Top Professional Finance Certifications

What are the Top Finance Certifications for Financial Professionals?

Christopher Haynes

Reviewed by

Christopher Haynes

Expertise: Asset Management | Investment Banking


December 15, 2022

When breaking into the world of finance, having professional finance certifications on your resume can greatly enhance your employability and overall knowledge in the field. In addition, they tell prospective employers that you are committed to the industry, hard-working, smart, and will maintain the professional and ethical standards the certifying bodies require their members to uphold.

Top Professional Finance Certifications

There are a number of different certifications and designations available to pursue, so before choosing one randomly, it is essential to understand what they cover, what you hope to achieve, and your own individual circumstances. 

Here is a list of the top certifications available for finance professionals to pursue.

  1. Chartered Financial Analyst 
  2. Certified Public Accountant 
  3. Financial Risk Manager 
  4. Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst 
  5. Certified Investment Management Analyst 
  6. Certified Financial Planner 
  7. Chartered Financial Consultant 

This article will walk you through all of these certifications to expand your understanding and decide which one might be the best for your current situation.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®️)

The CFA is a globally recognized professional designation awarded by the CFA Institute, a global not-for-profit professional organization that provides professionals in finance with a highly rigorous education. 

The charter is awarded to candidates who demonstrate competence in investment analysis and asset management through both exams and relevant professional experience. 

Completing all the requirements and obtaining the CFA charter will not only demonstrate technical and professional competency in financial analysis, investment management, securities, ethics, and business acumen but also showcase the candidate as a committed and intellectual individual who was able to complete arguably one of the hardest to achieve designations in the world. 

Also, the job prospects of candidates who have completed the program are quite promising, especially in investment analysis roles such as portfolio management and equity research and consulting and executive positions such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Exam Structure

The CFA curriculum is based on three levels of study. Level I teaches the basics of portfolio management, financial reporting and analysis, and asset valuation. Level II focuses on tools for asset valuation, such as quantitative methods and economics.

Finally, level III emphasizes portfolio management and performance attribution. The topics covered and their weightage in the curriculum for each level in 2022 are illustrated below:

CFA Curriculum
TopicsLevel ILevel IILevel III

Ethics and Professional Standards

15% - 20%

10% - 15%

10% - 15%

Quantitative Methods

8% - 12%

5% - 10%



8% - 12%

5% - 10%

5% - 10%

Financial Reporting and Analysis

13 %- 17%

10% - 15%


Corporate Issuers

8% - 12%

5% - 10%


Equity Investments

10% - 12%

10% - 15%

10% - 15%

Fixed Income

10% - 12%

10% - 15%

15% - 20%


5% - 8%

5% - 10%

5% - 10%

Alternative Investments

5% - 8%

5% - 10%

5% - 10%

Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

5% - 8%

10% - 15%

35% - 40%

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The CFA exams are considered some of the toughest in the world. In fact, the pass rate in the August 2021 sitting was:

  • Level 1: 26%
  • Level 2: 29%
  • Level 3: 39%

According to the CFA Institute Candidate Examination Results in 2021, a total of 167,566 people appeared for exams. Of them, only 56,230 passed, bringing the average pass rate of all CFA exams in 2021 at 32.6%. 

That is an insanely low number for a pass rate! 

To put it in perspective, imagine you were taking the test with 9 of your friends. Statistically, only 3 people in your friend group will pass the test, with the rest having to either quit on gaining the designation or retake the exam.

So if you think you have the strength, commitment, and perseverance to take and complete all three exams, as well as fulfill the other requirements to obtain the CFA designation, visit the CFA Institute website here to learn more about how you can become a CFA charterholder, and visit the WSO page ‘Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®)’ to learn more about the program in general.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA®️)

A CPA is a professional designation provided to licensed accounting professionals for completing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam) and meeting other requirements.

Is developed and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and administered in conjunction with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)

What are the exam structures and requirements of the CPA designation?

The Uniform CPA Exam is comprised of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). A candidate must complete all four sections within 18 months while also attaining a minimum score of 75 in each one to receive their CPA. 

A candidate must also have one year of work experience (approximately 2,000 hours) in accounting, auditing, taxation, or attestation, verified by a licensed CPA. The designation helps maintain professional and ethical standards in the accounting industry, ensuring that all CPAs adhere to the regulatory requirements to maintain their CPA. 

