CFA vs CQF – Which Program Should You Enroll For?

CFA vs CQF – Which Program Should You Enroll For? – There shouldn’t be any doubt about choosing CFA exam or CQF exam.  Both of them are quite different in scope and most important each of them is done at a separate time of anyone’s career. Usually, CFA is done when the professionals have few years of experience and want to get into investment analysis or sort. On the other hand, CQF is done when one has more than 10-15 years of experience. It’s a general observation and you can do CQF whenever you choose. All you need to do is to pass the test.

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The article will give you provide you with detailed comparison between CFA and CQF –

  1. CFA vs CQF Infographics
  2. What is CFA?
  3. What is CQF?
  4. Key Differences- CFA vs CQF
  5. Why pursue CFA
  6. Why pursue CQF?

CFA vs CQF Infographics

Reading time : 90 seconds

Lets understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this CFA vs CQF Infographics.

cfa vs cqf

What is Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

  • CFA is not for the faint hearted. It’s considered one of the toughest exams in the finance domain. So if you want to be a Chartered Financial Analyst, make sure that you’re committed to the program till the end. It’s a long haul and it would take 2-3 years to complete. Till then you need to commit to study hard and give your best shot.
  • If we dig the statistics, we would see that there are 134,762 members who have passed out CFA exams and they belong to 145 countries world-wide. So you can say that CFA brought together all the students from all over the world to experience the finest ideas and to explore magnificent option as their career.
  • The best part is you can pursue CFA even while you are working. And you should as you need to have four years of full-time work experience (not always investment related) to get your certification.
  • CFA is considered one of the most comprehensive courses in the entire domain of finance. So once you get the certification, you would be considered as authority in the sub-domain of investment analysis, portfolio management and equity research. And needless to say, the work opportunities would be countless.

What is Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF)?



  • There are three magnificent benefits of pursuing CQF. First, this is one of the most reputed courses in the world in the domain of Quantitative Finance. Second, the duration of the course is just of 6 months which makes it easy for professional to manage both work and study. Third, this course doesn’t need you to leave the job and pursue it full time; you can do it in your spare time and clear it while working simultaneously.
  • The course is designed in such a way that students can easily broaden their skill-base. But if you think studying a little will do the trick, you’re wrong. Many students have mentioned that the curriculum is perfect for one year; but covering it in 6 months is really an arduous task.
  • CQF is purely dependent on self-study. If you want to make your mark, you mostly need to depend on yourself and how much you can study on your own. Even if you would get full access with the faculty members, the hard work needs to be put in by you.


Key Differences between CFA & CQF

  • Comprehensibility: If we compare the comprehensiveness of both of these courses, CFA is much more comprehensive. But that doesn’t mean that CQF includes very little in its curriculum. It’s intensive too, but not as much as CFA is.
  • Duration: If you want to pursue CQF, all you need is 6 months to complete. But to pursue CFA and to clear it, you need at least 2-3 years of rigorous study and continuous improvement in your knowledge base.
  • Primers: In CFA, the level-1 acts as a nice foundation for students. Because level-2 and level-3 are much more complex and comprehensive. In case of CQF, they offer primer courses on Mathematics, Finance and Programing so that you can build a good foundation before actually digging into the curriculum.
  • Salary differences: Before going into salary differences, it’s important to note that when students do these courses. CFA is usually done at the beginning of a career (not always, but mostly) and CQF is done when the students already have many years of experience in the relevant domain. So naturally, there would be a significant gap between the compensation. So comparing the salary difference doesn’t add to our conclusions of how these courses are, as experience plays a huge role in the determination of salary. A newbie with CFA degree earn between US $47,000 to US $52,000 per annum. Once he has more experience, he begins to earn more and reaches six figures soon. On the other hand, mentioning the salary of a person with a CQF degree seems difficult as the person already has so many other qualifications along with CQF.
  • Value of the course: If you look at both the courses, from a layman’s point of view CFA may seem more valuable. But if we look closely, we would see that the value of the course depends totally on the knowledge-base and the experience of a professional. Generally, when a professional chooses to pursue CQF, he already has at least Masters or PhD in Quantitative Finance or has 10-15 years of experience to really appreciate the material of CQF. But in case of CFA, people come fresh out of college and pursue CFA or in some cases people pursue it while having only few years of experience; thus the value of CFA seems more than CQF.
  • Fees: The fees are very reasonable for CFA course. Even if it’s for 2-3 years, you still need to pay around US$3000 as a whole. But in regards to CQF, the fees are huge, around US $18,000, almost six times of CFA course.

Why pursue CFA?

  • CFA is one of the courses which you can’t ignore if you want to make your mark in investment field. CFA is the most comprehensive and globally recognized course. People who think of going in the field of equity research or hedge fund needs CFA certification. If you want to go in investment banking, you need an MBA in finance more than a CFA.
  • CFA is reasonably priced. You don’t need to expend a fortune to do the course. At the same time, completing CFA can be counted as a milestone in your career.
  • Experience is the key in CFA. If you think too much about salary in the beginning, you would be mistaking. With having relevant experience and CFA, ultimately you will earn much more than your peers. As every plant needs time to grow bigger and better, CFA helps to build your professional life in the same manner.
  • You can pursue CFA while working a full time job which makes it much more convenient than other heavy-weight courses.

Why pursue CQF?

  • The first reason for pursuing CQF is its flexibility. You can choose your time and place and you can pursue the entire course as per your convenience. Very few globally recognized courses provide this kind of flexibility.
  • People with experience little or no time to pursue a big course. So Fitch Learning came up with a curriculum which can be covered within 6 months. However, many students mention that they would be able to do it better if they would have been given more time, but still it’s worthy to pursue a course which is intense, globally recognized and adds tremendous value to your professional curve and just of 6 months duration.
  • Now as it’s a self-study course, it’s natural to expect hindrances. So what would you do if you are not able to pursue the course immediately and moreover what if you have realized it after registering for the course? You would be able to delay the program by 6 programs including the one you have currently enrolled for.
  • The application process is merit based. You give a test, you pass and you would be allowed to do the course. There is no fluff and no hidden eligibility criteria.

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If you want to make your mark in financial analysis and investment, then you choose CFA over any other financial course. But make sure that you are really willing to pass CFA as it needs arduous effort to clear all levels. Even if CQF is severely criticized for its cost, it allows you to have access to lifetime programs which will update your knowledge over time and you will remain an industry expert for a long period of time. Again, CQF is not for everybody. Before enrolling for the program, know that you’re a good match.

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