What is the CFA Institute?

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  • Written By: Lisa Mohr
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2019
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The CFA Institute is a non-profit association for investment professionals that awards chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certificate in investment performance measurement (CIPM) certifications. The institute administers and grades the CFA and CIPM designations and publishes the Financial Analysts Journal. It also operates the CFA Institute Centre for Financial Market Integrity and the Research Foundation of CFA Institute.

The primary mission of the CFA Institute is to test people and provide them with CFA designations. CFAs, or chartered financial analysts, are people who have received professional designations to practice as a financial analyst; it is considered the gold standard of the investment analysis field. Prior to taking the examination, people must posses a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or have equivalent education plus 48 months of professional work experience. People must then complete a series of three six-hour-long examinations through the association. Once the person passes these tests, he will receive CFA certification and is obligated to adhere to the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics.

The CFA Institute also offers a variety of educational programs and services to both association members and non-members alike. It is headquartered in the Unites States in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also has offices in Hong Kong and London. The institute is the largest association of investment professionals, with more than 100,000 members worldwide.


The CFA Institute began when the Financial Analysts Federation (FAF) created the independent Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts to handle the testing. Although the ICFA was originally an independent organization created by the FAF, the two organizations eventually merged to become the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR). AIMR later changed its name to the CFA Institute.

The association values professionalism and high ethical standards. The organization’s formal mission statement, according to its website, is to lead "the investment profession globally by setting the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence.” In association with its mission statement, the CFA Institute established in 1999 what are known as global investment performance standards (GIPS).

GIPS is a set of standards for the presentation of investment performance information. According to the institute, these standards also aim to create ethical global and industrywide methods of communicating investment results to prospective clients. GIPS are often credited with ensuring credibility among investment firms and ensuring comparable investment summaries across different firms are available to potential clients. GIPS are seen as the core of the CFA Institute and its mission for ethical equality and, as of 2010, were sponsored and promoted in 32 countries.


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