Further, after receiving the CPA license upon completing the exam sections and the requirements, holders must take continuing professional education courses annually to maintain updated professional and ethical standards and retain their license.

Each section of the exam has 5 tests, each containing a set of questions. The types of questions that will be asked consist of: 

  • Multiple choice questions (MCQ)
  • Task-based simulations (TBS)
  • Written communication tasks (WCS)

The breakup of these questions for each section is:

  • AUD: 72 MCQs, 8 TBS, 0 WCS
  • BEC: 62 MCQs, 4 TBS, 3 WCS
  • FAR: 66 MCQs, 8 TBS, 0 WCS
  • REG: 76 MCQs, 8 TBS, 0 WCS

The CPA exam areas and weighings for each section are as follows:

Auditing and Attestation:

  • Area I: Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles – 15-25%
  • Area II: Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response – 20-30%
  • Area III: Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence – 30-40%
  • Area IV: Forming Conclusions and Reporting – 15-25%

Business Environment and Concepts:

  • Area I: Corporate Governance – 17-27%
  • Area II: Economic Concepts and Analysis – 17-27%
  • Area III: Financial Management – 11-21%
  • Area IV: Information Technology – 15-25%

Financial Accounting and Reporting:

  • Area I: Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting – 25-35%
  • Area II: Select Financial Statement Accounts – 30-40%
  • Area III: Select Transactions – 20-30%
  • Area IV: State and Local Governments – 5-15%


  • Area I: Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures – 10-20%
  • Area II: Business Law – 10-20%
  • Area III: Federal Taxation of Property Transactions – 12-22%
  • Area IV: Federal Taxation of Individuals – 15-25%

What are the benefits of obtaining a CPA?

There is a very positive job outlook for licensed CPAs and a wide range of opportunities they could undertake. One of the top career paths for a CPA is in public accounting, with roles in auditing, tax, and consulting services. 

Another potential path for CPAs is in the business and government sectors. In fact, 36% of all CFOs in the largest 1,000 US companies had a CPA in 2020, according to consulting firm Korn Ferry. Another possible career path for CPAs is in forensic services, where they use their accounting skills to aid law enforcement in investigating criminal acts such as fraudmoney laundering, and embezzlement.

In addition to great job prospects, the CPA also comes with a significant salary increase, explained by the rigorous training and the ethical standards and specialized skills required to be maintained.

According to the AICPA Salary Insights 2019, the average salary of a CPA in the US is $122,000 per year, excluding bonuses, while the median salary of all accountants in 2019 was $71,550, which illustrates the significant increase that comes with obtaining the CPA designation.

Financial Risk Manager (FRM®️)

The FRM designation is a professional certification offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) that certifies the holder’s understanding and knowledge in risk management, which international professional standards have validated. 


The FRM certification focuses on managing exposure to operational riskcredit riskmarket riskforeign exchange riskvolatility riskliquidity riskinflation riskbusiness risk, and legal risk. In essence, FRMs manage risk by analyzing and pricing risk into financial decisions, predicting changes or trends, and quantifying the likelihood of adverse events. 

What are the requirements and the exam structures of the FRM?

There are certain requirements a candidate must meet before being a certified financial risk manager. You need to

  • Pass the FRM Exam Part I
  • Pass the FRM Exam Part II by December 31 of the fourth year of passing the FRM Part I
  • Submit two years of full-time relevant financial risk management work experience

The 2 years of work experience required is qualified as relevant when the job’s responsibility revolves around identifying, measuring, monitoring, or managing risk. For example, some of the jobs involved are trading portfolio management, audit, model validation, etc. 

The 2 exams that candidates must take to receive the certification (upon meeting other requirements) have the same formats, with Part I consisting of 100 equally-weighted multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and part II consisting of 80 equally-weighted MCQs, with both exams being 4 hours long. However, the FRM Exam Part I focuses on the tools used to assess financial risk, including

  • Foundations of risk management
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Financial markets and products
  • Valuation and risk models

The FRM Exam Part II, however, focuses on the application of the tools acquired in Part I, including

  • Market risk measurement and management
  • Credit risk measurement and management
  • Operational and integrated risk management
  • Liquidity and treasury risk measurement and management
  • Risk management and investment management
  • Current issues in financial markets

Although both parts of the FRM exam might seem easy as they are only multiple-choice questions, do not be fooled, they are almost impossible to pass without a proper study schedule and enough preparation. 

