The CFA Institute, which grants the chartered financial analyst (CFA) qualification, is adding material about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to its 2019 Level I and II exams. These topics will be covered along with general FinTech subjects, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and automated trading. Additional material, such as how crypto intersects with economics, may be added later. The Level III exam, the final section candidates are required to pass to obtain the CFA designation, does not appear to include cryptocurency or blockchain at this time.
Students can start studying with 2019 exam material when the CFA Institute releases it in August. The association recommends 300 hours of study time to prepare for the tests.
Stephen Horan, managing director for general education and curriculum at the CFA Institute, spoke to the durability and continued advancements in blockchain technology. "This is not a passing fad," he said, according to Bloomberg.
Some students seem to appreciate the additional exam topics as well. A financial economics student from Columbia University, Kayden Lee, commented on the benefit of covering crypto:
"It will be beneficial for us, since there's been a huge expansion and adoption of crypto in our investment universe."
Besides the Level I and II exams, the new topics will appear in CFA readings relating to professional ethics. Because there are various examples of fraud, market manipulation, money laundering, and theft among cryptocurrency exchanges, the tie-in with ethics may be an apt move on the CFA's part.
The CFA designation may not be for everyone, but it could allow investment professionals to obtain better jobs and move up the career ladder. In fact, some of the top employers of CFAs are major financial players: JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, to name a few. CFA charter holders are also part of a large, globally recognized professional network, including various regulators and universities around the world.
To earn the CFA qualification, candidates must pass the CFA Institute's multilevel exam – Levels I, II, and III – in succession (so no skipping levels or rearranging the order). Level I is offered every December and June, while II and III are only offered in June.
Many consider the exam to be quite tough. From 2008 to 2017, the average pass rate for Level I was 40 percent. In any given year, however, only 40 to 65 percent of test takers pass at each level.