Difference Between CFA and CFQ

The full form of CFA is Chartered Financial Analyst and an aspirant can pursue this course only after he or she is done with his or her graduation and it is organized by the U.S. based CFA Institute whereas CFQ is the short form used for Corporate Finance Qualification and this course is organized by ICAEW.

In a fast-paced financial industry, there has been an increasing demand for qualified and credentialed professionals with the right kind of capabilities for any specialized job in a competitive global arena. To meet this requirement, several financial certification programs and designations have been offered by prestigious institutions across the world. In the course of this article, we would discuss CFA, one of the most reputed financial credentials, and CFQ, the highest level designation awarded in the specialized field of corporate finance. The information provided should be used to make an informed choice of credential-based on individual needs, eligibility, and preferences.

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CFA vs CFQ Infographics

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Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this CFA vs. CFQ Infographics.

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CFA vs. CFQ Summary

Certification Organized ByCFA is organized by CFA InstituteCFQ, Diploma in Corporate Finance and Certificate in Corporate Finance are jointly awarded by ICAEW and CISI
Number of LevelsCFA: CFA has 3 exam levels, each of them split into two exam sessions (morning and afternoon sessions)

CFA Part I: Morning session: 120 multiple choice questions Afternoon session: 120 multiple choice questions

CFA Part II: Morning session: 10 item set questions Afternoon session: 10 item set questions

CFA Part III: Morning session: Constructed response (essay) questions (usually between 8-12 questions) with a maximum of 180 points.

Afternoon session: 10 item set questions
There are no exams to sit for the highest level at which candidates apply for CF Designation either after completing Diploma in Corporate Finance (through study route) or directly (through experience route) by fulfilling pre-requisite work and experience requirements.

Diploma in Corporate Finance consists of two exams:

Paper 1: Open book examination (short scenario style questions)

Paper 2: Open book examination based on a case study

Mode/duration of examinationAcross CFA Part I, II, III levels, there are morning and afternoon sessions of 3 hours each.Diploma in Corporate Finance
Paper 1: 3-hour duration
Paper 2: 4-hour duration
Exam WindowCFA Part I, II & III level exams are conducted on the first Saturday of June every year, Part I exam can also be taken in DecemberDiploma in Corporate Finance Paper 1 and Paper 2 are conducted twice every year in the months of 24th January 2017. There would be another session in June 2017.
SubjectsCFA content curriculum consists of 10 modules with increasing levels of difficulty from the CFA Part I exam to the Part II & Part III exam respectively.

These 10 modules consist of:
Ethics and Professional Standards Quantitative Methods Economics Financial Reporting and Analysis Corporate Finance Portfolio Management Equity Investments Fixed Income Derivatives Alternative Investments

Diploma in Corporate Finance content curriculum for Paper 1 and Paper 2 are as given below:

Paper 1: Corporate Finance Techniques and Theory Content:

Financial Statement Analysis Valuation Debt and Equity Mergers, Acquisitions and Disposals Regulation, Governance and Ethics

Paper 2: Corporate Finance Strategy and Advice Content:

Corporate Strategy Mergers and Acquisitions Corporate Performance and Reconstructions Supporting material for sections 2 and 3

Integrated Skills: Case Study
FeesCFA: $2400Cost for Diploma in Corporate Finance:

Paper 1: Corporate Finance Techniques and Theory £315 Paper 2: Corporate Finance Strategy and Advice £370

Paper 2: Corporate Finance Strategy and Advice £370

Cost of applying for Corporate Finance Qualification through experience route:

£788 + VAT for ICAEW members
£985 + VAT for nonmembers

There is no charge for applying for the Corporate Finance qualification via the study route.
Job opportunities/job titlesAs one of the most sought-after financial credentials, CFA can help acquire advanced knowledge, skills, and capabilities in areas including equity research and financial analysis with promising career prospects. This would be of immense help to professionals willing to explore work opportunities in the global industry.