In fact, the recommended amount of time to study for each level is around 200 - 240 hours, so it is important to set up a study schedule to ensure you’re allotting enough time every week to understand the material. A failure in doing this will most likely result in failing the exams.

The overall score required to pass the exams is estimated to be around 70, with the pass rates for the May 2021 FRM exam being 43 percent for Part I and 59 percent for Part II. In fact, only 25 percent of those who register for the part I exam end up passing both parts.

What are the benefits of gaining an FRM designation?

Earning the FRM designation has benefits in job opportunities and salary increases.

Some of the most common jobs professionals with the FRM designation land are:

Also, according to Payscale and Glassdoor, the average annual salary for professionals working in the financial risk industry ranges from $44,000 to $128,000. In contrast, a professional who has earned the FRM designation can expect a salary between $55,000 to $211,000, which is a significant increase. 

Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®️)

The CAIA is a professional designation for investment professionals awarded by the CAIA Association, a global body dedicated to alternative investments credential programs. This designation is awarded to candidates who complete and pass two exams and meet experience-related requirements. 

The first-ever exam conducted by the CAIA association was in February 2003 and has since garnered more than 12,000 CAIA charterholders and a lot more candidates striving to complete this designation.

The CAIA certification focuses on alternative investment asset classes, including hedge fundsprivate equityventure capital, real estate, and structured products such as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and credit derivatives. It is designed for professionals who manage, analyze, distribute, or regulate alternative investments.

What are the exam structures and requirements of the CAIA Charter?

The CAIA has two exams a candidate must complete, Level I and Level II.

The Level I exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions and mainly focuses on introducing alternative investments, assessing your understanding of the various asset classes, and maintaining professional and ethical standards.

There are six distinct topics in the Level I exam, all of which have a specific weighting, as shown in the table below. 

CAIA-Level I
Level I TopicAppropriate Exam Weight

Professional Standards and Ethics

15% - 25%

Introduction to Alternative Investments

20% - 28%

Real Assets

11% - 17%

Private Equity

12% - 20%

Hedge Funds

11% - 17%

Structured Products

10% - 14%

The historic pass rate for the CAIA Level I exam ranges from 51%-74% since 2010, with an average of 63%. Although it has a higher pass rate than the CFA Level I exam, it is still a very difficult exam, with a recommended study time of around 200 hours.

The Level II exam, however, consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and three sets of constructed response (essay-type) questions, which are focused on assessing how you would apply the knowledge and analytics learned in Level I within a portfolio management context and knowledge of the tools and techniques used to evaluate risk-return.

There are 9 distinct topics for the Level II exam, as illustrated in the table below: 


CAIA Level 2 Syllabus
Level II TopicApproximate Exam Weight
 Multiple ChoiceConstructed Response
Emerging Topics0%10%
Ethics, Regulation, and ESG0%10%
Models8% - 12%0% - 10%
Institutional Asset Owners and Investment Policies8% - 12%0% - 10%
Risk and Risk Management8% - 12%0% - 10%
Methods for Alternative Investing8% - 12%0% - 10%
Accessing Alternative Investments8% - 12%0% - 10%
Due Diligence and Selecting Strategies8% - 12%0% - 10%
Volatility and Complex Strategies8% - 12%0% - 10%

The Level II exam pass rate ranges from 56% to 81% over an 11-year span, with an average of 63%. The recommended amount of time to study for this exam is 200 hours.

Although there are no educational requirements to complete the exams, there are requirements that need to be met to gain the charter. In terms of the experience requirements, to qualify as a CAIA member, a candidate must meet one of the conditions below:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) and has one year of professional experience in the field of alternative investment analysis or other regulatory, banking, financial, or related field, OR
  • Has four years of professional experience in the field of alternative investment analysis or other regulatory, banking, financial, or related field OR
  • Is a CFA charterholder in good standing 

The candidate must also provide details of two professional references and must agree to abide by the CAIA Candidate and Member Agreement.

