Virginia U.S.A. which was established in the year 1947. It is a globally recognized course and is of the highest standard in its industry. A CFA Charter is very highly respected and appreciated in the industry. Most of the career paths that that a CFA degree opens up are:

  • Equity Research
  • Investment Banking
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Consultants
  • Financial Advisory

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a course that specializes in the field of Accountancy and Taxation. The CPA is similar to the Indian CA qualification, the only difference is that while Indian CA focuses on IND AS (Accounting Standards) the CPA focuses on the US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). So perusing CPA adds a lot of benefit if you are planning to work in the US or a US based Firm.  CPA is organized and administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) a body which is headquartered in North Carolina U.S.A. and was established in the year 1887. CPA also is recognized and respected across the globe and is considered of the highest standard in its industry. Once you have cleared all the papers of CPA with a minimum score of 75% in each paper you are eligible to apply for the CPA License also.  Some of the career option that CPA opens up is:

  • Internal Audit
  • External Audit
  • Tax Consulting
  • Corporate Accounting

Conclusion – To sum it all up you should opt for CPA as a career option if you want to build your career more towards auditing and taxation related roles whereas CFA as a career option should be chosen by those who want to be in the investment based and capital markets related roles.

Key Difference between CFA and CPA Exams

CriteriaCFACPA
  EligibilityMust be in the final year or have a bachelor degree/ 4 years of work experience in any fieldMust have a minimum of bachelor’s degree through any English medium college or university with a minimum of 45%.
      Exam DetailsLevel – I 240 MCQ Questions Exams held in June & December Level – 2 120 MCQ Questions Exams held only in June Level – 3 10 essay type questions and 60 MCQ Questions Exams held only in June   All 3 levels have two session of 3 hours each: Morning Session of 3 Hours Afternoon Session of 3 HoursThere are a total of 4 papers all of which are online based: Auditing and Attestation- 90 Questions and 7 task based simulationsBusiness Environment and Concepts- 72 Questions and 3 written communication tasksFinancial Accounting and Reporting- 90 Questions and 7 task based simulationsRegulation – 72 Question  and 6 task based simulations
Passing RatesLevel – I     42% Level – 2    45% Level – 3    52%On an Average 50% across all four exams
Time taken2-3 YearsCan be completed easily  within 1 year or even 6 months if you appear for all the 4 papers in one go.
Fees$450 Registration Fees (Valid Throughout) $700/$1,000/$1,350 for each level depending on the time of registration The earlier you register the less you have to pay.One time registration fees of $50-$200 depending on the state of jurisdiction and then $ 356 for each of the 4 papers.

Which is more Difficult – CFA or CPA?

As clearly seen in the passing rates CFA is more difficult in comparison to CPA. On an average about  50% of the registered candidates clear CPA exam whereas about 7% of the candidates clear all the 3 levels of CFA. In terms of course also, the course of CFA is much more lengthy and detailed in comparison to CPA.

CFA and CPA Subjects

In total CFA has 10 subjects for Level 1 & Level 2 and 7 subjects for Level 3

The CFA exam question paper covers multiple choice questions for level 1 & 2, and multiple choice and essay writing both for level 3 exam.

CPA has a total of 4 subjects and hence one paper for each subject.

 The CPA exam question paper cover multiple choice questions, written communications and Task based simulations for all 4 papers.

CFACPA
Ethical and Professional Standards (Level 1,2,3)Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
Quantitative Methods (Level 1,2)Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
Economics (Level 1,2,3)Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
Financial Reporting and Analysis (Level 1,2)Regulation (REG)
Corporate Finance (Level 1,2)
Equity Investments (Level 1,2,3)
Fixed Income (Level 1,2,3)
Derivatives (Level 1,2,3)
Alternative Investments (Level 1,2,3)
Portfolio Management (Level 1,2,3)

Average CFA Salary/Package Vs CPA Salary in India

CertificationCFACPA
Level  13- 4+ Lakhs P.A.
Level  26- 10+ Lakhs P.A.
Level  312+ Lakhs P.A.
Charter Holder/ Certified12-18+ Lakhs P.A.15+ Lakhs P.A.

As you can see, salary wise CPA and CFA Jobs pay relatively the same amount. A major benefit of CFA is that recognition starts from Level- 1 itself and hence you can start working simultaneously while preparing for your Level 2 & 3, but in case of CPA you need to clear all 4 papers for recognition and job to start. Although it has been observed that a Licensed CPA makes about 15% – 20% higher than an Indian CA mainly due to the global validation of CPA.

the CFA + CPA Combo

Right after college pursing both the courses simultaneously is not recommended as there is very little or no upside pursuing both, as both are two very different courses and are from different industries. Also both are also very expensive on the pocket.

Hence , maybe a couple of years down the line you may consider doing the other but pursuing both the courses right after college will not yield you any extra returns. This may sound a little wrong but that is the ground reality, focus on any one initially and save up that money and time for future.

