Connection between CFA and Financial Modeling

Finance evolves yearly, demanding strategic thinking and constant learning. The CFA designation, a gold standard, signifies top-notch skills. Yet, Financial Modeling grabs attention.

Ever wondered about the intersection of CFA and Financial Modeling? The relationship is intriguing. While CFA offers prestige, Financial Modeling provides accessible practical skills.

Proficiency in financial modeling enhances CFA pursuits. In simple terms, mastering both is pivotal for a successful finance career. CFA imparts theoretical knowledge, while Financial Modeling equips you with practical skills. It’s the best of both worlds in your finance toolkit!

Understanding Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

CFA is a prestigious qualification from the globally recognized CFA Institute. To become a CFA, you must pass three exams covering subjects like accounting, economics, ethics, and security analysis, in addition to holding a bachelor’s degree and having at least four years of work experience. The certification offers global recognition, leading to improved job opportunities and higher earning potential, with over 160,000 CFAs working in 164 countries across diverse industries.

Diverse subjects covered in the three CFA exam levels

The CFA Program now includes Practical Skills Modules (PSM) for hands-on training, allowing candidates to apply curriculum knowledge to real-world situations. PSMs utilize videos, multiple-choice questions, guided practice, and case studies, requiring completion at each level before exam results. Introduced from the February 2024 exam for Level 1 and May 2024 for Level 2, PSMs for Level 3 will commence in 2025. Each module takes 10-15 hours to finish, offering flexibility in scheduling during exam preparation.

Level 1 topics:

  • Financial Modeling
  • Python Programming Fundamentals

Financial Modeling, a key component of the PSM, is crucial for finance professionals as it teaches them how to build financial models and analyze complex financial data. It allows them to make informed decisions in investment management and financial analysis.

Level 2 topics:

  • Python Programming Fundamentals
  • Analyst Skills
  • Python, Data Science & AI

For over a decade, IMS ProSchool has been leading the way, teaching Python and Financial Modeling to students. As pioneers, we were among the first in India to incorporate these critical skills into the CFA curriculum.

The CFA Institute has found three key elements for CFA exam success:

  • A long study plan
  • Attempting many practice problems
  • Completing several mock exams

Adding practice and mock exams can double your chances of passing. To aid preparation, the CFA Institute now offers a Level 1 Practice Pack. This includes 1,000 extra practice questions and six mock exams on top of the standard study materials. Currently, this pack is only available for Level 1 candidates.

Also Read – CFA Exam and Investment Banking. How to become an investment banker.

CFA Level 3 Pathways

In April 2021, the CFA Institute analyzed job roles and market trends to create specialized pathways. They identified two sectors: Private Wealth and Private Markets. 

Starting in 2025, Level 3 candidates can choose from three pathways—Private Wealth, Private Markets, and Portfolio Management. 

Each pathway includes a core curriculum with specialized content. Candidates select their pathway when registering, based on their interests and career goals.

CFA Level 1 & Level 2 Digital Badges

In the CFA program, candidates achieve significant milestones on their way to becoming charter holders. To recognize these accomplishments, the CFA Institute introduced digital badges in 2023 for Level 1 and Level 2 completions. These badges, easily verifiable, elevate a candidate’s visibility and demonstrate commitment, skills, professionalism, and ethical practices, adding value to their progress.

Focused Curriculum

The CFA Institute streamlined the Level 1 curriculum by removing content like the time-value of money, basic statistics, microeconomics, and introduction to company accounts. This material will now be offered separately as reference material for registered candidates, freeing up exam time for advanced concepts and practical skills modules. Free companion pre-read materials are available for those reviewing or covering these topics.

Starting in 2024, all candidates will be tested on the updated Level 1 curriculum.

2024 CFA Level 1 Curriculum Changes

The CFA Level 1 curriculum for 2024 reflects significant changes in response to the evolving CFA Program. 

