CFA vs CA: Which Is Better For You?

Talk about the most reputed career and course in India, you cannot neglect or overlook CA and CFA. When it comes to career, to be frank, CA vs CFA are two of the best. Everything related to these two courses is top-notch, the career, the salary, the institutes, etc. However, the number of CA and CFA graduates coming out each year does not exceed a certain number as the course and the examinations are hard to crack. Not all candidates could become CA or CFA graduates. The level of hard work and dedication that needs to be put into studying this course is exceptional. While most people consider selecting CA or CFA based on the limited knowledge they have, they regret it later. Yes, CA and CFA are different courses and each course is designed to serve different careers. Here is everything you need to know before you select the appropriate course.


Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a globally recognized credential that stands superior to most other credentials in the field of investment management and financial management. CFA course is different from most of the other courses in this field and the course is conducted by the CFA Institute. As already mentioned, CFA graduates are highly respected by colleagues in the same field as they hold deeper knowledge in wealth management, banking, investment analysis, financial management, etc.

Cracking the CFA course is harder than most of the courses, to be frank, it could be considered to be highly complicated. If a candidate perusing this course does not put all of his hard work and dedication into it, he/she might not be able to graduate from the course. This is one of the reasons why the number of CFA graduates are always low.

Apart from the complicated nature of the course, the candidate should crack three levels of exams, level 1, level 2, and level 3. Only if the candidate passes these three levels of exams, he/she could become a CFA graduate. Unlike most of the other courses, a candidate could complete the course within 1.5 to 4-years. If the candidate could pass all three levels of exams within 1.5-years, he/she could graduate from CFA. Do you see the difference?


Eligibility for CFA course –

To peruse the CFA course, the applicant should satisfy the below-listed criteria’s.

  1. A bachelor’s degree from a UGC recognized institute, university, or college in any discipline. However, applicants from a similar background are more preferred.
  2. The applicant could also be from the final year of a Bachelor’s degree program. But, the applicant should be completing the Bachelor’s course before the level 2 exams of CFA.
  3. The applicant should have a valid passport while registering for this course.
  4. The applicant should have 4-year minimum work experience or both work and education experience. Those people who own businesses or doing articleship or internship could also join this course. However, they should be able to submit the payslip.

The course duration of the CFA course –

Unlike other courses, even if the CFA course is hard to crack, the course duration is comparatively very low. A candidate could graduate this course in just 1.5 years or within 4-years. Based on how good the candidate’s skills and knowledge is, he/she could complete the course and graduate it. Remember, he/she should pass all three levels of exams to graduate this course. On average the best candidates manage to pass all three levels within 4-years.

Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, exams details

Level 1 exam –

  • Morning exam session – 120 question
  • Afternoon exam session – 120 question
  • Exam duration – 3 hours each session, a total of 6 hours exam
  • Type of question – Multiple choice questions
  • Average pass percentage marks – 43%

Level 1 exam topic weightage –

  • Corporate finance – 10%
  • Financial reporting and analysis – 15%
  • Fixed income – 11%
  • Ethical and professional standards – 15%
  • Economics – 10%
  • Derivatives – 6%
  • Alternative investments – 6%
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning – 6%
  • Quantitative methods – 10%
  • Equity investments – 11%

Level 2 exam –

  • Morning exam session – 60 questions from 10 case studies
  • Afternoon exam session – 60 question from 10 case studies
  • Exam duration – 3 hours each session, a total of 6 hours exam
  • Type of question – Multiple choice questions based on the case list
  • Average pass percentage marks – 45%

Level 2 exam topic weightage –

  • Corporate finance – 5-10%
  • Financial reporting and analysis – 10-15%
  • Fixed income – 10-15%
  • Ethical and professional standards – 10-15%
  • Economics – 5-10%
  • Derivatives – 5-10%
  • Alternative investments – 5-10%
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning – 10-15%
  • Quantitative methods – 5-10%
  • Equity investments – 10-15%

Level 3 exam –

  • Morning exam session – Essay type questions
  • Afternoon exam session – 60 question from 10 case studies
  • Exam duration – 3 hours each session, a total of 6 hours exam
  • Type of question – Multiple choice questions based on the case list and essay
  • Average pass percentage marks – 56%

Level 3 topic weightage –

  • Fixed income – 15-20%
  • Ethical and professional standards – 10-15%
  • Economics – 5-10%
  • Derivatives – 5-10%
  • Alternative investments – 5-10%
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning – 35-40%
  • Equity investments – 10-15%

If you read the above-listed facts and details, you would understand almost everything about this course, apart from it, we would like to mention that, the course fee of this course is comparatively higher than most of the other courses. We will compare CFA career, salary with CA in the end.

CA –

In India Chartered Accountant is one of the most respected job titles. There are several reasons for such a trend. One is that the CA course is not easy to complete and a person cannot become one without exceptional hard work and dedication. This is not an exaggeration, most of the candidates who have perused the course review the course to be the same. If you are a person with a mindset to become a chartered accountant then you could peruse this course. But, if you do not have that mindset for hard-working and to put all the dedication into studying, then do not peruse this course.