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If you are reading this article it means either you have already registered for the CFA Level-I exam or you are planning to. So before jumping on to the syllabus and how to prepare for the exam let’s understand the exam first.

The CFA exam is organized and conducted by the CFA institute headquartered in Virginia, USA. It is a Non-Profit Organization established in the year 1947. Since then CFA as a career option has gained a lot of attention especially in the financial world, and has covered a long journey in becoming the most prestigious degree today in the finance industry.

Today CFA is recognized and respected in over 165 countries and hence is best suited for people who want to move overseas as it is a course which is recognized globally. The CFA Level- I exam as the name suggests is the first exam in your path to become a CFA Charter holder. 

Plan out a study routine and strictly follow it

Most Charter holders give credit to their study routine and plan behind the success of becoming a Charter holder. Since, CFA is a completely analytical exam you not only need to read the material thoroughly but also understand it in such a way that you can apply the concept in different situations because that is how you are tested in the exam.

To achieve this you need a lot of hours of preparations hence it is recommended to start early and follow a routine. An average candidate studies for about 450 to 600 hours to be exam ready. Also you need to keep the last 30 days only for the practice questions and mocks and other question banks.

Typically it is suggested to divide your timing in the below manner once you have a schedule ready:

ActivityPercentage of Total Time
Preparing 30-40% of the total time 
Practicing40%-50% of the total time 
Performing20% of the total time

 Exam Weights and topics

There are a total of 10 subjects and each subject has a different weightage in the exam and it is very crucial to keep that in mind and prepare accordingly. Every topic is divided as Learning Outcome Statements (LOS).

 CFA institute places Ethics as a characteristic to the highest priority and hence it is important to focus on Ethics as many candidates avoid it assuming to be a sub topic and leave it for later. Make sure you get a strong hold over Ethics.

Also the exam pattern and weightages keep changing every year so make sure to use the latest materials and videos and stay updated. At the start of every LOS the institute mentions what is the main objective of that LOS, so make sure to read that and study that LOS accordingly, for example- if the LOS says calculate, it means you will be asked to solve numerical from that topic, if the LOS says describe the institute only wants you to understand that topic and no numerical will be asked from that topic.

Hence, it is very crucial to first analyze what exactly the institute is trying to impart from a particular topic and then prepare accordingly.

Mocks and questions

This is literally the key to cracking the exam, going through the material and videos won’t help clear the exam. Practicing as many questions as possible giving as many mocks as possible is the key to clearing the exam.

The end of chapter questions of the CFA Institute and the practice questions in the CFA website should be answered at least 2-3 times and analyze which ever questions you answered wrong.

Coming to mocks, appear for all three mocks available on the CFA website and all 3 mocks provided by Kalpan Schweser as these are prepared in the exact same format and weightage as the exam is and is usually slightly difficult than the real exam and hence are perfect to give a real feel of the exam and show where exactly do you stand and which areas do you need to focus more on.

Appear for some of the mocks about 15 to 20 days before the exam so that you can improvise on the areas where you are lacking behind and then give some mocks 3 to 4 days before the exam to see the improvement.

Also never be demotivated by looking at the score of the mocks, that is not the purpose of giving mocks rather try to see where did you go wrong the reasons behind those mistakes and improvise on them.

Pro Tips

  • Prepare a formula sheet subject wise and if possible understand the formula rather than memorizing.
  • Follow your planned routine and do not deviate from it.
  • Make your own notes subject wise and keep them handy.
  • Go through the questions you answered wrong.
  • Focus more on practicing rather than studying.
  • Take a day’s break after every 10 days to release stress.
  • Do not take Ethics lightly.
  • Watch videos if reading feels exhaustive.
  • Be a part of CFA groups in whatsapp as a lot of important information is shared in them.
  • Last but not the least Study Hard and Study Smart.
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List of study materials and a brief on them

CFA Institute books- When you successfully register for the Level-I exam CFA institute provides you with 6 books covering all the 10 topics.

The institute provides a soft copy of the books and if you wish to get a hard copy of the same you need to pay an additional $150 for it.

The CFA institute books are the best study material but only if you have plenty of time, if you have a minimum 6 months left for the exam only then should you refer the CFA Institute books because there are a total of about 4,000 pages and you cannot afford to skip topics.

The End of chapter questions on these books are the best to solve some questions after understanding a topic to get a feel of the type of questions asked in the exam.

Kaplan Schweser- This is probably the most widely used material for CFA Level- I exam. The best part here is that it covers every topic but briefly, so it is not as lengthy as the CFA Institute books.

The end of chapter questions here also is very crucial from the exam perspective. You get 3 additional mock papers within the book set which is very useful and gives a real feel of the exams.

Wiley- This is another 3rd party prep provider and again is very widely used among the candidates. Although the language here is not as easy as Kaplan and hence, beginners might struggle here initially to get hands on.

The WallStreet School’s Online Course covers all aspects of the preparation as it a CFA Approved Prep Provider, which is a good option for the students who don’t want the hassle of going through all different resources and want everything at one place.

