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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.