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Expert tips to crack the CFA exam

Last updated on: December 01, 2016 16:00 IST

In an online chat with readers, Vidhu Shekhar, country head - India, CFA Institute shared some crucial tips

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program is a professional examination that tests aspirants for their analytical skills and knowledge in the core areas of finance.

The program covers topics on investment management, financial analysis, stocks, bonds and derivatives, which are of interest to finance professionals.

Lakhs of students register for the exam from across the country, however, only a few thousands are selected.

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, announced that of the 1,37,790 candidates who sat for CFA Level I, II and III June 2016 exams globally, 12,117 were from India.

India comprises the third largest number of exam takers after the United States (31,501) and China (26,758).

The number of candidates in the country grew by approximately 23 percent as compared to December 2014.

Foe the benefit of readers, Rediff.com had organised a chat with Vidhu Shekar, country head-India, CFA Institute on Thursday, December 1, 2016 between 3 pm and 4 pm IST.

For those who missed the chat, here's the unedited transcript:


Vidhu Shekhar: Hello everyone, I wish you all the best for the exam on Saturday. I hope you are feeling well prepared and well rested for the big day.


Vaydha Bamse: Is it better to appear for the exam in India or should I try abroad? One of my friends suggests that chances of cracking it internationally are much higher. Pls comment

Vidhu Shekhar: The exam is exactly the same everywhere. It does not matter where you sit for the exam.


chandekar muley: How CFA institute will verify our work experience? I have worked for two different employers, so shall they verify from each. I also have heard that verification is done on random basis. Does that all hold true?

Vidhu Shekhar: You need two people to sponsor your membership application. Ideally, one of these should be your supervisor and the other should be an existing charter holder.


Panse Kaisare: What is the difference between the three levels of CFA in terms of syllabus and difficulty level of exams?

Vidhu Shekhar: The emphasis in each level is different. L1 requires understanding and applying basic tools and concepts with a focus on knowledge and comprehension, L2 focuses on asset valuation and requires analysis and application of these concepts, and L3 focuses on portfolio management and tests your ability for synthesis and evaluation. The topical weights are different at each level.


annu dwivedi: What kind of jobs can I get, once I complete a CFA course?

Vidhu Shekhar: CFA charter holders work in a wide variety of investment management roles. These could be securities analysis/research, portfolio management, wealth advisory, risk management.


Gitika Sharan: What would be the main reason for candidates not passing the CFA exams? Are they going wrong in their approach? Request you to share some insights here...

Vidhu Shekhar: Main reason for not passing is inadequate preparation. It is best to study from the original course materials provided by CFA Institute and not to rely solely on prep course materials. If you complete all readings in time and give yourself enough time for mock exams you should be able to pass.


DS Parihar: what is basic qualification for CFA

Vidhu Shekhar: You should be in the final year of your undergraduate degree program in order to take Level 1. You should be a graduate at the time that you take Level 2.


bipin patel: Is Indian CFA is accepted anywhere?

Vidhu Shekhar: CFA is a global designation and the CFA exam is the same around the world. There is no such thing as Indian CFA.

There is only one CFA credential and that is standard across the world.


Amit Iglesias: Mr Shekhar, I have been appearing for the exam since three years now and I find it challenging to crack. Could you pls share some essential tips?

Vidhu Shekhar: No secrets or short cuts - I would suggest studying from the CFA study materials and following a proper schedule. If you feel the need, you can join coaching provided by any of the approved prep course providers.


rahul: Sir, I work in the accounts department of a private firm. I would like to know how the exam can help me progress in my career.

Vidhu Shekhar: After CFA, you may be able to apply to other roles in your company or find jobs outside of your current company.


Jaykar Kajale: Some has told me that in order to get the charter I need to have signatures from two charter holders. Is this information true?

Vidhu Shekhar: Yes. That is correct. After you pass level 3 and you have filed your work experience, you need to provide referrals by two charter holders. You can also give the reference of your immediate manager for one of the two references. Please write to CFA Society India if you do not know anyone who would refer you.


AMANDEEP SINGH: Sir at present I am not working. Though I have nine years of work experience of which 6 years are in the banking industry. Am I still eligible to take CFA exam? Do I need to get any documents from my previous employer, because I did not leave the company on a good note?

Vidhu Shekhar: Yes, Amandeep. You would be eligible if you are a graduate. You do need any recommendations from your previous employer.


Salim: Sir how to prepare for the exam? What is the process? How to apply?

Vidhu Shekhar: Sign up early and prepare from the CFA study materials according to the study plan. Do the end of chapter practice questions. Once you have covered the whole syllabus take the mock exams.


Vipin Jain: Can a B Tech IT Engineer do CFA and have a career in that

Vidhu Shekhar: Yes, many engineers pursue CFA and work in the investment management industry.


Sabeha Shams: Hello sir, my question is how CFA exam will benefit me if I am looking to be an investment professional. Is CFA courses recognized in India or would I have to also go for any extra qualification

Vidhu Shekhar: Hi Sabeha, Yes, the CFA credential would be of great value if you are looking for a career in the investment profession. CFA is widely recognized in India. Your career prospects would also depend on any other qualification or work experience that you may have.


pattabhi rao: I am a science graduate. Can I take CFA Level 2 exam. Am I eligible directly?

Vidhu Shekhar: Yes, Pattabhi. You are eligible to take the CFA exam.


Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Reuters