Get the 4 month CFA Study Planner on your Email

Which course to pursue – CA or CFA or both as a career option? This has been a big debate among the college students, especially who want to make a career in the financial world. Both the courses are the best in their respective industry and is highly respected and appreciated.

The biggest difference is that CA is entirely focused on the Indian account system, Indian laws related to taxation and companies, whereas CFA is a global course which is recognized in more than 150+ countries and follows the US GAAP and the IFRS.

Who is this course for?

Firstly giving a glimpse into both the courses from a broad view. CFA is the most generic international course in finance, as it covers every topic of finance in absolute detail and it is the most highly recognized and respected course in the field of finance throughout the world.

CFA is organized by the CFA Institute which was founded in the year 1947 and is headquartered in Virginia U.S.A. CFA is best suited for students who want to build their career in

  • Equity Research
  • Investment Banking
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Consultants
  • Financial Advisory

Coming to CA, it is an India specific course that is organized by the ICAI which was a body founded in the year 1949. CA focuses more on accounting, company laws, taxation and auditing. If you want to build your career in these areas then perusing CA is the right choice. Some career roles as a CA:

  • Audit team
  • Financial Accounting
  • Tax Consultant
  • Financial Advisory
  • Banking Division
  • Company law and regulatory team

Difference between CFA and CA

Criteria CFA CA
EligibilityMust be in the final year or have a bachelor degree/ 4 years of work experience in any fieldQualify CPT and (10+2) Aggregate of 55% in graduation/under graduation  
Exam DetailsLevel – I 240 MCQ Questions Exams held in June & December Level – 2 120 MCQ Questions Exams held only in June Level – 3 10 essay type questions and 60 MCQ Questions Exams held only in JuneCPT – This is the 1st step and has 2 sessions of 100 marks each. IPCC – This has 2 groups in it. 1st group has four subjects of 100 marks each and 2nd group has 3 subjects of 100 marks each. CA Final- 8 papers of 100 marks each.
Passing RatesLevel – I     42% Level – 2    45% Level – 3    52%CPT-  26% IPCC-  15% CA Final- 21%
Time taken2-3 Years5 years
Fees$450 Registration Fees (Valid Throughout) $700/$1,000/$1,350 for each level depending on the time of registrationCPT –INR 6,700 IPCC- INR 9,000 Articleship Registration- 2,000 CA Final- 22,000  

From the cost perspective as we saw above clearly CFA is much more expensive as compared to CA.

Although one important part to emphasize here is that when opting for CA, after completing your IPCC exams you are required by compulsion to attain a three year articleship under a CA for which you are paid about 5-7K a month, whereas after completing your CFA Level-1 only you can choose to work as you get roles even after just completing CFA Level-1 with an average pay of 20-30K a month.

So, CFA is definitely a more expensive course than CA but if seen more from an opportunity cost point it is CA which ultimately turns out to be the more expensive exam as you have to compromise 3 years of pay while doing articleship and also the recognition is there only after becoming CA, but recognition starts from Level-1 only in case of CFA.

Which is more Difficult CFA or CA?

For CA you have to remember a lot of topics especially in Law and Tax which requires a lot of mugging up. For CFA it is more of a conceptual and analytical based course, so if you get the concepts and understandings you can clear the exam there is no mugging up required. On a broad level it is CA that is considered to be more difficult of the two exams.

CFA and CA Subjects

In total CFA has 10 subjects for Level 1 & 2and 7 subjects for Level 3

CA has 4 subjects for CPT, 8 subjects for IPCC, 8 subjects in CA final divided into 2 groups of 4 subjects each. 

CFA

  • Ethical and Professional Standards (Level 1,2,3)
  • Quantitative Methods (Level 1,2)
  • Economics (Level 1,2,3)
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis (Level 1,2)
  • Corporate Finance (Level 1,2)
  • Equity Investments (Level 1,2,3)
  • Fixed Income (Level 1,2,3)
  • Derivatives (Level 1,2,3)
  • Portfolio Management (Level 1,2,3)
  • Alternative Investments (Level 1,2,3)
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CA

CPT (Common Proficiency Test)

  • Fundamentals of Accounting
  • Business Economics and Commercial Knowledge
  • Business Mathematics, Statistics, and Logical Reasoning
  • Business Laws and Business Correspondence and Reporting

IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)

  • Accounting
  • Cost Accounting and Financial Management
  • Advanced Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing and Assurance
  • Business Laws, Ethics and Communication
  • Information Technology and Strategic Management
  • Corporate and other Laws

CA Final Group 1

  • Financial Reporting
  • Strategic Financial Management
  • Advanced Auditing and Professional Ethics
  • Corporate and Economic Laws

CA Final Group 2

  • Strategic cost management and performance evaluation
  • Electives
  • Direct Tax Laws and International Taxation
  • Indirect Tax Laws

Top few firms that recruit CFA and CA

  • Deutsche bank
  • Citi Group
  • Goldman Sachs
  • J.P. Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley
  • HDFC Bank
  • ICICI Bank
  • SBI Bank
  • EY
  • Deloitte
  • KPMG
  • PWC
  • Black Rock
  • Mirae Asset Management
  • Morning Star
  • Nomura
  • CRISIL
  • Care Ratings
  • Bloomberg
  • And many more

Average CFA Salary Vs CA Salary in India

After CFA Level- 1(3- 4+ Lakhs P.A.)
After CFA Level- 2  (6- 10+ Lakhs P.A.)
After CFA Level- 3 (12+ Lakhs P.A.)
After CFA Charter (18+ Lakhs P.A.)

