Difference Between CFA and CIPM

CFA is a professional course offered by the CFA Institute and prepares candidates for investment management roles like portfolio management, investment banking and equity research. Whereas, CIPM, also offered by the CFA Institute prepares students for roles in portfolio analysis and measurement, risk management and compliance.

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The article is articulated in this order:

  1. What is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter?
  2. What is the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)?
  3. Infographics
  4. Exam Requirements
  5. Why pursue CFA?
  6. Why pursue CIPM?

What is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter?

The CFA® Program focuses on investment management. The top employers and shareholders include the most respected financial corporations globally, e.g., JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS, and Wells Fargo, to name a few. Many of these are investment banks, but the CFA® Program focuses on the knowledge and skills most relevant to the global investment management profession from a practitioner’s standpoint.

Investment professionals who hold the CFA®designation (or CFA® charter) meet rigorous educational, work experience, and ethical conduct requirements.

Only those who complete three graduate-level examinations, four years of work experience, and annual membership renewal (including ethics and code of professional conduct attestation) are permitted to use the CFA® designation. Complementary codes and standards (such as the Global Investment Performance Standards and Asset Manager Code) help enhance this professional distinction.

What is the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)?

The CIPM program is globally recognized for its performance evaluation and presentation expertise of investment professionals. The CIPM certificate is an incredible way to gain a perspective and a firm footing in the world’s financial marketsFinancial MarketsThe term "financial market" refers to the marketplace where activities such as the creation and trading of various financial assets such as bonds, stocks, commodities, currencies, and derivatives take place. It provides a platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade at a price determined by market more. It guides the professionals through a set code of ethics and instils in them the value of pursuing excellence in the field with an unmatched passion.

CIPM certificate module is designed to provide extensive in-depth knowledge and practical skills of Project Management tools and techniques. The course allows the professional to be more competent, productive, and result oriented in all the aspects of executing and handling their knowledge of both hard and soft skills. They are trained to appreciate the finer nuances of Time and Cost while meeting Quality to plan out control risks effectively while addressing people issues like communication, teamwork, motivation, and information management.

CFA vs CIPM Infographics


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CFA vs CIPM – Comparative Table

Organizing BodyThe CFA Institute, USA, conduct the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.The CFA Institute, USA organize the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) exams.
PatternThe course is divided into 3 levels.

  • Level I
  • Level II
  • Level III
The course is divided into 2 levels.
  • Level I (formerly Principles Level)
  • Level II  (Formerly Expert Level)

CFA charterholders are exempted from appearing for the Level I exam.

Duration of CourseIf a candidate can clear all the exams in his/ her first attempt, then the course can be completed in 4 years.On average, a candidate can complete the course in a span of 18 months.
SyllabusThe syllabus revolves around. The syllabus revolves around.

  • Ethics and Professionalism
  • Performance Measurement
  • Performance Presentation
  • Performance Attribution
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Manager Selection
  • GIPS Standards
Exam FeesThe course’s overall cost lies in the range of $2,550 to $3,450 depending on the time of registration. The cost includes both exam fees and enrollment fees.The course’s overall cost lies in the range of $950 to $1,350 depending on the time of registration. The cost is entirely due to exam fees, and there is no entry fee.
JobsSome of the common profiles include
Some of the common profiles include

