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CFA for Non-Finance Students: How to Do it?

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CFA for Non-Finance Students: How to Do it?


When it comes to taking the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, having a background in the field undoubtedly provides a head start. But does that mean you cannot do it if you do not have an experience in the financial background?
Not at all! 

In this article, we will explore whether not having an academic background in Accounting or Finance puts you at a disadvantage when attempting the CFA exam. 

While a finance background might offer some familiarity with certain concepts, your success in the CFA exam is more heavily influenced by your determination and disciplined approach to studying. 

As a Reddit user says:

"I did it with no finance background, only a CS degree. Passed all three levels the first time. If you have good study skills and an analytical mindset, you should do well. I ended up going to B school after getting CFA - it worked pretty well." 

This comment underlines the idea that while a degree or some exposure to finance is beneficial, not having it should not stop you from attempting CFA. It ultimately depends on your commitment and analytical prowess. 

Let us look at how to get it right with some tips from our experts. 

Study Tips for Non-Finance Background Students Pursuing the CFA Exam

Understanding CFA Exam Levels

Before delving into your study plan, it's crucial to understand the differences between the CFA online exam levels. Take some time to read articles explaining the distinctions between Level I and Level II, as well as between Level II and Level III. This knowledge will guide your preparation strategy for each level.

Each level has a different approach and a question paper style. Make sure you understand these differences before you begin to study. While some papers test your fundamental skills, others focus on testing your application and interpretive thinking capacity. Each level pushes your limits. Knowing how they do it can help you prepare accordingly. 

Develop a Comprehensive Study Plan

Begin crafting your study plan at least 9 months before your scheduled exam date. While the CFA Institute suggests dedicating around 300 hours of study, consider investing approximately 360 hours or more. This extra time accounts for mastering concepts that finance professionals might already be familiar with. 

Allocate the initial 120 hours to reading and listening to lectures. 1FIN by IndigoLearn provides CFA Classes with the world’s no. 1 resource - Kaplan Schweser. Then, dedicate roughly 150 hours to working through practice questions. Reserve the final 90 hours for realistic practice and mock exams, which simulate actual exam conditions and help you gauge your readiness. These mock exams are also valuable for learning how to maintain composure on the actual exam day.

The CFA Institute has some free mock tests to work on. It can give you an idea of the expected questions in the exam. However, it should only be a rough guide for your study plan. 

Incorporate Learning Outcome Statements (LOS)

Mastering Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) is pivotal in shaping a robust study plan. Each LOS is paired with a command word, a strategic indicator of the cognitive demands it poses. Although these command words might not be explicitly present in exam questions, they dictate the depth of understanding required in your responses.

The CFA program employs seventeen official command words, each conveying a specific purpose. From "analyze" which dissects components, "calculate" which demands numerical prowess, to "describe" which articulates features using words, these words shape the essence of your exam responses.

Integrating these command words into your study journey makes sure you can cover the exam material in the most effective way possible. Align your study approach with the demands of each command word. 

Being thoroughly aware of the learning outcomes, you can ensure you tackle the questions most effectively and showcase your grasp of the subject matter. This strategy becomes a potent tool, enhancing your readiness for exam success.

Leverage CFA Exam Prep Courses

It is admirable to attempt to write the exam with self-preparation. But is it the most effective way? 

Our experts suggest the use of seasoned instructors and curated study materials provided by a reputable prep organization to improve your chances of success. You can also use this time to learn finance for non-finance students to bridge your gap between the topics. 

Enrol in a CFA exam prep course to help you stay on track and organized. Treat the course like you would a university class. Before attending, familiarize yourself with the relevant materials and develop a basic understanding of the topics that will be covered. Prepare a list of questions you'd like to ask during the course to maximize your learning experience. 

1Fin by IndigoLearn is a great option to begin with. Our partnership with Kaplan Schweser provides you with some of the best study materials on the topic.

Relate Concepts to Real-World Applications

For a better grasp of the material, consider how each concept applies in real-world scenarios. If you are feeling unsure, seek guidance from individuals with experience in the field. Engaging with resources like local CFA Societies, online forums, or financial education meetups can connect you with professionals who can provide practical insights.

Investing your time to network and learn from experienced people can help you gather a better understanding of the world you want to enter. 

Take Breaks to Combat Overwhelm

Let us not trivialize the exam and your efforts by calling it easy. There is a huge load of portions to cover. The formats are challenging, and the effort demanded from a candidate is huge. 

As you progress, you might experience moments of overwhelm. It is quite natural too. You might end up questioning the value of your efforts. When this happens, resist the urge to give up.

Instead, grant yourself a short break of a few days or even a full week. During this time, refrain from answering practice questions or opening your study materials. You'll be surprised at how even a brief respite can rekindle your motivation and enthusiasm for your studies.

By adhering to these study tips, non-finance background students can confidently navigate the challenges of the CFA examination and achieve their desired outcomes.

Why Consider Doing a CFA? 

Now that you know it takes more than just a financial background to nail the famed CFA exam, would you still take it? Here are some compelling reasons to embark on this journey. CFA opens up a wide range of opportunities, let us explore how it impacts those who do not have a financial background.

1. Diverse Career Opportunities

One of the standout advantages of passing the CFA exam, even with a non-finance background, is the array of career avenues it unlocks. It is common for CFAs to be in investment analysis roles. But they are also highly in demand in legal compliance areas. 

For instance, someone with a law degree and a CFA qualification becomes an invaluable asset in navigating the complex regulatory landscape of the financial industry. 

2. Mixing Skills for Success

The CFA program equips non-finance backgrounds individuals with a comprehensive understanding of financial concepts and investment strategies. When this knowledge is blended with existing skills and expertise, it results in a dynamic fusion that can profoundly impact diverse fields. 

For instance, an engineer or a healthcare professional equipped with a CFA designation gains the ability to approach financial analysis and decision-making through a unique lens. This diverse perspective not only enriches their capabilities but also contributes an unconventional viewpoint to the broader financial landscape.

3. Bringing Good Values to Finance

Individuals with non-finance backgrounds often possess a strong foundation in areas such as ethics, law, technology, or science. Integrating this value-driven approach with financial proficiency obtained from the CFA program can lead to a distinct and influential role in finance. 

Ethical considerations, compliance expertise, and a commitment to rigorous analysis can be used to create more responsible financial practices. This makes a positive impact on both organizations and the industry as a whole.

It's All About the Right Preparation & the Right Mindset 

In the pursuit of the coveted CFA designation, it becomes clear that there are many factors that are more important than having a financial background or experience. It is all dependent upon the meticulous preparation and the determined mindset of the candidate. The success of the candidate lies in the dedicated effort, the study plan and the strategic guidance the candidate receives. 

Regardless of your background, establishing and meeting study hour goals is paramount. The CFA exam demands a comprehensive understanding of the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS). This structured approach ensures a firm grasp of essential concepts, which can lead to exam success. 

Engaging with a reputable CFA prep provider, like the 1FIN program by Indigolearn, enhances efficiency. Experienced instructors guide candidates toward important topics, reducing the risk of wasted effort on irrelevant subjects. Our Kaplan Schweser materials make sure you get the best materials in the market. You do not have to waste your time going through bulky materials. 

To maximize your readiness, consider enrolling in the 1FIN program. With focused instruction and exam expertise, 1FIN by IndigoLearn streamlines your study efforts, increasing your chances of success

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1FIN by IndigoLearn
30-Oct-2023
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