An Average CA makes 7.36 Lakhs P.A. according to ICAI reports.

Highest packages is for CFA specializing in Investment Banking Industry with a decent amount of work experience, here the salary is north of USD $100,000 plus bonuses.

Benefits of doing CFA after CA

Pursuing CFA after CA is one of the best decisions one can make to further outgrow their careers.

Let’s prove this by numbers as the total asset management industry in the world is at around USD $70 Trillion. For those who don’t understand this number let me tell the current GDP of India which is USD $3 Trillion.

Just imagine the market share and opportunity size here. So if you plan to do CFA along with your CA, you possess skills which very few people do and this automatically gives you an edge over the others.

Also financial management and Investments have only started in India and it is going to grow at more than 16% over the next 10- 15 years of which you can be a part by pursuing both CFA and CA.

Be it mutual funds, venture capital, private equity Funds, insurance companies, hedge funds all these sectors are going to create enormous amounts of job opportunities as well as from an individual portfolio management perspective.

Also the pay in these industries is the best as compared to any other field in any industry, so going forward there is a huge potential in the Indian financial services sector which can be tapped into.

Hence, by pursuing both the courses you have knowledge about company laws, company evaluation, taxation, various asset classes, how the financial services sector works, etc. This will be an asset that will have no monetary value going forward specially in the Indian financial services industry.

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Most of the students who are in their college graduation and want to make a career in finance ask the question of whether they should pursue CFA or FRM or both as a career option.

It is one of the hottest topics during your college days and is a debate that has been there for a long time now. Let’s try to understand each course in detail and then decide as to what suits you the best.

Which is more SUitable?

Firstly I’ll be giving a glimpse into both the courses from a broad perspective.

CFA is the most generic international course in finance, as it covers every topic of finance in absolute detail and it is the most highly recognized and respected course in the field of finance throughout the world. CFA is best suited for students who want to build their career in :

  • Equity Research
  • Investment Banking
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity
  • Corporate Finance
  • Portfolio Management
  • Financial Advisory

Roles related to equity research, portfolio management is where you research and identify some investments that best suits your client’s interests and manage their money in order to generate returns for them. Investment banking is where you help corporate companies in fund raising, consultation, Merger and Acquisitions, etc.

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FRM, on the other hand, is a very niche course that is focused entirely in risk management. FRM also is recognized internationally and is a highly respected course. FRM is conducted by GARP which was founded in the year 1996 and is headquartered in New Jersey U.S.A. FRM is best suited for profiles like :

  • Credit Risk
  • Market Risk
  • Operational Risk
  • Banking and Treasury
  • Quant Trading

All these roles might seem a little scary and confusing to some of you who are a complete newbie in financial markets. To give a brief on these roles related to risk management is where you access and analyze various types of risks and take precautionary measures to avoid risks beyond a certain limit.

Verdict – To sum it all up one should pursue FRM as a career option if he/she is more inclined towards risk management and quants. On the other hand, CFA as a career option should be pursued if one is more inclined towards equity markets. CFA also covers some portion of risk management but is not that deep as FRM is.

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Difference between CFA and FRM

CriteriaCFAFRM
EligibilityMust be in the final year or have a bachelor degree/ 4 years of work experience in any fieldNo work experience or educational qualification is required
Exam DetailsLevel – I 240 MCQ Questions Exams held in June & December Level – 2 120 MCQ Questions Exams held only in June Level – 3 10 essay type questions and 60 MCQ Questions Exams held only in JunePart – 1 100 MCQ Questions Exams held in May & November Part – 2  80 MCQ Questions Exams held in May & November
Passing RatesLevel – I     42% Level – 2    45% Level – 3    52%Part 1   43% Part 2   54%
Time taken2-3 Years1 year
Fees$450 Registration Fees (Valid Throughout) $700/$1,000/$1,350 for each level depending on the time of registration$400 Registration fees (Valid for 4 Years) $350/$475/$650 for each Part depending on the time of registration

Which is more Difficult CFA or FRM?

Candidates who have done both CFA & FRM usually state that FRM is comparatively more difficult as the questions in FRM are all application based as there is very little theory in FRM. Although the course structure of CFA is lengthier and takes much more time to prepare. The most common reason candidates say that FRM is more difficult is due to the use of advanced mathematics which is not required in CFA. So, if you are good in mathematics and you are keen on a future related to it, FRM is a better choice for you.