Notable updates include a shift to a Learning Module (LM) structure, replacing Readings. 

LMs are more focused lessons with visuals and practical content. 

While some areas like Portfolio Management, Derivatives, and Ethics remain unchanged, others have been reorganized or refreshed. 

The 2024 curriculum comprises 93 Learning Modules, with new additions in areas like Quantitative Methods, Fixed Income, and Alternative Investments, including modules on Introduction to Geopolitics, Corporate Structures and Ownership, and Business Models.

2024 CFA Level 2 Curriculum Changes

The CFA program is transitioning from Readings to Learning Modules (LMs) for a more concise and practical format tailored to candidates’ study habits.

Key Changes:

  • Quantitative Methods and Alternative Investment Readings are now smaller Learning Modules.
  • “Employee Compensation: Post Employment and Share-based” in Financial Statement Analysis has been significantly updated.
  • “Private Company Valuation” in Equity has undergone major changes in Learning Outcome Statements (LOS).

LM Overview:

  • The 2024 CFA Level 2 Curriculum has 47 LMs, down from 49 in 2023.
  • Three LMs were removed, and one new LM, “Hedge Fund Strategies,” was added.
  • “Employee Compensation: Post Employment and Share-based” and “Private Company Valuation” saw substantial updates, while other LMs had minor changes.

2024 CFA Level 3 Curriculum Changes

The changes in the 2024 CFA Level 3 curriculum are minimal but worth noting:

Portfolio Management:

  • Minor updates have been made, including the removal of 1-2 Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) or updates to data/exhibits.


  • The Currency Management reading has been moved to Economics.

Number of Readings:

  • The 2024 CFA Level 3 Curriculum includes 33 readings, compared to 35 in 2023.
  • Two readings from 2023 have been removed:
    • Reading 1: The Behavioral Biases of Individuals
    • Reading 2: Behavioral Finance & Investment Processes

View the updated 2024 CFA Curriculum for more details.

84% Of Our Students Recommend That You Join Proschool For CFA

Decoding Financial Modeling

Financial Modeling is like a sidekick to CFA—it’s essential on its own. It’s a practical program where you play with Excel, check out reports, and study how companies do their money stuff. While CFA teaches you big concepts, Financial Modeling gives you hands-on skills for real finance jobs. You can take it before, during, or after CFA.

Okay, let’s deep-dive a bit. Financial modeling is super important for finance jobs. It helps make smart money decisions by turning heaps of data into useful predictions. The course is like a guide to building financial models, similar to what big shots on Wall Street use. It shows you tricks in Excel and helps you design models that tell a company’s past, present, and future money story.

Why is this important? Well, accurate financial models help in making decisions about buying stuff, planning for the future, and handling surprises. Companies use them for big moves like mergers, growth plans, and budgeting. It’s like having a finance crystal ball—it helps you figure out what might happen next.

In simpler terms, financial modeling is like having a Swiss army knife for finance—it’s handy for figuring out how much something is worth, making predictions, planning for the future, handling risks, deciding where to invest money, and making better money decisions. It’s like a crystal ball that helps see what might happen next and guides you in making smarter choices.

Financial modeling, like a Swiss army knife for finance, serves various purposes:

  • Valuation: Determines the worth of assets, such as companies or investments.
  • Projections: Predict future outcomes based on past information for planning and decision-making.
  • Strategic Planning: Facilitates smart future planning by illustrating the financial impact of different choices.
  • Risk Analysis: Assesses potential risks and their likelihood, aiding in preparation for the unexpected.
  • Capital Budgeting: Guides investment decisions by calculating the worthiness of potential investments.

In short, financial modeling is like a crystal ball for finance—it helps see what might happen next and make better decisions.

Also Read – Top Job profiles & 5 tips to get a job after passing CFA level 1

The Interplay: How CFA and Financial Modeling Align

The CFA Financial Modeling interplay can be termed a dynamic duo in the finance world, working together to analyze and make sense of complex financial data.

