When Can I Start Using CFA Designation?

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For anyone who is considering the CFA charter, you may be wondering about a few things. One of the things that you may want to know is when you can start using the CFA designation. So, when can you start using the CFA designation?

According to a user on Reddit called re_me, you can start using CFA designator right after you have been approved by CFAI and your society. Apparently, there is a thing known as a CFA directory. In order to confirm, you are suggested to go there. When you are there, you can check your name if it is in it. The user adds that he got a confirmation email from CFAI the next day.

If you have not applied for the CFA charter yet, it is time for you to do it now. There are a number of requirements that you have to meet in order to become a CFA charterholder. These include:

  1. Pass all 3 CFA exams

Passing all 3 CFA exams is one of the most important things to get a CFA charter. This stage is also known as one of the hardest. Talking about the exams, each level has 2 sessions and there is also an optimal 30 minute break in between.

  • CFA Level 1: CFA Level 1 is the first exam of the series. This one is based on a computer. It is usually held four times in a year, including in February, May, August, and November. Given the 6 month rule, it is possible for the candidates to take it at most twice a year. This level is believed to be the easiest compared to the other two because it is the introduction to the CFA course. For those who have studied Economics in college, you will be familiar with a lot of material.
  • CFA Level 2: The CFA Level 2 is usually held three times a year, including in February, August and November in 2022 or May, August, and November from 2023 onwards. Among these three exams, it is known to be the hardest. On the brighter side, it only has half the number of questions compared to the CFA Level 1. Besides, the item set format allows much more in-depth questions to be set. In addition, another thing that makes it hard is the fact that the topics vary and it has a lot of materials to cover.
  • CFA Level 3: Unlike the first two exams, the CFA Level 3 has the essay question format in the first session. In case you have no idea how to answer or study for the essay format, it would be a bit challenging for you. As for the second session, it is similar to the CFA Level 2 format wise. It means it has multiple choice item sets.
  1. Get relevant work experiences

According to the official website of CFA Institute at cfainstitute.org, qualifying work experience refers to the kind of experience in activities described as follows:

  • Evaluating or applying financial, economic, and/or statistical data as part of the investment decision-making process involving securities or similar investments, which includes, but is not limited to, publicly traded and privately placed stocks, bonds, and mortgages and their derivatives; commodity-based derivatives and mutual funds; and other investment assets, such as real estate and commodities, if these other investment assets are held as part of a diversified, securities-oriented investment portfolio; or
  • Supervising, directly or indirectly, persons who practice such activities; or
  • Teaching such activities.

When is the time to get this kind of experience? Feel free to complete the work experience any time before you take the exams, during the time you are preparing and writing the exam or after you have completed a total of three levels of the exam. Do not forget to spend a minimum of 50% of your time in the investment decision-making process. Another to take note is that it is a must for your employment with the state job title to have been full time. As for the accrued employment for summer, internship and part time positions, they all do not qualify.

Then, how much work experience is required for CFA? According to the official website of CFA Institute, it is a must for you to have a minimum of 4,000 hours of experience, completed in at least 36 months or in a minimum of 3 years. It should be noted that qualified hours have to be directly related to the investment decision-making process or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process

  1. Send 2-3 professional references

Aside from these two, you will also have to get references for your CFA Institute membership application. All the things that you need include:

  • 2 professional sponsors if one of them is a current and regular member of the local CFA society you are applying to
  • 3 professional sponsors if no one of them is a current and regular member of the local CFA society you are applying to

It would be better for you if you get professional references from supervisors. However, if it is unlikely, you are suggested to choose other individuals, the ones who can describe and attest to your responsibilities in the investment decision-making process. These people will be asked to give some words on your work experience and professional character. In case you are wondering if you can serve as a reference for your own application, the answer to the question is obviously no.

  1. Apply to CFA Institute to become a CFA charterholder

The CFA Institute is the one that is responsible for maintaining and executing the CFA chatter, CFA exams, and curriculum. Two sponsors are required by every membership application to recommend you. One of them is a Regular Member of the CFA Institute and another is your current supervisor. There are two kinds of memberships, as follows:

  • Affiliate Membership: This one does not require exams or work experience.
  • Regular Membership: If you want to get this membership, you will have to pass your CFA Level 1 exam. Apart from that, you will also need to get at least 4,000 hours of work experience over a minimum of 36 months.
  • Regular Membership as a Charterholder: If you want to receive your charter, you will need to pass all 3 exams. In addition, you should also meet the Regular Member requirements.

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