CFA and FRM Subjects

In total CFA has 10 subjects for Level 1 & 2and 7 subjects for Level 3

FRM has a total of 4 subjects for Part 1 & 5 subjects for Part 2 

CFAFRM
Ethical and Professional Standards (Level 1,2,3)Foundations of Risk Management (Part 1)
Quantitative Methods (Level 1,2)Quantitative analysis (Part 1)
Economics (Level 1,2,3)Financial Markets and Products (Part 1)
Financial Reporting and Analysis (Level 1,2)Valuations and Risk Models (Part 1)
Corporate Finance (Level 1,2)Market Risk Measurement and Management (Part 2)
Equity Investments (Level 1,2,3)Credit Risk Measurement and Management (Part 2)
Fixed Income (Level 1,2,3)Operational and integrated Risk Management (Part 2)
Derivatives (Level 1,2,3)Risk Management and Investment Management (Part 2)
Alternative Investments (Level 1,2,3)Current Issues in Financial Markets (Part 2)
Portfolio Management (Level 1,2,3)                                        –

Top few firms that recruit CFA and FRM

  • Deutsche bank
  • Citi Group
  • Goldman Sachs
  • J.P. Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley
  • HDFC Bank
  • ICICI Bank
  • SBI Bank
  • Black Rock
  • Mirae Asset Management
  • Morning Star
  • Nomura
  • CRISIL
  • Care Ratings
  • Bloomberg
    And many more

Average CFA Salary/Package Vs FRM Salary in India

CertificationCFAFRM
Level  1 / Part 13- 4+ Lakhs P.A.3- 4+ Lakhs P.A.
Level  2 / Part 26- 10+ Lakhs P.A.6- 10+ Lakhs P.A.
Level 312+ Lakhs P.A.
Charter Holder12-18+ Lakhs P.A.12-16+ Lakhs P.A.

As you can see on the salary side both the courses are almost similar. Also, note these figures are based on assuming that the candidate is a fresher in the industry.

Firstly many congratulations on clearing your CFA level- II Exam, I’m sure it must have been a very proud moment for you and your family.

Now, the CFA Level-III Exam is the last exam of the 3 levels and there are quite a few changes to it from every perspective and hence it is very crucial to understand everything about it and then move forward with the preparations.

Although this journey comes to and end with the end of this exam but the memories of the same will remain forever with you, those sleepless nights, multiple coffees every night, high pressure, focus and devotion, endless mocks and whatnot.

So let’s understand everything there is to know about it and end this beautiful journey with flying colors.

Syllabus

So there are 7 subjects in total in the CFA level-III curriculum, unlike Level-I & II which both have 10 subjects. Below are the subjects along with their respective exam weightages:

Equity(10- 15%)
Fixed Income(15- 20%)
Derivatives(5- 10%)
Alternate Investments(5- 10%)
Economics(5- 10%)
Portfolio Management(35- 40%)
Ethical and Professional Standards(10- 15%)

As you can clearly see Portfolio Management here carries the highest weightage with 40% weight and hence is the most important subject in Level-III exam and in-fact the key to clearing Level-III Exam is to look every question, every content from a portfolio manager’s point of view. Also as there are only 7 subjects in Level-III, so the content is also less compared to other levels which is why it is highly suggested to read the entire CFA Curriculum for Level-III.

Fees

There is the standard registration fee for the CFA Level-III Exam just like there was previously for level I &II which again varies depending on the time of your enrollment.

Early registration fees USD 700
Standard registration fees USD 1000
Late registration fees USD 1400

Exam Pattern

The CFA Level-III Exam is not a completely Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) based exam unlike the other two levels, here apart from MCQ Questions there is also essay based questions which is why it is crucial to understand how to frame the answer and go about it as this is where most candidates face the issues, i.e. – despite knowing the answers many are unable to frame the answers in a structured manner, the key to which is to think like a portfolio manager and then answer it.

In simple terms the answer should be from a firm’s view and not just a department of it. It is an Offline exam just like previous exams. It is a 6 hour based exam which is divided into two parts of equal time. There is a 2 hour break in between for your lunch and other activities.

  • Morning session– This is the 1st part of the exam and is called Structured Response Exam sometimes also called Essay Exam of 3 hours which consists of (8 – 12) questions, each with several subparts and has a maximum of 180 points (The point value of each question is provided in the exam booklet) and the questions can be based on any of the subjects.
  • Afternoon session– This is the 2nd part of the Exam which also is of 3 hours and consists of 11 item sets also called vignettes, 8 of them have 6 questions each and the remaining 3 item sets have 4 questions each making a total of 60 questions just like in Level-II, which again can be based on any of the subjects.

Documents and Eligibility required to enroll for the CFA level- III Exam

All the documents that were required to appear for Level-I & Level-II are required for Level-III also.

