CFA (Chartered financial analyst) is one of the of the most coverted
financial programs offered by AIMR (Association for Investment Management and
Research). It is a three year program consisting of three annual exams held in
the first week of June (AIMR plans to offer the level I exam twice a year , in
June and December, staring 2003). The examinations are held around the world
(Tokyo is one of the test centers). For details of the CFA program see

For whom

Though the CFA program can be taken by any individual with a minimum of a
bachelor’s degree (
) , for most IT
professionals the dilemma is whether this program will help them in the career.
In my opinion those IT professionals who aspire to do professional equity
research should pursue this program. Before you register for the program
remember, CFA is a rigorous course which may take much of your time during the
duration of the program.


The Level 1 exam is being offered in June and December staring 2003.
) Level II and Level III are
offered once a year in June. To appear for the exam in June , you need to apply
by September of the previous year. (please refer to the aimr website
 for the most updated deadline
dates). The sooner you apply the better as the registration fees increases after
a certain date. There are two ways to apply for the exam.

You can register online for the exam
). In my opinion this is the most
convinient way.

You can download the “Registration and Enrollment Package” from (You can also request AIMR to send the
“Registration and Enrollment Package” by mail)

Exam Preparation (Level 1)

In my opinion, 8-12 hrs per week for 5-6 months of study is necessary. The
“Study guide”, send by AIMR (after your registration), list the syllabus in
great detail. It list the book titles which are part of the CFA syllabus. All
the recommended text books (mentioned in the study guide) for the CFA program
can be bought from
Various companies provide study material
for CFA preparation. I have used Schweser’s material
and was very satisfied. However remember that study
material is only a supplement to the actual text books recommended by CFA.
Though you should try and complete the whole syllabus, in my opinion, “Financial
Statement Analysis”/ “Ethical and professional standards”/”Portfolio
Management”/”Quantitative Analysis” sections are very important. Try to complete
them in the first 2-3 months of your study. The “Asset Valuation” section is
very bulky and carries around 30% (according the AIMR study guide). Be very
careful in spending your preparation time on this section. You may end up
spending too much time on this section for very few exam points.

Just before the exam

All along your exam preparation, prepare notes. This will help you quickly
revise the whole syllabus during the last week before your exam (you will not
have the time to look at all the text books in the last week). Instead of you
preparing the notes yourself you can buy “Flash cards” from Schweser (or any
other company). (I did not use “Flash cards” so I cannot comment on they
quality. You should have completed all the syllabus 2 weeks in advance. Avoid
reading any new part of the syllabus in the last 2 weeks. Concentrate on
revising the parts of the syllabus you have already covered. As with any other
exam , take a good nights sleep before the exam.

Exam day

Try to work through the questions as quickly as you can. Answer those questions
first which you know the best. There will be questions for which you will take
long to solve or for which you don’t know the answer right away, just leave
those questions, you can back to them later. Keep track of time.

Happy CFA preparation and Best of luck for the exam !!!



This article is written by Mr. Abed Sharieff. He passed all the 3 CFA levels in first attempt.
He is working for an investment bank in Tokyo.