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Top 10 Finance Certifications Programs

Updated on May 2, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Finance Certifications Programs

Financial certifications are obtained after completing required courses in finance like CFA (Certified Financial Analyst), FRM (Financial Risk Management), Financial modeling, Investment banking courses, etc.

  1. CFA® – Chartered Financial Analyst
  2. CPA – Certified Public Accountant
  3. FRM – Financial Risk Manager
  4. CFP – Certified Financial Planner
  5. CIMA – Charted Institute of Management Accountants
  6. ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  7. CAIA – Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst
  8. ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant
  9. CMA – Certified Management Accountant
  10. CMFC – Chartered Mutual Fund Counsellor

Let’s look at the top finance certifications program (in no particular order)

Finance Certification Programs

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#1 CFA® – Chartered Financial Analyst®

It is one of the best finance certifications programs you should pursue if you’re looking to master financial management and investment. Finance certifications alone are enough to catapult your career to the next level. It has three levels that you need to clear, and you also need to have four years of full-time, relevant experience to get certified. The course is very rigorous, and you need to study hard to clear it. The pass rate is lower than any other finance certifications – overall, the pass rate of CFA is less than 20%.

Career / Roles – For availing of jobs in asset management, private equity, equity research, investment banking, you should do CFA finance certifications. If you want to make a career in the world of investment and have the option of only one finance certification, CFA would be the only one you should choose.

#2 CPA – Certified Public Accountant

If you love accounting (more than finance), this certification is the best of the best. It is authorized by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). This finance certification is specifically designed for accountants and tax consultants. CPA certification requires 150 hours of intensive study. And then you need to clear a tough exam.

The cost of the study is around $3000. Along with that, you need to get a CPA license. And if you prepare well, you can clear the exam. The pass rate for the first attempt has been around 50%.

Career / Roles – If you want a career in accounting, this finance certification program will help. The only demerit of this finance certification is its narrow focus on corporate finance.

#3 FRM – Financial Risk Manager

If you want to become a risk analyst in an organization or make your mark in risk management, this is the ideal certification. You can also help clients that want to make prudent investment decisions. This certification doesn’t cost much – it costs around $1500, and you can complete FRM-I and FRM-II in a year (but it’s not that easy). The pass rate of FRM is around 50%, but every year the percentage changes. FRM is administered by GARP (The Global Association of Risk Professionals).

Career / Roles – FRM is one of the niche finance certifications programs and only targets a specific market. The only con of this finance certification is that the subject material won’t apply to all finance professionals until they’re interested in risk analysis and management.

#4 CFP – Certified Financial Planner

If you want to hire a financial planner or be one, you should look out for CFP certification. CFP is not only about just finance, but it’s also about understanding one critical element of business: client-relationship. To pass the CFP, you need to clear a 7-hour test. If you want to pass CFP, you need to study at least 1000 hours. The only con of this certification is that it is too narrow in focus. However, after passing this exam, you can be part of wealth management, retail banking, and private banking careers. This finance certification program is top-notch, and it also costs less, only around $2000. The overall pass rate for CFP was 64% in the year 2017.

Career / Roles – If you want to be part of wealth management, retail banking, and private banking careers

#5 CIMA

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK) is for looking for comprehensive knowledge in management accounting. It widens the scope of accounting by aligning its curriculum with strategic and risk management, which is very useful from a business management point of view.

It is a comprehensive 4-tier certification program divided into certificate and professional levels. One can earn a CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting by completing the basic level and qualifying for professional-level studies, further divided into three learning pillars, including enterprise, performance, and financial knowledge areas. Each of these pillars is further sub-divided into operational, management, and strategic levels, resulting in nine knowledge areas covered as part of professional studies.

On completing the strategic level, 3-year work experience verified by CIMA Institute would help earn the designation of CIMA Member.

Career / Roles – This finance certification program can help build a career in advanced management accounting, including career roles of Management Accountant, Financial Analyst, Finance Manager, and Internal Audit Manager among others.

#6 ACCA

The association of chartered certified accountants is a very competent and leading accounting global body; their qualification gives you recognition as an employee who has the ability in all aspects of the business. A Chartered Certified Accountant is protected legally as anyone who claims to be a chartered certified accountant has to be a member of ACCA.

  • Exams: ACCA consists of a total of 14 written examinations in English, along with a business experience that is relevant enough. 4 exams can be taken up in each part which normally takes about 2 to 3 years to clear; however, the maximum time given to clear ACCA is ten years.
  • ACCA exam dates: These exams are held twice a year, in June and December.
  • Eligibility: Registering in different countries has different eligibility criteria for this course. Also, the candidate needs to have relevant experience to have this finance certification.

Career / Roles – Banker, Consultant, Auditor, taxation, and law professionals.

#7 CAIA – Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst

If you’re particularly interested in hedge funds or asset management, this is the ideal finance certification program for you. By doing this certification, you would be able to catapult your career toward the hedge fund or asset management industries. The chief subjects covered under this finance certification are private equity, hedge funds, ethics, risk management, asset allocation, and structured products. The certification fees are geared toward a higher range, i.e., around $3000. The certification is divided into two levels. The pass rate of this certification is quite high, around 70%. CAIA certification would take around 12 to 18 months to complete. Since it’s focused on very niche subjects, the scope of the certification is also limited.

Career / Roles – hedge fund or asset management industries

#8 ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant

If you’re somehow unable to go for CFP certification, you can go for ChFC certification. This certification is a great alternative because it not only covers everything you will learn in CFP, it will also help you specialize. For example, the CFP certification will teach you how to be a financial planner in a generic sense. ChFC certification will help you specialize in financial planning, e.g., for small businesses or divorce. If you want to specialize in financial planning, you need to study for four months under this certification and clear the exam. Though not a very popular finance certification, it is one of the game-changers in financial planning. The American College of Financial Services administers it.

Career / Roles – Financial Planner, Wealth Management

#9 CMA – Certified Management Accountant

If you want to get into management accounting, you won’t get any better certification than this. The finance certifications program is authorized by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). It is one of the most sought-after finance certifications & accounting. After passing out from CMA, you will get more opportunities on the corporate side. The whole course is divided into two parts. And as a whole, you need to sit for 11 financial competency tests. In simple words, this certification will give you a strategic advantage in the field of management and accounting. As per the study, a CMA earns 47% more than any other professional in the US. If a lucrative career and financial gains seem like a good idea, you should go for CMA certification.

Career / Roles – Management Accountant, Accounting

#10 CMFC – Chartered Mutual Fund Counsellor

If you want to multiply your money, you would like to invest in mutual funds. And for that, you need someone who is specialized in mutual funds. If your mutual fund advisor has done CMFC certification, then be assured that you’re in good hands. Or else, if you want to do a finance certification program in a mutual fund, look no further than chartered mutual fund counselor certification. It is a short course of 10 weeks. And you need to pass the exam after the course. The College administers this course for Financial Planning. This course includes project work regarding the mutual fund industry and related to other investment products.

Career/ Roles – Wealth management, Mutual Fund Advisor

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