Average Salary of a CFA Level- III cleared

These Figures are for the ones who have no prior work experience and have just started with their careers:

  • In India: Average Pay for a CFA Level- III cleared in India is around 7 – 15 L.P.A. for someone who has just started out with his career. Note- getting into a core finance profile such as Valuations, Investment Banking, etc. right after CFA Level- III is not very easy and you might have to gain some prior work experience or right connections in the industry, financial modeling skills is a very crucial skill for most of the roles.
  • In US: Average Pay for CFA Level- III cleared in US is about $50,000 – $75,000 annually for a newbie who has just stared out.

JOB Profiles post Level- III

Most of the job profile one can expect after completing all 3 levels are-

  • Equity Research Analyst
  • Corporate Financial Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Credit Research Analyst
  • Valuation Analyst

How much time it requires to study for CFA Level- III:

On an average it is estimated by the CFA Institute that a minimum of 300 hour preparation is required for CFA Level- III, although this is a very ballpark figure as it very much depends upon prior knowledge, experience, grasping skills and various other factors. On an average candidates say it takes about 450- 600 hours to completely grasp the concept and be confident about it.

How to prepare for CFA Level- III

The part where most candidates make mistake is that they take Level III slightly for granted by looking at the passing rate and getting over confident by clearing Level II. The passing sure is 50% for Level III which is the highest among all 3 levels but the part to consider here is that it is 50% of those who have already cleared the previous 2 levels so you are already competing amongst the best students.

Also, another factor here is that candidates are not used to the essay writing exams of the morning session and this is where most candidates suffer. It is very crucial to prepare well for the morning session especially, as we are well versed with the MCQ type questions but not the essay questions.

One major point here is to frame the answers very structurally and answer every question from the perspective of a portfolio manager, considering effects on every asset class. Also answering more and more questions and giving a minimum of 10-12 mocks is also very crucial to get hands on the timing and type of questions.

Things you should carry in the Exam hall

  • BA Plus II Calculator/ Ba Plus II Professional Calculator
  • A set of Pencils
  • A set of black ballpoint pens
  • A rubber
  • A Pencil sharpener
  • A watch (Not a Smart Watch)
  • An extra battery for your calculator along with a screwdriver

First of all hearty congratulations on clearing your CFA Level-I.

CFA level- II Exam is the next step towards getting your CFA Charter and is more focused towards the valuations of all the asset classes, most candidates believe that this is the most difficult and brutal of all the 3 levels, but I beg to differ. If you have prepared well enough, have devoted your time and energy towards it, then it is not so difficult, the key here is to focus more towards understanding the concepts and reasons behind everything rather than memorizing it.

 So let’s understand everything there is to know about it without further ado.

Syllabus

Just like Level-I, here also there are 10 subjects in total but there is a slight twist here with respect to the weightages of the subjects, as the weightages in Level-II are given on a range basis and the weightages will vary in between that range. So, let’s have a look at the same:

Subject Weightage
Equity Valuation (10- 15%)
Fixed Income (10- 15%)
Financial Reporting and Analysis (10- 15%)
Derivatives (5- 10%)
Alternative Investments (5- 10%)
Economics (5- 10%)
Portfolio Management (10- 15%)
Corporate Finance (5- 10%)
Ethical and Professional Standards (10- 15%)
Quantitative Methods (5- 10%)

Fees

The enrollment fee of USD 450 is not required here as it valid throughout the CFA program when you paid for it in your Level-I registration. So, now you only have to pay for the Level-II registration fee which again varies depending on the time of your enrollment.

TypeAmount
Early registration fees USD 700
Standard registration fees USD 1000
Late registration fees USD 1450 

Exam Pattern

The CFA Level-II exam is a completely Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) based exam. Also here the pattern is slightly different from Level-I as in here you will get about 20 item sets of about 2-3 pages each and there will be 6 questions based on each item set, coming to a total of 120 questions. It is an Offline Exam and can be given in the venues provided by the CFA Institute which the Institute communicates via E-mail a month before the exam. It is a 6 hour based exam which is divided into two parts of equal time. There is a 2-hour break in between for your lunch and other activities.

  • Morning session– This is the 1st part of the exam and is of 3 hours which consists of 60 MCQ questions and 10 item sets, which can be based on any of the subjects.
  • Afternoon session– This is the 2nd part of the Exam which also is of 3 hours and consists of 60 MCQ questions and 10 item sets, which again can be based on any of the subjects.

On average you get about 3 minutes to answer each question whereas you were getting 1.5 minutes per question in CFA Level-I, hence you can expect more time to answer each question this time.

Documents and Eligibility required to enroll for the CFA level- II Exam:

All the documents that were required to appear for CFA Level-I, also this time you need to be a college graduate, being in the final year is not allowed, you have to be a college pass out. Again a valid International Travel Passport is mandatory.

Average Salary of a CFA Level- II cleared:

These figures are for the ones who have no prior work experience and have just started with their careers:

  • In India: Average Pay for a CFA Level II cleared in India is around 4.5- 7 L.P.A. for someone who has just started out with his career. Note- getting into a core finance profile such as Valuations, Investment Banking, etc. right after CFA Level- II is not very easy and you might have to gain some prior work experience or right connections in the industry. I would advise to stay active in LinkedIn and stay in constant touch with the people in the industry.
  • In US: Average Pay for CFA Level- II cleared in US is about $45,000 annually for a newbie who has just stared out.

