Difference Between NCFM and CFA

NCFM stands for NSE Certification in Financial Market and is organized by NSE (National Stock Exchange), India to train students on equity research, mutual funds, financial markets, currency derivatives, and capital market. Whereas, CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst and is offered by CFA Institute, USA to equip candidates in topics like asset valuation, investment tools, portfolio management, etc.


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Appearing for CFA Level 1 examCFA Level 1 ExamThe CFA exam is regarded as one of the most difficult to crack. Your preparation, time management, and sequence plays will all play an important role in your more? – Do have a look at this awesome 70+ hours of CFA level 1 Tutorials

The article is articulated in this order:

  1. NCFM vs CFA® Infographics
  2. What is NSE’s Certification in Financial Markets (NCFM)?
  3. What is the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charter?
  4. NCFM vs CFA® Exam Requirements
  5. Why pursue NCFM?
  6. Why pursue the CFA® designation?

NCFM vs CFA Infographics

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


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NCFM vs CFA – Comparative Table

Organizing bodyThe  NCFM exams are controlled and managed by the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. (NSE), India.The CFA exams are controlled and managed by the CFA Institute, USA.
PatternThe course is divided into 3 modules.
  • Foundation module
  • Intermediate module
  • Advanced module
The course is divided into 3 levels.
  • Level I
  • Level II
  • Level III
Duration of courseThere is no mandatory time limit. The time taken by candidates to complete each module varies from a few weeks to one month.If a candidate can clear all the exams in his/ her first attempt, then the course can be completed in 4 years.
SyllabusThe syllabus revolves around The syllabus revolves around
Exam feesThe overall cost of the total 48 sub-modules lies in the range of $1,500 to $1,700, which includes exam fees and taxes. The cost of most of the sub-modules is around $30.The course’s overall cost lies in the range of $2,550 to$3,450, which includes an enrollment fee of $450 and the remaining is the exam fees that vary depending on the time of registration.
JobsSome of the common profiles include

Some of the common profiles include

DifficultyThe passing criterion is 50%-60% for most of the exams, and candidate feedbacks suggest that the exams are fairly easy. However, there is no information available pertaining to the success rate of the candidates.The difficulty level is very high. During June 2019, the pass rates for Level I, Level II, and Level III were 41%, 44%, and 56% respectively.
Exam dateThe exams are conducted online on all working days.The 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

What is NSE’s Certification in Financial Markets (NCFM)?

The NCFM is a certification program for individuals who wish to learn the fundamentals of the capital markets to make their career in India’s financial markets. The certified course is necessary according to the industry’s regulations if one is keen to be a part of the financial markets. The course provides a basic understanding of the concepts related to the different sections of the investment segment, the primary and the secondary markets, the derivatives market, and the financial statement analysis. The course comprises of theory as well as practical application lessons with a wide range of perspectives. The NCFM program training is conducted by the in house faculty of reliance Leap /IDBI INteq / PIFM/. The candidates in order to qualify to require about 30 hours of intervention before they embark upon to give the online test of the National Stock Exchange and get the NCFM certificate.

What is the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) charter?

The CFA® Program focuses on investment management. The top employers of 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.

NCFM vs CFA Exam Requirements


No specific age or qualification is required for taking the certification examination. Computer literacy will be an added advantage, considering the test is completely online-based. The following persons are eligible to take the NCFM Certification Examination:

  1. All approved users and sales personnel of trading members of recognized stock exchangesStock ExchangesStock exchange refers to a market that facilitates the buying and selling of listed securities such as public company stocks, exchange-traded funds, debt instruments, options, etc., as per the standard regulations and guidelines—for instance, NYSE and more.
  2. Interested students/professionals
  3. Any other individuals

Once registered in the NCFM program, a candidate can take as many modules and several attempts as desired by paying the Enrollment Fees for every attempt.


To qualify for the CFA® program, a candidate must have a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree or be in the final year of his bachelor’s degree program (an update is required on attaining the degree to qualify for the Level II) or a minimum of four years of professional experience. The CFA® certificate is only awarded after a candidate attains four years of experience even after clearing the exam.

Why pursue NCFM?

NCFM is considered a minimum benchmark course for serious individuals in pursuing their career in the financial industry. Employers ensure that the candidates who apply for jobs relevant to them have at least passed out the NCFM program. It provides basic knowledge and understanding of the financial marketsUnderstanding Of The Financial 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. The NCFM is a straightforward exam to crack and cost-effective and achieving it only adds to your merit in the resume. The certificate also depicts the candidate’s keenness to lap information and knowledge related to their field despite not finding any high favour with the employers, unlike the reputed certificate programs like CFA® and FRM.

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.

Other key comparisons


Both the NCFM vs CFA educational program and module help a candidate develop his aptitude according to the industry’s current practice.  Achieving the certificate requires rigorous studying and hard work and therefore, a chance to stand out in the eyes of your employer. Your practical skills would be an asset and provide you with a competitive edge and also boost the chance of a hike in the future.

In general, both NCFM is more about financial markets, whereas CFA® gives you a good grounding base about the investment industry. Choose your interest wisely! All the Best.

This has been a guide to NCFM vs CFA.  Here we discuss the differences between NCFM and CFA along with infographics and why to pursue them. You may also look at the following articles for more information –

Reader Interactions


  1. Milan says

    Brilliant resource with useful blogs. As I also want to know that if I want to change my career from Science field to finance or marketing then which certification I should go for? Whether I should go for CFA or MBA? Please throw some light on this Sir!

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for the note. Well if you want to change your field and want to learn new skill sets or if you want to move from science to finance or marketing then I must say MBA is a good fit for you. With a MBA degree from one of the top institute can land you in a good company. Also you can become an investment banker or a consultant as there are lots of investment banks and consulting firms which are looking for fresh MBA talent.

      Also, do have a look at this article on CFA vs MBA for further details

  2. Joy says

    Thanks for sharing such knowledgeable post. I also wanted some advice from you that is for, after completing CFA, which industry or occupation I need to go for?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      If you have done CFA, there are many opportunities for you. You yourself must decide beforehand which occupation or industry you must go for. As I want to say you can also go for Portfolio Management or opt for research analysis profile.

  3. Harsh says

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I am IT professional and have 1.5 years of experience in compliance reporting domain. Over this span I’ve gained interest in finance and financial markets.

    I am researching on options from which,
    – I can feed my interest in financial markets without leaving my job or making big time or financial commitments like MBA or CFA
    – Switching from pure tech role to techno-functional/BA roles for now
    – Enter pure finance roles if I find this is my passion

    What are my options and where do I start ?


    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Harsh,

      I would go with the first option where you can enroll for CFA Level 1 and see if you really like Finance. CFA Level 1 itself will give you lot of clarity on how to move forward.

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