To practise accounting in any part of the world, you will need at least one professional qualification. Without professional qualifications, you will not be able to claim yourself as an accountant, especially in Malaysia.
As an accounting student, you may have heard about the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMA), Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) or any other professional accountancy bodies that recognised in Malaysia.
But, have you heard about CFA?
What is CFA?
Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA for short, is a professional qualification dedicated to investment specialists. The CFA Program is a graduate-level course with a self-study curriculum that can be completed at your own pace.
CFA Program is designed to prepare you with the knowledge and real-world skills needed to succeed in this competitive industry. Once you have completed the CFA Program and achieved the work experience requirements, you will be given the right to use the CFA designation.
Having the CFA designation allows you to work in senior and executive positions in multiple investment divisions such as investment management, risk management and asset management.
This program is usually completed by individuals who have finance, accounting, economics, or business backgrounds. However, if you are a student or trying to switch careers or looking to start a career in finance, accounting, economics, or business, CFA is a way to go.
The program consists of a three-part examination that evaluates the basics of investment tools, valuing assets, portfolio management and wealth planning. Below are the core curriculum topics covered in each examination.
- Ethical and Professional Standards
- Quantitative Methods
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Corporate Issuers
- Equity Investments
- Fixed Income
- Alternative Investments
- Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning
For the CFA examination Level I, the question format consists of multiple-choice questions. Meanwhile, for CFA Level II, you will sit for papers with vignette-supported multiple-choice questions. And in CFA Level III examinations, there will be vignette-supported essay questions and vignette-supported multiple-choice questions.
The CFA curriculum is designed by an Education Advisory Committee. The committee includes industry practitioners, security market regulators, university faculty and policymakers. The involvement of financial-thought leaders is crucial in helping to ensure that CFA candidates are equipped with the skills the industry wants.
This means once you completed the program, you will be able to practice financial knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios. Eventually, you will be able to advance your career.
How to apply for CFA?
If you decide to go with the CFA program, you can directly apply to the program through CFA Registration Page. The registration requires a two-step process.
Step 1 - Registration on the CFA website
This is where you have to complete your registration and make the essential payment.
Step 2 - Schedule your examination
Once you registered and the payment is being processed, there will be an option to schedule your exam in your personal CFA online account. This is where you schedule your exam date, time and place.
You must complete the examination schedule before the scheduling deadline to make sure you are successfully securing your exam place. Currently, CFA examinations are conducted on invigilated computer-based testing in more than 400 locations globally.
The new and updated invigilated computer-based testing format allows flexibility, accessibility and convenience for candidates. In fact, the computer-based testing format also supports more demand for the CFA Program.
However, there are a number of requirements that you need to meet before you decide to enrol on the CFA Program. Check out the requirements below to see if you are eligible to join CFA Program.
- Have either one of the following enrollment requirement:
- Complete Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent program
- Being a final year undergraduate student
- Have a combination of 4,000 hours of work experience and/or higher education
- Have an international travel passport
- Meet the Professional Conduct Admission Criteria
- Able to take the examination in the English language
- Live in a participating country
How to study CFA?
Just like CPA Australia, CFA also offers tools and resources to help you study for the examinations. By registering for the CFA Program, you will have access to:
Once you have registered for the CFA Program, you will be able to assess the dedicated study tools provided by the CFA Institute. The study tool is called the Learning Ecosystem.
With CFA’s comprehensive Learning Ecosystem, you will be able to obtain the official program curriculum, study sessions for each level, custom study plans, and more. You will also be able to assess practice questions based on the curriculum through the study tool.
The Learning Ecosystem application is available in both Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. You can download it and start learning immediately.
The application allows you to have a customised online learning program. The course study is broken down into smaller lessons to make it easier for you to digest the syllabus. There is also a progress tracker and study planner to allow you monitor your learning performance.
Apart from that, you will also be able to answer practice questions, mock examinations and learning games to help you prepare for the real examinations. Handy flashcards are also accessible in the application for you to review the concepts.
Prep Providers are other organisations that help CFA candidates with their studies. All prep providers have been approved and met the high standard set by the CFA Institute.
Although these Prep Providers have been approved by CFA Institute, each of them may offer different prep courses and schedules. Therefore, make initial research before you choose which Approved Prep Provided (APP) you want to go with.
You may also be able to apply for the scholarship provided by the CFA Institute. There are a number of scholarships available for selected individuals. These scholarships include a waived enrollment fee and discounted registration.
The Access Scholarship is allocated for individuals who may not be able to afford the program fees.
The Women’s Scholarship is only dedicated to women who are not eligible for other CFA scholarships and have not registered for the next examinations.
The Student Scholarship is designed specifically for students currently attending an affiliated university and who have not yet registered for their next exam. You may check out the affiliated university list before you apply for this scholarship.
The Professor Scholarship focuses on full-time college or university professors or administrators or department heads who teach a minimum number of credit hours at qualified institutions and have not yet registered for their next exam.
The Regulator Scholarship provides financial help for employees of financial regulators, central banks, securities commissions, qualifying stock exchanges, SROs and/or government entities.
This scholarship is specifically made for those entities that oversee or regulate operations, standards of practice or business conduct of the investment management industry and which have entered into a program agreement with the CFA Institute.
How much does CFA cost?
The cost for CFA Program depends on when you decide to register for the examination. Refer to the CFA website to keep track of the examination date and the registration datelines. The table below shows a breakdown of the cost for the CFA Program.
|Early Registration Fee||USD700|
|Standard Registration Fee||USD1000|
|Rescheduling Fee||USD250 |
The Enrollment Fee is a one-time payment. It is only paid when you register for the CPA Program and the Level I examination. You don’t have to pay the same fee for the subsequent exams.
There might be additional fees that occur sometimes during your CFA program, for example, the Rescheduling Fee. However, this fee is only applicable if you decide to reschedule your exam appointment in your exam window.
Compared to other accounting professional qualifications, CFA is fairly affordable. However, if you think going for an online accounting course through the Learning Ecosystem is not your cup of tea and you prefer to have a one-to-one session, it is time to opt for an accounting tutor.
You can go for an offline face-to-face learning session. However, with the advancement of technology these days, opting for online one-to-one tuition have its advantages too. But, where can you search for an online tutor?
Where to find a CFA online tutor?
Looking for an online tutor is less hassle now. With an online tutoring platform like Superprof, you can find tutors for just about any subject that you want. Plus, going for online lessons is much convenient and cost-effective too.
The average hourly fee for a tutor with a specialised accounting certificate on Superprof is around RM50. That is the average rate for the best accounting tutors that are awarded the Super Tutor and Ambassador badge.
If you have a smaller budget, you can always select tutors with Experienced or New badges. They usually charge you less.
In fact, almost all the tutors offer the first one hour lesson for free. Why not take that advantage and see whether the tutor you choose is the right one for you? Next thing you know, you are on your way to obtaining that CFA qualification!
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