While a CA graduate is one of the highest salary drawing credentials in India, the job is not an easy one. The entire path would be full of challenges and complications that needed to be handled carefully and cautiously. We are not trying to confuse you or scare you, but, you need to know the facts before joining the course. There is a reason why most of the experts mention the CA profession to be the toughest and complicated.  A CA graduate needs to manage and work in all the fields of business and finance. Which is not an easy task unless you are cut out for such stress and strain.

Eligibility for CA course –

The entire process of perusing the CA course is different from other courses. Here is everything you need to know.

Graduating CA course is a four-step or three-stage process.

  1. Any candidate who has passed the 10th standard could apply for CPC ( Common Proficiency Course). This is the first step.
  2. After passing the 12th standard from a recognized board, the candidate should pass the CPT (Common Proficiency Test) exam. This is the second step or first stage.
  3. Once you have passed the CPT exam, you need to pass IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course) exams. However, to attend the IPCC exam, the candidate should have passed with at least 55% marks in a UG or PG course in Commerce. If not commerce, the candidates should have secured at least 60% marks. This is the third step or second stage.
  4. After passing IPCC, the candidate should do a three-year articleship or training under a practicing chartered accountant. Only after this three-year training, the candidate could appear for CA final exam. This is the fourth step or third stage.
  5. Before undertaking training or articleship, the candidate must complete the 100-hours of Information Technology Training.

The course duration of CA course –

The course duration of the CA course needs to be considered complicated. Different people take different time to complete this course. However, here is a course duration based on three stages involved.

  1. Foundation stage of the first stage –The foundation stage generally extends up to four months. However, it could vary based on the candidate’s academic performance.
  2. Intermediate stage or second stage – This stage generally extends up to 8-months. The 8-month duration is calculated from the date of registration to the day of the exam.
  3. Final stage – The duration of the final stage is a minimum of 3-years. The duration of this course is calculated from the date of registration of this course to the end of the three-year articleship of training.

CA course syllabus –

  • CA foundation stage –

The Foundation course comprises 4 subjects in total. Each subject with a 100% mark exam and a minimum pass mark of 40% and an overall aggregate of 50% minimum.

  1. Principles of the practice of accounting
  2. Business economics, business, and commercial knowledge
  3. Business laws, recording, and business correspondence
  4. Business mathematics, logical reasoning, and statistics

CA intermediate stage –

Each paper maximum of 100 marks and a minimum of 40% mark for passing and to clear a group, you need to secure a 50% minimum overall aggregate marks.

Group 1:

  1. Accounting
  2. Taxation
  3. Cost and management accounting
  4. Corporate laws and other laws

Group 2:

  1. Auditing and assurance
  2. Financial management and economics for finance
  3. Advanced accounting
  4. Enterprise information systems and strategic management

CA final stage –

The final stage has two main groups, each paper with a maximum of 100 marks. A candidate should secure at least 40% marks in each paper and a minimum of 50% aggregate overall marks.

Group 1:

  1. Advanced auditing
  2. Financial reporting
  3. Professional ethics
  4. Strategic financial management
  5. Part A – comprises of company law, Part B – Economics Law

Group 2:

  1. Advanced indirect tax laws
  2. Financial services and capital markets
  3. Advanced direct tax laws and international taxations
  4. Advanced management accounting

Now, you know almost everything you need to know about the CA course and how to peruse the course. Let us now compare both the courses.

CFA and CA course differences.

  • CFA course and job commonly focus on finance, but, CA focuses deeply on taxation, finance, accounting, law, and audit.
  • CFA course is conducted by the CFA Institute and CA is conducted by ICAI.
  • CFA course is comparatively easier than the CA course and therefore, the number of a person clearing CFA course is higher than the CA course.
  • Exam pattern of both CFA and CA is different, while most of the CFA exams are multiple-choice questions and CA is essay type or different. While it is possible to crack some CFA exams out of sheer luck, when it comes to CA, luck won’t help.
  • When it comes to salary, a CA graduate draws comparatively more salary than CFA graduates. However, this could vary based on job title and employment.
  • The course fee of CFA is comparatively higher than that of the CA course.

Apart from these differences, one of the major differences between both CFA and CA is that, in general, CFA graduates could find a job anywhere around the world. On the other hand, CA graduates are in demand in India and are one of the most respected job titles.

While there are several differences between both the courses, the demand for both CFA and CA graduates are almost the same.

Conclusion: Which course is best for you?

It is not possible to answer this question as to the best course for one person could be worst for the other person. However, if you read the course details mentioned above, it might help you to come to a decision. If it doesn’t help. Here is something that might help you, the CFA course is internationally recognized, and graduating could get your job anywhere around the globe and also in India. On the other hand, the CA course graduation could get your job anywhere in India and the demand for CA graduates is very high. Apart from this, both the CFA course and CA course are different and their core focus topics are different too. Now, you decide, which course is the best for you.

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