Here’s how they team up:

  • Comprehensive Analysis:
      • CFA covers financial analysis, investment, and ethics.
      • Financial modeling turns this into detailed models for company and investment analysis.
  • Decision Making:
      • CFA guides informed investment decisions.
      • Financial modeling quantifies decisions for potential outcomes.
  • Risk Management:
      • Both CFA and financial modeling identify and manage investment risks.
      • CFA teaches risk management; modeling quantifies risks.
  • Communication:
      • CFA emphasizes effective financial communication.
      • Financial modeling translates complex data into clear visual insights.
  • Career Advancement:
    • Having CFA and financial modeling skills opens diverse finance roles.
    • Enhances professionals’ ability to analyze, interpret, and communicate financial information.

CFA provides theoretical knowledge (book smarts), and financial modeling offers practical skills (street smarts). This powerful combination allows professionals to understand complex concepts and apply them effectively in real-world finance scenarios. It’s like having the “whys” and “hows” of finance covered—making you well-rounded and impactful in your finance career.

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Advantages of Pursuing Both: CFA and Financial Modeling

CFA focuses on advanced financial topics, while Financial Modeling creates detailed financial plans for organizations. CFA provides theoretical knowledge, and Financial Modeling offers practical skills, serving as a bridge between theory and real-world application. These skills enhance a CFA professional’s ability to meet financial goals, making Financial Modeling a crucial stepping stone to becoming a successful CFA charter holder.

Major Concepts you’ll be learning if you compliment a CFA charter with a Financial Modeling course.

Financial modeling is particularly valuable for those pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. It provides practical knowledge that complements CFA studies.

  • Enhances the accuracy of financial forecasts for businesses
  • Provides an in-depth understanding of business operations
  • Minimizes financial risks and builds stable financial models
  • Contributes to developing funding strategies that support overall business objectives

CFA Exams and Financial Modeling: A Symbiotic Relationship

Financial modeling skills can greatly benefit CFA candidates in their exam preparations in several ways:

Practical Use:

  • Apply CFA concepts to real-world situations with modeling.
  • Hands-on experience makes theory clearer.

Problem-Solving Skills:

  • Practice solving CFA-like problems using financial models.
  • Sharpens your problem-solving skills.

Understanding Statements:

  • Model to create and grasp financial statements, crucial for CFA.
  • Makes reading statements easier.

Smart Thinking:

  • Financial modeling enhances smart thinking and data understanding.
  • Perfect for topics like Financial Statement Analysis.

Real-world Examples:

  • Work on real money situations to see CFA concepts in action.
  • Makes studying for CFA more enjoyable and memorable.

Moreover, the integration of CFA concepts and financial modeling enhances decision-making and financial analysis. Here are a few scenarios:

Application Area

CFA Concepts

Financial Modeling

Investment Management

– Portfolio management – Risk assessment – Market analysis

– Building models for projecting investment returns – Assessing risk exposure – Optimizing portfolio allocations

Valuation and Mergers & Acquisitions

– Company valuation methods – Financial statement analysis – Merger analysis

– Creating complex valuation models – Assessing the fair value of companies – Evaluating potential mergers or acquisitions – Analyzing financial statements

Equity Research

– Analyzing financial statements – Industry trends – Company performance

– Developing models for forecasting company earnings – Assessing the impact of industry trends – Making investment recommendations

Risk Management

– Understanding financial risks (market, credit, operational)

– Building risk assessment models – Quantifying and managing different types of risks – Stress testing portfolios – Ensuring compliance with risk management policies

Corporate Finance and Financial Planning

– Capital budgeting – Cost of capital – Financial strategy

– Creating financial plans and budgeting models – Developing cash flow projections – Supporting strategic financial decision-making within a company

Private Equity and Venture Capital

– Analyzing investment opportunities – Due diligence – Exit strategies

– Building detailed financial models for potential investments – Assessing financial health of target companies – Projecting returns on investment

Real Estate Finance

– Real estate valuation – Market analysis – Financing structures

– Developing models to assess the feasibility of real estate projects – Analyzing cash flows – Determining optimal financing structure

Also Read – How to Learn Financial Modelling: Online, Offline & Self-Learning Options

Career Trajectories: CFA vs Financial Modeling vs Both



Financial Modeling

CFA + Financial Modeling

Primary Focus

– In-depth financial analysis and investment management.

