Keith Sharp's Rough Comments on Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The great increase in the number of financial analysts with the CFA charter has somewhat dimmed employment prospects for those relying only on the CFA qualification.  Also, financial analysis is vulnerable to outsourcing, e.g. to India (1, 2).  However, CFA  is a potentially useful addition to other qualifications and enhances anyone's resume.  The CFA qualification has gained a great deal of international acceptance.  Starting from e.g. a math or economics degree it takes maybe 750 hours study for the total of the three study 'Levels', spread over 2 1/2 years or more  Award of the CFA Charter requires, among other things, passing each Level and completing the experience requirements.  For an actuarial student the time commitment might be 30% less because of overlaps.  In particular, the topics covered by UTM, UTSC and UTSG  in ACT239, ACT 240, ACT244,  ACT 245, ACT 349,  ACTB40 and ACTB47 are largely required also for the CFA exams, which incorporate significant areas of finance, statistics and economics.

Considering portions (in italics) of the CFA syllabus:

Ethical and Professional Standards

This is 10%-15% of each of the three Levels and has little or no overlap with actuarial courses or Society of Actuaries exams.


This is up to 10%  of Levels I and II.  An actuarial student with Society of Actuaries VEE credit for economics might find that they are more than 50% prepared for this component of the CFA exams.

Quantitative Analysis:

This is 0%-12% the CFA exams.  Actuarial students who are strong in t-tests, F-tests, ANOVA, regression and time series analysis will find this component to be mostly familiar.

Financial Statement Analysis:

This is 25% TO 35% of the CFA exams,  Actuarial students who have taken an accounting course, or preferably two, will find portions of this material to be familiar.

Asset Valuation:

Is 30%-45% of each of Levels I, II and III.  The principles of taking present values in ACT 240, the knowledge of derivatives from ACT 245 and the finance background from ACT 349 provide a strong grounding for the Asset Valuation portion.  An actuarial student might find that he or she needs only half the preparation time of someone from another quantitative discipline.

Portfolio Management:

5%-15% of the CFA exams.  Much of this ,material will be new to an actuarial student,


Most CFA students are working in the investment industry, some for insurance companies or consultants.  A few (maybe 10%) are actuarial students or actuaries.  The Level I and Level II exams  have pass rates similar to some actuarial professional exams: 30%  for example.  They are not easy for anyone and there is no certainty of passing. But you may find them worth a try.  Note that CFA Institute. has requirements about obtaining a degree or work experience to be allowed to take Level I: see their site for precise rules.


The above comments include some rough estimates of study time requirements - please don't consider the above information to be of guaranteed accuracy. If interested, please use the information provided by the Society of Actuaries and the CFA Institute.