What are the benefits of obtaining the CAIA charter?

The main benefit of obtaining the CAIA charter is that it is globally recognized and known as the benchmark for best practices within the alternative investment industry, which is has been booming in the recent past. It helps differentiate yourself from other candidates and allows you to understand the alternative investment industry deeply. 

It opens the doors for increased job opportunities and increased salaries. In fact, according to, the starting pay for individuals with the CAIA certification working in the industry is around $70,000, with the potential to reach around $120,000 to $140,000 at senior positions. 

The jobs in which a CAIA charter will significantly benefit you, and may put you at an advantage over other potential employees for having the CAIA charter, are investment analystsportfolio managerinvestment advisorcredit structurer, or C-suite executives such as Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Senior Investment Officer (SIO). In addition, the CAIA can even open opportunities as a managing director (MD) or a senior vice president (SVP) at private equity, hedge fund, and financial services firms.

Furthermore, becoming a CAIA charterholder will allow you to reap all the benefits that come with being a CAIA member. One of the benefits of membership is participation in networking events, which allows you to strengthen your profile, meet accomplished individuals in the industry, get access to job opportunities, gain more knowledge, and even get career advice and support.

Being a member also grants you access to leading-edge online publications for cutting-edge research and expertise at your fingertips.

You also get access to CAIA’s resource repository, aiding with education and research, having granted access to a wealth of essential research via white papers, articles, news, videos, and other global contributors.

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Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA®️)

The CIMA is a professional designation offered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), a global professional management accounting body headquartered in the United Kingdom (UK).

It is designed for management accountant candidates and focuses on equipping them with the knowledge, skill, and expertise in a wide array of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Organizational management
  • Accounting
  • Financial reporting and taxation
  • Project and relationship management
  • Strategic management
  • Risk management

To learn more about the institute and what they do, check out their website here.

What are the exam structures and requirements of the CIMA certification?

The syllabus is split into three pillars and three levels and comprises 12 exams: nine Objective Tests and three Case Study exams.

The three pillars are 

  1. Operational level
  2. Management level
  3. Strategic level

In each pillar or level, there exist 3 objective tests and one integrated case study. Candidates can take the objective tests in any order but must pass all 3 before being able to take the case study exam.

Objective tests are 90 minutes long, computer-based, and available on-demand at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centers worldwide.

Case Study exams are 3 hours long and available in four windows throughout the year, also computer-based and available at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centers worldwide.

However, certain requirements must be met before registering for these exams. Before candidates are able to sit the exam, they must obtain a certificate in business accounting (BA), which CIMA offers. There are 4 exams at the end of this course, and they consist of

  • BA1: Fundamentals of business economics
  • BA2: Fundamentals of management accounting
  • BA3: Fundamentals of financial reporting
  • BA4: Fundamentals of ethics, corporate governance, and business law

The business accounting certificate is often used as an alternative to gaining the CIMA without going to university. Although, it is possible to get an exemption from these exams depending on your degree. The full exemptions exist for the degrees listed below:

Exemptions for the degrees for BA certificate
DegreeExemptions Awarded


All BA1 to BA4

Business studies/administration

All BA1 to BA4


All BA1 to BA4

Business general

BA1, BA4




BA1, BA2, BA3




All BA1 to BA4 and E1 objective test 

After completing these prerequisites, candidates can take the CIMA exams. Below is a table listing the 3 pillars and levels of the CIMA, along with each exam in the pillars. Note that E is the enterprise pillar, P is the performance pillar, and F is the financial pillar.

Three pillar levels of the CIMA
Operational LevelManagement LevelStrategic Level

E1: Organizational Management

E2: Project and Relationship Management

E3: Strategic Management

P1: Management Accounting

P2: Advanced Management Accounting

P3: Risk Management

F1: Financial Reporting and Taxation

F2: Advanced Financial Reporting

F3: Financial Strategy

Operational Case Study Exam

Management Case Study Exam

Strategic Case Study Exam

After successfully completing all 9 objective tests and all 3 case study exams, CIMA candidates can move onto the next stage of being approved as CIMA charterholder. 

This includes fulfilling the practical experience requirements, which complement the exams and measure whether students have gained enough experience applying management accounting skills.

