In the interests of developing and maintaining professional standards of investment management, The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts administers a three-level examination program. At each progressive level, the C.F.A. candidate takes a five-hour examination covering seven basic areas — ethical and professional standards, accounting, quantitative techniques, economics, fixed income security analysis, equity security analysis and portfolio management.
The topic outline describing the program’s coverage at each of the three levels is prepared by the Institute’s Research and Publications Committee — 27 C.F.A.s drawn from brokerage firms, investment banks, investment companies, investment counselors, trust companies, insurance companies, financial consulting companies and universities. The topic outline provides guidance not only to the candidates studying for the examinations, but also to the 14 C.F.A.s on the Institute’s Council of Examiners who develop the three examinations.
The C.F.A. study program is continually modified to reflect changes in the body of professional knowledge. Although abrupt changes are rare, and present a challenge to a program having a continuous stream of candidates taking examinations over three or four years, the defined body of knowledge has undergone several major revisions since its inception. Continuing refinements assure the investing public, employers and fellow analysts that the recipient of the C.F.A. designation possesses all the knowledge fundamental to the practice of investment management.