This article on How to pursue CFA from India has been authored by Neha Sharma who herself is a Qualified Chartered Financial Analyst

With the advent of Globalisation and easy flow of money the Demand for Finance Professionals has been increasing steadily. Whether it is Investment Banking or Portfolio Management or Foreign Exchange Management – the demand for Finance Professionals has been zooming rapidly in the past few years.

The reason for this increasing demand is that all Top Management Decisions are primarily Financial Decisions and one wrong decision can swing the Profits into Losses. As most of the Top Management Decisions involve huge Financial Transactions – Companies don’t prefer to take any risk when it comes to such decisions and prefer to employ the best brains and also pay them accordingly. It is a known fact that the Salaries of Finance Professionals is the highest as compared with other Professionals.

With such luring salaries on offer – most of the professionals across the Globe have a high preference for Finance Courses like CFA, MBA etc. The same is the case in India with a high no. of candidates preferring to choose Finance Related Post Graduate Degree which could land them into a high paying job. And this is one of the most important reason for Growth of MBA (Finance) in India in the past few years.

But is a 2 year MBA (Finance) degree comprehensive enough to give you an insight of the Finance Related Concepts? The simple answer to this is NO. MBA Finance only teaches you the basics of Finance Related Concepts using Case Studies but does not take you to the core of Financial Domain and its Concepts.

As the MBA Finance degree is not comprehensive enough to take you to the core of Financial Domain, many finance enthusiasts prefer to opt for a degree which gives an in-depth coverage of the Financial World i.e. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).


ICFAI University was earlier awarding degree for the CFA Course in India. But the CFA Designation is a trademark of the CFA Institute – USA, which led to infringement of Trademark. A Case was filed for infringement of copyright by the CFA Institute and was pending in the Supreme Court. But while, this case was pending in the Supreme Court, ICFAI continued to run its CFA Program.

However, in July 2012, ICFAI and CFA Institute entered in an out of court settlement according to which the ICFAI will stop awarding CFA Degrees to new candidates and would only be awarding the degree to candidates who have already registered for this course with ICFAI. Refer: Official Announcement

This was a long pending case originally filed in the year 1997 and was finally resolved in 2012. Read the whole story


The Chartered Financial Analyst Degree in the US is awarded by the CFA Institute ( and to attain this degree, a candidate has to clear 3 Levels of Examinations popularly known as Level I, Level II, Level III

The Degree awarded by this Institute is one of the toughest attainable degrees with only 38% of the Students who appear managing to clear Level I, 39% managing to Clear Level II and 46% managing to clear Level III (all these figures are approximate and may vary from year to year).

To be eligible to enrol for this Course, a candidate should possess a minimum of Bachelor’s Degree and 4 years of Work Experience. If the student does not have 4 years of Relevant Work Experience – he can still appear for the Exams but the CFA Charter would only be awarded on successful completion of 4 years of Qualified Work Experience.

The Chartered Financial Analyst Degree awarded is an Internationally acclaimed degree with the Average starting salary after successful completion of this course being in the range of $60,000-$1,00,000 p.a. in the US. Although the minimum educational qualification for the CFA course is a bachelor’s degree, many MBA-Finance Students from top B-Schools like IIM’s also pursue this Degree alongside their MBA or on completion of their course which is a clear indication of the value of this course.

The Self Study based model of this course enables Candidates to continue with their full time jobs and are only required to appear for Exams. The Exams are conducted in the month of June and December every year at various centres across the Globe. Unlike CPA,   Students enrolled for this course don’t have to go to US to appear for Exams and can appear for the Exams from the designated centres in their own country.

About the CFA Course

The Degree awarded by the CFA Institute, US is also referred to as International CFA as this degree has International presence with it being recognised in more than 138 Countries across the Globe. This International CFA Course can be undertaken from most of the Countries across the Globe and the Course has been structured in such a manner that Professionals from across the Globe can learn and apply the same in all Countries.