Job Profiles after clearing CFA LEVEL- II

Most of the job profiles you can expect after clearing your Level-II would be buy-side equity research analyst as it is the most common and a decent paying job. Apart from this, you can look for other jobs like Investment Banking, Credit Analyst, Bond Market Profiles, Trader, etc.

How much time it requires to study for CFA Level- II

On average it is estimated by the CFA Institute that a minimum 300-hour preparation is required for CFA Level- II, although this is a very ballpark figure as it very much depends upon prior knowledge, experience, grasping skills and various other factors. Most people suggest that about 500- 600 hours is a good amount of time to be well prepared for the big day.

How to prepare for CFA Level- II

Level II focuses more on your valuation skills and techniques and hence it is very crucial to understand how different asset classes are valued and which technique is better suited under which scenario.

Solving as many questions as possible is the best way to bring in the time efficiency and confidence level. The most important thing is to solve the questions at the end of each chapter of CFA Curriculum Books and Schweser Books and all the questions on the CFA Website (Practice Questions).

Apart from this, try to give a minimum of 8-10 mocks, especially the CFA Website mocks and the Schweser mocks as these will give you a lot of ideas on how to answer in the real exam.

Passing Rate:

On Average about 45% of the candidates who appear for the exam clear the CFA Level-II.

Things you should carry in the Exam hall:

  • BA Plus II Calculator/ BA Plus II Professional Calculator
  • A set of Pencils
  • A rubber
  • A Pencil sharpener
  • A watch (Not a Smart Watch)
  • An extra battery for you calculator along with a screwdriver

CFA level- I Exam is the stepping stone on this beautiful journey of becoming a CFA Charter holder, this is where the hardworking yet blissful journey starts. So let’s understand everything there is to know about it without further ado.

Syllabus

There are 10 subjects in total in the CFA level 1 curriculum along with their respective exam weightages:

TopicWeightage
Equity11%
Fixed Income 11%
Financial Reporting and Analysis 15%
Derivatives6%
Alternate Investments 6%
Economics10%
Portfolio Management6%
Corporate Finance10%
Ethical and Professional Standards15%
Quantitative Methods10%

Fees

There is a one-time USD 450 enrollment fee which is required when you enroll for the 1st time for the CFA Level-I exam. It is valid throughout your CFA journey no matter how many attempts you appear for. Apart from this there is a registration fee for the CFA Level-1 exam which varies depending on the time of your enrollment.

Early registration feesUSD 700
Standard registration feesUSD 1000
Late registration feesUSD 1450

Exam Pattern

The CFA Level-I exam is a completely Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) based exam. It is an Offline Exam but from 2021 onwards The CFA Institute has decided to make CFA Level-1 Exam a completely online-based exam, although the pattern remains the same. It is a 6 hour based exam which is divided into two parts of equal time. There is a 2-hour break in between for your lunch and other activities.

  • Morning session– This is the 1st part of the exam and is of 3 hours which consists of 120 MCQ questions, which can be based on any of the subjects.
  • Afternoon session– This is the 2nd part of the Exam which also is of 3 hours and consists of 120 MCQ questions, which again can be based on any of the subjects.

Eligibility criteria to enroll for the CFA level- I Exam

The candidate must have a valid International travel Passport, and one of the following –

  • The Candidate must have a bachelor’s degree or must be in final year student at the time of enrollment as you need to submit the documents of the same for your Level-II Exam.
  • 4 years of professional and fulltime work experience (not necessarily investment related).
  • Or a combination of work experience and education totaling 4 years.

Average Salary of a CFA Level- I cleared candidate

These figures are for the ones who have no prior work experience and have just started with their careers:

  • In India: Average Pay for a CFA Level 1 cleared in India is around 3-4 L.P.A. for someone who has just started out with his career. Note- getting into a core finance profile such as Valuations, Investment Banking, etc. right after CFA Level- I is not very easy and you might have to gain some prior work experience or right connections in the industry.
  • In US – Average Pay for CFA Level- I cleared in US is about $35,000 annually for a newbie who has just started out.

How much time is required to study for CFA Level- I

On average, it is estimated by the CFA Institute that a minimum 300-hour preparation is required for CFA Level- I, although this a very ballpark figure as it very much depends upon prior knowledge, experience, grasping skills and various other factors.

How to prepare for CFA Level- I

There is no one way to this, as everyone has their own methods and techniques of preparations, some like to go slow, whereas some rapidly catch up in the last couple of weeks.

Mostly the research suggests that the more mock papers one gives the more your chances increase of passing the exam, apart from mock exams the end of chapters questions from CFA Institute books are highly recommended, the CFA institute questions available online are also a good measure to test yourself before the big day.