The requirements are to gain 3 years’ worth of experience before, during, or after completing the CIMA designation in relevant areas. There are three areas from which candidates can gain experience, which can be seen below:

Three areas to gain experience, CIMA
Area 1 - Basic ExperienceArea 2 - Core ExperienceArea 3 - Supplementary Experience

1a) Preparing and maintaining accounting records

2a) Preparation of management accounts

3a) Financial strategy

1b) Statutory and regulatory reporting

2b) Planning, budgeting, and forecasting

3b) Corporate finance

1c) IT desktop skills

2c) Management reporting for decision-making

3c) Treasury management

1d) Systems and procedure development 

2d) Product and service costing

3d) Taxation


2e) Information management

3e) Business evaluation and appeal


2f) Project appraisal 

3f) Business strategy


2g) Project management 

3g) External relationships


2h) Working capital control


2i) Risk management and business assurance


However, it is essential to note that a minimum of 18 months’ worth of experience must be gained within the core area.

Furthermore, after gaining the certification, all CIMA members must undertake continuing professional development and keep a record of them. What counts as continuing professional development is any activity that helps you develop your knowledge and skills. This includes

  • Work-based learning
  • Project work
  • Coaching and mentoring/being coached and mentored
  • Academic and professional qualifications
  • Internal and external training courses
  • Conferences and events
  • Local CIMA events
  • Reading technical reports and journals
  • Online learning
  • Research

Although the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants does not prescribe a set number of hours or units, it asks the member to hold themselves accountable and do as much as is needed to remain professionally competent. This ensures the CIMA members will

  • Stay up to date on the latest business topics
  • Expand their knowledge, experience, and business acumen
  • Refine their skill set and develop new skills
  • Remain competitive in the job markets
  • Maintain the credibility and integrity of the chartered institute of management accountants

Some fees and payments must be made to continue being a member of CIMA. These fees can be seen below:

Fees and payments for CIMA
Price List2022

Annual Subscription - Fellow


Annual Subscription - Associate


Membership Application Fee


Membership Application Fee (direct to fellow)


Application (Associate to Fellow)


Remission ACMA or FCMA


Re-reg fee ACMA or FCMA


What are the benefits of obtaining the CIMA designation?

Obtaining the CIMA designation comes with many distinct benefits, one of which is the significant boost in salary. According to CIMA’s own study, the average earnings of a professional with a CIMA designation at the highest level tend to be around £39,000. 

Furthermore, the combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills applied in all the topics tested gives CIMA holders a wealth of opportunities in different positions. According to AICPA, professionals who hold the CIMA certification work as

  • Accountants
  • Auditors
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Data Analyst
  • Lecturer/Professor
  • Consulting
  • Risk Manager
  • Treasury

And many more!

Along with great job prospects and a significant salary as a CIMA holder, another main benefit is the knowledge gained throughout the designation, having a greater understanding of business economics, financial reporting, taxation, organizational management, and more, providing assurance to recruiters that the professional CIMA holder is certified, skilled, and understands what they are doing.

The CFP certification is a globally recognized designation that has become the standard of excellence in financial planning and is owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

The Board is an American organization that administers the CFP program in the United States and sets a high bar for ethics, enforcement, and education.

It has become a benchmark for having the highest education and ethical standards in financial planning, which is why more than 89,000 professionals currently hold the certification, assuring clients their advice is trusted, credible, and in the client’s best interest. 

The primary roles of CFPs are to help clients understand and manage their finances, guiding things such as creating a budget, tax planning, retirement planning, investment planning, insurance, estate planning, and debt management.

One of the things that sets CFPs apart from regular financial advisors is that they have a fiduciary duty towards their client’s assets, meaning they have the legal and ethical obligation to act in their client’s best interests.

What are the exam structures and requirements of the CFP®️ certification?

The CFP exam is a 170-question, multiple-choice test consisting of two 3-hour sections during one day, with a 40 minute scheduled break between sections. Three different question types will be answered: stand-alone questions, short scenario questions, and case study questions. 

Stand-alone questions are questions that are typically 2-3 sentences long and follow a multiple-choice format with 4 choices. The short-scenario questions test on scenarios and also follow the multiple-choice format. On the other hand, case study questions are much longer, cover several pages, and are often followed by 8-12 multiple choice questions each.

