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GUEST COMMENT: How to leverage the fact that you may have dabbled in the CFA on your CV

But are you just a candidate?

You’ve passed the CFA Level 1 exam, congratulations!  You may be thinking of starting Level 2. You may also be thinking how can you best leverage your newfound status to spruce up your CV.

However, before you rush into anything, you need to bear in mind that the ethics and professional standards set up by the CFA Institute are very rigorous when it comes to mentioning the CFA on your CV. If you’re not careful, you could easily find yourself in violation of their by-laws and could be sanctioned by CFA Institute.

What you need, therefore is a detailed guide to precisely what you can and can’t say as you progress through the CFA qualifications to becoming a Charterholder. This is it.

Are you a candidate, or have you passed?

The key thing that you need to know is that at each stage of your CFA qualification process, you have to clearly state whether you are a candidate, or you have passed. You can only state that you are a candidate if you actually have registered for the exam, i.e. passing Level I does not automatically grant you "Level II candidate" status.

Therefore, if you’ve registered for CFA Level I, you can write “CFA Level I Candidate.”

If you’ve passed CFA Level 1, you can write, “Passed CFA Level 1.”

However, you can’t write “CFA Level II Candidate” unless you’ve actually registered for the Level II exam.

This applies all the way up to the Level III exam.

Note that I have not covered finer points such as what should you EXACTLY write on your CV come charterholder status, (e.g. not using the phrase "John is a CFA" and all the rest). I'm going to assume you already know this from your Ethics studies - if not, you should brush up on Ethics!

What about if you've passed all three level of the CFA but don’t have the four years’ mandatory work experience?

In this situation, you might be tempted to write, “CFA Charter Pending.” Don’t.

You cannot state, or even vague imply that you are a CFA charterholder, until you are actually one. To state "CFA Charter Pending", or something similar is a violation of the CFA Institute Ethics and Professional Standards, and you could be sanctioned by CFA Institute for it.

You are, however, allowed to state on your CV "Passed all three levels of the CFA Program [date optional], and may be awarded the charter upon completion of the required work experience.".

What about completion dates? Should you put in a date when you passed, or when you expect to obtain your CFA charter?

The key thing to bear in mind is this: you can only state fact, not projections. If you wish to state the dates of when you passed your exams, that's absolutely fine. What you cannot do is to post a date where you 'expect' to pass a certain level or obtain your charter. Dates in the past are fine, dates in the future are not allowed.

To clarify matters, here's a handy infographic I've put together for you.

A version of this article first appeared on the blog 300 Hours, which is written by a CFA Charterholder based in the UK.

AUTHOR300 Hours Insider Comment
  • gu
    3 August 2012

    Boring article that regurgitates the issue brought up in the Ethics section of the CFA level 1 exam.

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