Some of the relevant job roles include:
Investment Bankers Portfolio Managers Equity Research Analysts

It is an advanced level designation in corporate finance which opens up a plethora of career opportunities for professionals by recognizing their knowledge, skills, and expertise in this specialized domain. At the highest levels, corporate finance is a lucrative career that can only be pursued by those demonstrating a high level of efficiency and expertise at their command. CFQ helps demonstrate those abilities to the world and makes them part of an elite community of corporate professionals.

Some of the relevant job roles for professionals with Corporate Finance Qualification are:

Treasury Management Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

What is CFA?

What is CFQ?

  • CFQ (Corporate Finance Qualification) is a specialist qualification awarded by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) to recognize the skills and expertise of corporate financiers.
  • There are two routes available for acquiring this special designation, namely the study route and experience route. Essentially, CFQ is an experience-oriented qualification which requires a certain level of experience and expertise to be able to earn the designation, in which case one need not sit for any exam.
  • However, in the absence of the requisite amount of experience, one can opt for a study route. Those who opt for the study route must have completed a Diploma in Corporate Finance to apply for CFQ.

CFA vs. CFQ Exam Requirements

CFA exam:

To qualify for CFA, a candidate should have a Bachelor’s Degree (or they should be in the final year of Bachelor’s Degree) or 4 years of professional work experience or 4 years of higher education and professional work experience taken together.

CFQ exam:

  • To qualify for CFQ through the study route, 3 programs are available depending on the level of experience of any candidate.
  • Entry-level candidates can opt for a Certificate in Corporate Finance with no entry requirements to start their journey to CFQ.
  • Those who have completed a Certificate in Corporate Finance or ICAEW Chartered Accountants can enroll for Diploma in Corporate Finance. To be eligible to apply for CFQ, candidates who have chosen the study route must have completed the Diploma in Corporate Finance and currently working in a relevant position.
  • They should also demonstrate 3 years of corporate finance experience with a minimum of three corporate finance transactions.
  • Alternatively, candidates applying for Corporate Finance Qualification (CFQ) directly via experience route should have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in a corporate finance position or relevant role with at least 6 demonstrable transactions where they were in a lead advisory role.
  • They would also need to provide three peer references to validate their experience and expertise.

Why pursue CFA?  

  • It is a complex and advanced multi-tier financial certification program designed to help finance professionals acquire specialized knowledge areas, including asset management, financial analysis, financial modeling, portfolio management, and other research-oriented regions of finance.
  • Even non-finance professionals stand to gain substantially by completing one or more levels of CFA. In contrast, experienced financial professionals would further their career prospects a great deal by earning CFA Charter.
  • This not only enhances their value in the eyes of prospective employers but also expands their area of expertise in finance, along with inspiring confidence in their professional capabilities.

Why Pursue CFQ?


CFA and CFQ represent two highly acknowledged credentials in finance, but by no means can they be considered to be in the same category. CFA is a designation distinguished by its scope regarding the nature of professional capabilities it might help acquire. It is not a specialized designation but can help experienced professionals gain necessary expertise in several technical areas of finance, including equity research, financial analysis, and portfolio management. On the other hand, CFQ as a designation is limited in its scope to corporate finance and more of an experience-oriented appointment, which does not require one to sit for any exams to earn the Corporate Finance Qualification. Those looking to specialize in corporate finance only need to apply for Corporate Finance Qualification. CFA offers a broader scope in terms of specialization but with little to no direct relevance in the field of corporate finance.

Reader Interactions


  1. Marcus Norton says

    Brilliant blog with quite amazing posts. Thanks you for giving such key differences between CFA and CFQ. Is there any article related to CIMA? Please share me some notes on CFA and CIMA if you have?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I have an article on CFA vs CIMA in which I have explained CIMA with infographics. I am sure you will like this. Enjoy reading

  2. Trevor Griffin says

    Best Resource. Best comparisons between CFA and CFQ. Well explained. Is there any Training course on CFA level 1? Please provide me some detail from where and how will I get to learn this training so that I can expand my knowledge and skills.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thank you so much Trevor. Yes I do have training course on CFA level 1 with detail and study material which offers curriculum and examination program designed to expand your working knowledge and practical skills related to investment decision making. For more details regarding this course you can go to this CFA Level 1 Course

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