The areas tested in the CFP exam are detailed in the document provided by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., known as the Principle Knowledge Topics, which includes:

  • Professional conduct and regulation (8%)
  • General principles of financial planning (15%)
  • Risk management and insurance planning (11%)
  • Investment planning (17%)
  • Tax planning (14%)
  • Retirement savings and income planning (18%)
  • Estate planning (10%)
  • Psychology of financial planning (7%)

Although the CFP is not as challenging and rigorous as the CFA, it is still relatively difficult. In fact, the CFP Board recommends candidates to study for 250 hours to ensure the material is understood and that candidates are adequately prepared for the exam. 

The average pass rate for 2021 was 61%, where a total of 8,795 candidates sat the exam, with 5,332 candidates passing the exam. However, of these 5,332 candidates, 42% of them had previously taken the test before and failed, meaning they had to retake the test. This illustrates how difficult the CFP exam is if you don’t invest enough time and commitment.

Along with passing the CFP exam, the CFP board has certain requirements a candidate must meet before and after taking the CFP exam before being officially certified, covering education, experience, and ethics. The education requirement consists of two parts and states that a candidate must have

  1. Completed coursework on financial planning through a CFP board program
  2. A bachelor’s degree or higher (in any discipline) from a CFP board accredited college or university

Click here to learn more about the different CFP board education programs available.

The experience requirement states that a candidate must have provided personal financial planning to the general public without the supervision of a higher authority.

Candidates must complete either 

  • 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process OR
  • 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience but must meet additional requirements

However, the experience required must be completed either 10 years before or 5 years after successfully completing the CFP exam.

The ethics requirement is the final step before receiving the CFP certification. The candidate must sign the ethics declaration, agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards for the practice of financial planning, and act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to clients.

Furthermore, the candidate must disclose information about their background, after which the CFP Board will conduct an extensive background check.

Completing all these requirements and the CFP exam will enable you to obtain the prized CFP designation, which comes with many benefits. 

However, to maintain their membership, CFP holders must also complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) requirements every 2 years to maintain their certification, with 2 hours of it being in CFP Board-approved Ethics CE. This is to ensure CFP holders continue staying well-versed in comprehensive financial planning and uphold their ethical integrity.

Acquiring the CFP certification comes with many benefits, which is why over 180,000 professionals have obtained the designation. Some of these benefits include

  • Increased job opportunities
  • Significant salary increase
  • Networking opportunities
  • Enhanced credibility

Among a wealth of other opportunities, some of the most common roles CFPs get into after acquiring their certification are in:

These are great career opportunities for CFPs. These institutions often need certified financial advisors with the technical expertise that comes with the CFP certificate to provide services to clients by creating financial plans, advising on different investment opportunities, and much more.

Obtaining the CFP designation boosts the salaries of financial advisors due to the technical expertise and credibility that comes with it. According to a recent study conducted by the Aite Group, CFP professionals earn between 14% to 33% more income than non-CFP professionals, even after accounting for years of experience. 

Furthermore, when completing and acquiring the CFP certificate, professionals are eligible to register for a membership with the Financial Planning Association (FPA), the CFP’s professional partner in planning. This provides benefits to members such as networking, being provided with an invaluable opportunity to connect with and meet other financial planners with the certificate.

Comparison between various financial designations
Number of Levels31222
Costs$2,550 to $3,450$1,000 to $3,000$3,000$2,000$1,500
Exam Pass Rate30-50%40-50%70%67%40-50%
Content FocusPortfolio Management, InvestmentsFinancial Reporting, AuditReal Assets, Alternative InvestmentsFinancial PlanningFinancial Risk Management
Career ApplicationAll EncompassingAccounting and FinanceAsset ManagementRetail and Wealth ManagementRisk Management
Study Time (hrs)300-350 per examVaries200 per examVaries200-300 per exam
Completion Time3-5 years2.5 - 5 years1-2 years4 years<1 year
Work Experience4 years1 year1 year3 years2 years

All the certifications are great options to increase your expertise and technical expertise. Still, you must consider your own individual goals and aspirations before attempting to acquire any of these certificates, as they offer very different things. Good luck! 

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To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful: