I'm seeing more and more people take the CAIA
What is the CAIA Exam?
Sometimes described as the "CFA for everything besides stocks and bonds," CAIA is the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designation. It is a two-level exam that focuses on, as the title suggests, alternative investments. Per the CAIA Association, the different levels focus on:
Assesses your understanding of various alternative asset classes and your knowledge of the tools and techniques used to evaluate the risk-return attributes of each one.
Assesses how you would apply the knowledge and analytics learned in Level I within a portfolio management context. Both exams include segments on ethics and professional conduct.
The Association's website has more details on the CAIA curriculum.
How Does CAIA Compare to CFA?
While both designations involve challenging exams, there are many differences between them. A related post, What is Better: CFA, MBA or CAIA? give a good overview of these differences.
How Useful is Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Designation?
With CAIA being a newer designation, and one that focuses only on alternative investments, it may not have the same recognition that the CFA does. WSO community members offer their perspective on the designation:
- CAIA may be helpful for manager research/Fund of Funds
- Its good if you have interest in joining the AI teams at asset managers or wealth managers or working on asset allocation teams for pensions endowments family office roles etc.
- The only people I have seen with CAIA are client service or sales type people that have some indirect involvement with hedge funds / other alternative investment products, more from a marketing type standpoint
- It's good for pension asset allocation roles and AI focused teams / specialists at asset managers
WSO user @davidsandler , who has taken both the CFA and CAIA exams shares:
In short, CAIA is perfect for:
- portfolio construction & advisory
- multi asset investing
- macro investing
- figuring out what you want to specialise in
- fundraising / sales at buy-side institutions
It's no good for:
- a career in bottom-up stock picking
- traditional finance routes (equities/bonds)
- opening doors (it's not well known enough...yet)
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