The CFA Institute which was formed in the year 1963 has awarded the Charter to more than 1,00,000 Professionals across the Globe and is the most respected and recognised Investment Credential in this World. A large chunk of these professionals are currently working as Portfolio Manager, Research Analysts etc. Mutual Funds and other Investment Companies are the largest recruiters of Chartered Financial Analysts with their average starting salary being in the range of $60,000-$1,00,000 in the US

Enrolment for International CFA

International CFA is a Graduate Level Self Study Course and to attain this Charter a Candidate should undergo 3 Levels of Exams

  1. Level I (held in June and December every year)
  2. Level II (held in June every year)
  3. Level III (held in June every year)

Although this a Graduate Level course with the minimum eligibility being Graduation, the CFA Charter is awarded only after successful completion of 4 Years of Work Experience. To become a member of this Institute, a Candidate shall apply for Membership after clearing all the Levels, attaining 4 Years of Work Experience and by adhering to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

CFA Exams

To attain the International CFA Charter, a Candidate should undergo 3 Levels of Exams (Level I, Level II & Level III) in sequential order. In order to ensure global consistency, both in administering the Exam Questions and in Grading the Candidates Answers, the Exams are conducted in English Language only

The International CFA Program is not a theoretical academic program but is rather a course that focuses on the Investment Management Professional from the standpoint of a practitioner. The following is the Roadmap for attaining an International CFA Recognition

International CFA Level I Exams are based on a Candidate’s basic knowledge and comprehension questions focussing on Asset Valuation. CFA Level II Exams further emphasize on analysis along with Application while Level III Exams focus on synthesizing basic knowledge with evaluation tools and analytical methods for effective portfolio management.

CFA Level I Exam is a Multiple Choice Exam with 3 options to each question. The CFA Level I Exams are conducted in the month of June and December every year and consist of 240 Questions to be completed in 6 hours (2 sessions of 3 hours each). All questions are free-standing i.e. independent of each other with 3 options to each question. All the Questions are equally weighted and there is no negative marking for wrong answers.

CFA Level II Exams which are conducted in the month of June every year are a combination of Item Set Questions only i.e. Case Study based Questions. 20 Case Studies of 6 Questions each are asked in 2 Sessions of 3 hours comprising of 10 Case Studies each. To answer each question, Candidates have to refer to the Case study to which it belongs which describes the various hypothetical Investment Challenges.

CFA Level III Exams which are also conducted in June every year consists of Essay-type Questions, and 10 Case Studies of 6 questions each. The constructed response portions of the CFA Level III examination (morning session) include questions with varying structures and point values and typically have several parts related to a case study that describes an investment challenge.

The following Video prepared by the CFA Institute interviews various Chartered Financial Analysts who share how this course helps you to climb up the Corporate Ladder

International CFA Passing Criteria

The International CFA Exam Results are declared in the form of a Score Report which is intended to be fairly unspecific. The Score Report only declares a Pass/Fail Result and the range within which his or her performance for each topic area falls: below 50%, between 50% and 70%, and above 70%. Additionally, failing candidates are informed about their decile rank within the body of failing candidates.

The International CFA Exams are challenging with only 38% Students managing to clear the CFA Level I Exams, 39% Students Clearing the Level II and 46% Students clearing Level III. Level II and Level III Pass Percentages are computed taking into account that the Candidate has already cleared the previous level and this figures are approximate figures with the actual pass percentage varying every year.

The Fees for undertaking the International CFA Course varies from $700 to $1000 for each Level Exam depending on the date on which the Candidate registers and an Additional Program Enrolment Fees of $400-$500 for one time enrolment. Interested Students can enrol for this course by visiting the website of the CFA Institute i.e.

Should you opt for the CFA Course?

Many students are confused on whether they should opt for the CFA Course or not. Some are also confused about whether to opt for the CFA Course or opt for some other course like FRM, MBA (Finance), CPA, ACCA etc.

All these are professional courses and before opting for these courses, the student should know the work profile of all such professionals and should opt for such courses only if such kind of work excites them. You would be doing such kind of work throughout your life and therefore you should be certain if such work excites you and opt for the course accordingly.

Simply opting for the course which offers high salaries is not a good career decision because it is not the course which decides your career growth but your energy and knowledge about the subject matter which decides your Career Growth.