Among the credentials that financial professionals may hold, none are more highly regarded than or as rigorously focused on investment knowledge as the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation. The CFA charter is awarded to a very select group of investment advisors who have:
- Mastered a rigorous curriculum that requires hundreds of hours of study over at least three years and have passed three increasingly difficult levels of examination.*
- Demonstrated their mastery and expertise in applying this knowledge across a broad range of investment-related subjects.**
- Committed to being held to the highest ethical standards in all dealings with investor clients.
Charterholders must comply with the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, which requires them always to place the client’s interests first, to maintain independence and objectivity, and to serve with integrity and honesty.
The idea for the CFA designation took shape with Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett’s mentor and teacher. Graham desired to create a professional designation for security analysts similar to those witnessed in “fields of accounting, law, medicine and other professions.”
Today, Investors recognize the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis. The magazine The Economist referred to the CFA charter as the “gold standard,” writing that:
[The] qualification is roughly equivalent to a specialized postgraduate finance degree, including a mixture of economics, ethics, law, and accountancy… Whereas there are tens of thousands of finance degrees available around the world, ranging from the excellent to the worthless, there is only one CFA, managed and examined by an American association of financial professionals, the CFA Institute.
* The average passing rate for a CFA examination is 40-50%, and it is estimated that less than 20% of candidates who begin the program eventually earn the designation.
** Program subject areas include: ethics, probability and statistics, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity valuation, fixed income valuation, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management.