Usually, you should consider giving at least 10-12 mocks before the exam and carefully examine the results of those mocks. The most important mocks are the CFA Institute website mocks and the mocks given by Kaplan Schweser, these are like the building pillars for you to prepare before the exam.  

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Things you should carry in the Exam hall:

  • BA Plus II Calculator/ Ba Plus II Professional Calculator
  • A set of Pencils
  • A rubber
  • A Pencil sharpener
  • A watch (Not a Smart Watch)
  • An extra battery for you calculator along with a screwdriver

Chartered Financial Analyst, in short CFA is one of the most coveted certifications which is meant for professionals looking for a job in CORE finance domains.

The Core Finance domains include Portfolio Management, Valuation, Corporate Finance, Equity Research and Investment Banking.

All the above are also known as High End or Elite Finance Job roles.

CFA Exam Eligibility Requirements

To enroll in the CFA Program and register for your first Level I exam, you must have an international travel passport and one of the following:

  • Undergraduate education: The candidate must have a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree or be in the final year of your bachelor’s degree program; or
  • Work experience: Four years of professional work experience (does not have to be investment related); or
  • A combination of professional work experience and education that totals at least four years (part-time positions do not qualify, and the four-year total must be accrued prior to enrollment).

Jobs and Careers after CFA

Following are the Major Profiles that you can aim for, after getting the Charter

  • Portfolio Manager – A Portfolio manager would manage and invest the funds of the client (Both individuals or entities) in a way to generate a required rate of return, keeping in mind the risk appetite of the client.
  • Equity Research Analyst – As the name specifies, an Equity research analyst conducts research on Industry specific Equity stocks and determines if they are worth investing in, by projecting their future values.
  • Mergers and Acquisition Analyst – As the name suggests, a Mergers and Acquisition analyst (M&A analyst) plays a role when there is a Merger of two companies, or when there is an acquisition
  • Credit Analyst – As the name specifies, a credit analyst is analyses the credit worthiness of an individual or an organization. In effect, he determines whether to extend credit to a particular entity or not.

CFA Exam Curriculum

Given below is the detailed breakup of the syllabus for CFA Exam, along with weights (Percentage) assigned to each topic.

TopicsLevel ILevel IILevel II
Ethical and Professional Standards15%10-15%10-15%
Quantitative Methods10%5-10%0%
Economics10%5-10%0%
Financial Reporting and Analysis15%10-15%0%
Corporate Finance10%5-10%0%
Portfolio Management6%5-15%40-55%
Equity Investments11%10-15%10-15%
Fixed Income Investments11%10-15%10-15%
Derivatives6%5-10%5-10%
Alternative Investments6%5-10%5-10%
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CFA Exam Dates

ParticularsLevel ILevel IILevel III
December attempt7 December 2020Not ApplicableNot Applicable
June attempt7 June 20206 June 20206 June 2020

CFA Exam Pattern

ParticularsLevel ILevel IILevel III
Format 100% MCQ100% MCQ50% item set, 50% MCQ
No. of question 240 MCQ120 MCQ10 item set 60 MCQ
Topic focus Investment toolsAsset valuationPortfolio management
DurationTwo exams on same day of three hours eachTwo exams on same day of three hours eachTwo exams on same day of three hours each

Exam Center Locations

244  Countires across the globe – Including Major countries such as India, USA, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada etc.

Check out the test locations in your country on the official website of CFA institute

CFA Exam Scholarships

At present, following scholarships are offered by CFA Institute:

  • Access Scholarship: For those who may be unable to afford the full price for the CFA Program enrollment and exam registration.
  • Women’s Scholarship: For women who do not qualify for other scholarships and have not yet registered for their next exam. 
  • Student Scholarship: For students who attend one of our Affiliated Universities.
  • Professor Scholarship: For full-time college or university professor.
  • Regulator Scholarship: For full-time, qualified employees of non-profit entities.
  • Media Scholarship: For full time employees of media organizations.

Salary of a CFA Charterholder  

Salary of a CFA Charterholder Varies across countries, Industries and Designations. The Average Salary of a CFA charterholder in Major countries is as follows – 

  • India – Rs 914K
  • United States – $89K
  • United kingdom – £49,355
  • Singapore – S$98K
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE) – AED 207K

Source : Payscale

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Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) –

What is the Salary of a CFA?

Salary of a CFA Charterholder Varies across countries, Industries and Designations. According to Payscale, the Average Salary of a CFA Charterholder is $89,000 in US and Rs.9,14,000 in India.

What are the Job opportunities after CFA?

The CFA charterholders majorly work in profiles such as Credit Analysis, Equity Research, Mergers and Acquisitions, Portfolio Management etc.

How to get the CFA charter?

A CFA Charter is offered by the CFA Institute to a candidate who has successfully passed all the three levels of CFA exam, and has at least four years of professional investment experience.

What is the fees for CFA exam?

Initial enrollment fees for CFA Exam is $450 USD. The additional fees for each Level of CFA is $700 USD for Early Registration, $1,000 USD for Standard Registration and $1,450 USD for Late Registration.