December 1, 2017

Is The Curriculum For The CFA Credential Fit For Purpose?

“Enroll in the CFA Program to begin earning the Chartered Financial Analyst credential, the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world.”



Assessing the CFA Curriculum 

Few would argue with the CFA Institute’s claim that its CFA credential is the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world. The Institute claims over 145K members in 149 CFA Societies scattered around the globe. Earning the coveted CFA designation requires passing three challenging sets of exams (i.e., Levels I, II, and III), which require absorbing massive amounts of theoretical and applied information at each Level. In total, the study material adds up to some 9,000 pages organized in six volumes for each of the three Levels. The material divides into four broad subject areas: Ethics and Professional Standards, the Market for Investment Management Services, Investment Tools, and Portfolio Management.

This background sets up the purpose of this Letter. Earlier this year, as a member of the CFA Institute’s Future of Finance Advisory Council, I asked how curriculum material for the CFA credential was assembled and updated…..and more specifically, how future-oriented it was. The Institute’s response was creative. A few weeks after I posed the question, a 50-pound FEDEX package arrived on my doorstep with all 18 volumes containing the 2017 version of the reading material for the Levels I, II, and III CFA examinations. I took the Institute’s response as an invitation to answer my own ‘how future-oriented?’ question, and do so in this Letter.

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