The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program is a professional credential offered internationally by the American-based CFA Institute (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research, or AIMR) to investment and financial professionals. A candidate who successfully completes the program and meets other professional requirements is awarded the “CFA charter” and becomes a “CFA charterholder”.
As of July 2014, there are approximately 120,000 CFA members in 35 countries. The largest employers of CFA Charterholders are JP Morgan, UBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and RBC.
The CFA exams are widely considered to be extremely difficult, with pass rates sometimes below 50% for each of the three levels. It covers a broad range of topics relating to investment management, financial analysis, stocks, bonds and derivatives, and provides a generalist knowledge of other areas of finance.
The CFA Charter – although a professional, as opposed to academic credential – is benchmarked as comparable to a Master’s Degree by UK NARIC.