DifficultyThe exams are challenging as only ~10% of the candidates are able to clear all three levels. During June 2019, the pass rates for Level I, Level II, and Level III were 41%, 44%, and 56% respectively.The exams are quite difficult as only ~25% of the candidates are able to clear both levels. During September 2019,  the pass rates for Level I and Level II were 48% and 51%.
Exam DateThe schedule for the upcoming exams during the year 2021
  • Level I: Feb 16 – Mar 01, May 18-24, Aug 24-30, Nov 16-22
  • Level II: May 25 – Jun 01, Aug 31 – Sep 04
  • Level III: May 25 – Jun 01, Nov 23-25
The exams for both levels are scheduled to take place during
  • Mar 16-13, 2021
  • Sep 16-30, 2021
Key Takeaways
  1. CFA is the short form used for Chartered Financial Analyst. CIPM is the short form used for Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement.
  2. The CFA Institute organizes CFA. CIMA is organized by CFA Institute as well as CIPM Institute.
  3. An aspirant will need to appear and qualify for three levels of exams conducted by the CFA Institute. The three levels of exams are Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. In the case of an aspirant who is willing to pursue a CIPM degree, they will need to appear and qualify for two levels of exams conducted by the CFA and CIPM Institute. The two groups of exams are CIPM Level 1 exam as well as the CIPM Level 2 exam.
  4. The CFA course subjects are Investment tools, asset valuation, ethical and professional standards, and portfolio management and wealth planning. The CIFM course subjects are Performance attribution, performance measurement, ethical standards, performance appraisal and manager selection, and performance presentation and GIPS standards.
  5. A CFA can apply for the job titles of research analystResearch AnalystResearch analyst is a profession where the main task includes research on specific fields, analyzing the facts and figures, interpreting the analysis, and finally presenting the same to a structured audience that can relate to marketing, finance, more, consultant, portfolio managerPortfolio ManagerA Portfolio Manager is an executive responsible for making investment decisions & handle investment portfolios for fulfilling the client’s investment-related objectives. Also, he/she works towards maximizing the benefits & minimizing the potential risks for clients. read more, chief executive, risk managerRisk ManagerA risk manager takes care of the financial risk management of an organization by proactively identifying and analyzing potential risks along with the development of preventive measures to either entirely remove or minimize these more, relationship manager, financial adviser, and corporate financial analyst. A CIPM can apply for job opportunities in an investment bank, GIPS verification companies, investment management, research companies, and performance measurement software development companies or can even use for job titles of plan sponsors, performance measurement, etc.
  6. CFA exams are not as tricky as CIPM exams.
  7. An aspirant can complete his or her CIPM exams in a year if they qualify both the levels in one go. Both the CIPM Level 1 exam and the CIPM Level 2 Exam are conducted twice every year. These exams are shown in the spring as well as autumn season. So, an aspirant can readily appear for the last level of the exam (CIPM Level 2 Exam) as soon as he or she has qualified for the first level (CIPM Level 1 Exam) without needing to wait for a certain period. In the case of the CFA examCFA ExamThe Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program offers a graduate-level curriculum and examination program designed to expand your working knowledge and practical skills related to investment decision-making. read more, an aspirant doesn’t get the leverage to appear and qualify for the course in a single year since there are levels for this course, and the exams for each of them are not conducted in the same year.

Why pursue the CFA Designation?

The differentiating benefits of earning the CFA® designation include:

  • Real-world expertise
  • Career recognition
  • Ethical grounding
  • Global community
  • Employer demand

The sheer demand for the CFA® charter speaks to the difference it makes. More than 245,000 global candidates registered for the June 2020 CFA® exams that were scheduled to be held in 193 cities across 95 different countries.

For more information, refer to- CFA® Programs.

Why pursue CIPM?

CIPM is an intensely focused course with a rigorous study material that concentrates on broad topics like performance measurement, attribution, and appraisal. It is a specialized area with the domain of portfolio management at the core, allowing you to gain skills that show your mastery in finance through the acquisition of some invaluable set of skills in the certificate program.

These skills come in handy and are valued by employers and clients, increasing the confidence in your ability to bring new investment strategies to the table with certified good results. The program is an invaluable learning experience if your job requires the utilization of these kinds of skills.

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Reader Interactions


  1. MedoFin1 says

    CIPM & the CFA rather a “Complement” one another. The CFA is very rich but very general in its coverage. Whereas the CIPM (well to my understanding) is rather very specialized in a subset of the CFA program (Portfolio, GIPS, attribution, Mgr selection,risk, etc…).

    Thank you for the quality content rich blog & for the clear information on the programs!

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks for highlighting these important difference of CIPM and CFA.


  2. Barron Trump says

    Good summary. The CIPM is a little less well known, but it is not an easy version of the CFA. It is just as hard in complexity, but less demanding in range of content. So in that sense it is less demanding, but your math skills must be top notch.

    • Dheeraj says

      You are right Barron. Cannot agree more on this.


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