The offer of courses and trainings in areas such as financial and investment consulting is very wide in Poland. You can choose from workshops, lectures or remote learning or via the Internet. It is, however, difficult to say clearly how many of them provide reliable knowledge that the participants will be able to use successfully in their daily work, and the certificate of participation in such a course or training will provide opportunities for career development and promotion. However, there are those that guarantee all this.

One of the most valuable certificates, which opens doors to financial institutions all over the world, is obtained after passing the CFA exam, that is Chartered Financial Analyst. It is one of the most prestigious and internationally recognized professional titles, which can be obtained as a financial advisor, investment advisor or employee of the broadly understood banking and finance. What is CFA, how to pass this exam and what can you gain from it? Everyone working in finance should read the answers to these questions.

CFA Institute - association of financial and investment advisors

In 1947, the financial professions of Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia decided that they could achieve more through mutual cooperation, exchange of knowledge and experience. So they founded an association that was to associate financial advisers, investment advisers, as well as banking and finance employees. Their aim was not only to multiply the profits of the institutions they represented, but also to develop the most effective working methods, as well as a code of conduct and professional ethics.

The result of this cooperation was the creation of the Chartered Financial Analyst certificate, or CFA. The exam, after which the certificate is awarded for the first time was organized in June 1963. It was attended by 284 candidates. Already then, immediately receiving the certificate was a confirmation of the highest skills, knowledge and professional ethics.

A lot has changed since then. First of all, the organisation - CFA Institute - has evolved from a local association into a global institution. Suffice it to say that its members live in 150 countries around the world and branches have been established in 60 countries. The CFA exam itself has also undergone changes. In June 2017 as many as 172 thousand people took it. The formula has also been changed a little bit - now it is a three-stage exam, and each degree means a certification of even higher competences. The fact that, just as in the beginning, the CFA certificate is a prestigious distinction, which gives a wide range of opportunities for development and promotion, and also opens the door to work in the largest financial institutions around the world, has not changed.

What does the CFA exam check?

It has already been mentioned that the CFA exam has changed its formula over the years. Today it is a three-stage exam. Each part can be taken at most once a year, so in order to get the highest CFA certificate you have to spend at least three years (the exception is Part I, which can be taken twice a year). It is also worth saying that not everyone can take such an exam. It assumes that the candidate already has basic knowledge about financial or investment advice, and the knowledge on the CFA exam is a significant extension of it. Therefore, the candidate must have at least a bachelor's or engineer's degree, and may also be a student of the last year of first degree studies. The CFA Institute also awards practical knowledge, so 4 years of professional experience also gives a pass to the exam. It is also worth mentioning that the exams always take place in June, except for the first degree exam, which is organized in June and December.

Dividing the exam into three levels in practice means that the first level checks the knowledge in the broadest range. These include financial mathematics, statistics and probability, micro- and macro-economic issues, analysis of financial statements, investment portfolio management and similar "hard" knowledge, but also competences in professional ethics are checked. The two higher levels test more detailed knowledge of financial statements, investment portfolio management and others, which all financial and investment advisers will be able to use in their daily work.

How to prepare for the CFA exam

CFA Institute makes sure that the certificate is prestigious, so you have to be prepared for a big effort to get it. Suffice it to say that the CFA pass rate ranges from 40-50%. In Poland, only about 420 people can boast of holding the CFA certificate. In practice, preparing for this exam on your own is a very difficult task. The best solution for a financial advisor or investment advisor who wants to obtain the CFA certificate is to enroll in a special preparation course. Choosing it is worth relying on the experience of the institution that offers it, because it is a guarantee of high substantive preparation and reliability of trainers. It is also worth choosing such a course in terms of non-educational offer - for example, the number of classes, online contact, as well as a very useful possibility to take a trial exam. Thanks to this, this real exam will certainly not surprise you. An example of a course offer preparing for the CFA exam is the one you can find at this link -,52/. Finally, it should be mentioned that the CFA exam is conducted in English, so in order to take it, you need to know the language at an advanced level.

CFA - is it worth it?

There are 120,000 CFA-certified people worldwide. Most of them are recognized financial and investment advisors who work in the largest financial institutions and hold high positions there. According to the CFA Institute, as many as 13% of Poles who hold CFA hold senior management positions, 11% are involved in corporate financial analysis and 10% are bank investment analysts. In general, more than 90% of all CFA people in Poland work in the broadly understood financial industry and have the opportunity to use their knowledge in everyday professional practice.

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