– Building detailed financial models for decision-making.

– Comprehensive financial analysis with a strong modeling foundation.

Industry Emphasis

– Investment banking, asset management, equity research.

– Corporate finance, investment banking, consulting.

– Diverse industries, including finance, consulting, and strategic roles.

Key Skills Developed

– Portfolio management, risk assessment, market analysis.

– Advanced modeling techniques, valuation, and financial forecasting.

– Holistic financial analysis, combining CFA knowledge with modeling expertise.

Typical Job Roles

– Portfolio Manager, Equity Analyst, Risk Manager.

– Financial Analyst, Business Analyst, Investment Banker.

– Financial Consultant, Strategic Analyst, Financial Planning Manager.

Certification Timeframe

– 3 levels, minimum 2.5 to 4 years.

– Varies (weeks to months, depending on courses taken).

– Sequential: CFA first (2.5 to 4 years), then modeling courses.

Global Recognition

– Widely recognized globally in finance and investment.

– Recognized in finance and related fields.

– Both CFA and modeling skills enhance global employability.

Networking Opportunities

– Extensive networking opportunities through CFA Institute.

– Networking within finance and modeling communities.

– Combined networking advantages in both CFA and modeling circles.

Career Advancement

– Advancement in investment management and finance roles.

– Progression to senior financial and strategic positions.

– Versatile career progression with broader opportunities.

Cost of Certification

– Registration fees and study materials for three levels.

– Course fees for modeling training programs.

– The combined cost of CFA registration and modeling courses.

Practical Application

– Emphasis on theoretical knowledge and practical application.

– Focus on hands-on application of financial modeling skills.

– Application of both theoretical CFA concepts and practical modeling skills.

Ideal for…

– Those seeking a career in traditional finance roles.

– Individuals interested in finance with a modeling focus.

– Professionals wanting a well-rounded skill set for diverse finance roles.

Also Read – How to Become an Investment Banker in India?

CFA Financial Modeling Differences



Financial Modeling


Three exam levels:

– Level 1

– Level 2

– Level 3


– Economics

– Fixed Income

– Financial Reporting and Analysis

– Corporate Finance

– Equity Investments

– Derivatives

– Alternative Investments

– Portfolio Management

– Quantitative Methods

– Ethical and Professional Standards

Detailed representation of creating and studying financial models


– Company Valuation

– Comparable Company Analysis

– Precedent Transaction Analysis

– Discounted Cash Flow Analysis

– Weighted Average Cost of Capital

– Building Cash Flow Models

– Making and Projecting Financial Statements

Other components may vary by institute.

Job Prospects

– Portfolio Manager

– Risk Analyst or Risk Manager

– Research Analyst

– Investment Banker

– Wealth Manager

– Accountant or Auditor

– Equity Research Analyst

– Financial Planner or Analyst

– Credit Analyst

– Corporate Finance

– Project Finance

– Consultancy

The Practical Importance of Financial Modeling Before CFA

  • Relate CFA concepts to real-world scenarios.
  • Hone skills for financial analysis and investment assessment.
  • Navigate large datasets efficiently.
  • Easily apply quantitative techniques in the CFA program.
  • Gain a head start in understanding valuation methods.
  • Develop efficient time management.
  • Solve complex, real-world problems.
  • Dual expertise is highly valued by employers.
  • Open doors to diverse finance roles.
  • Enhance Excel skills for financial analysis and modeling.

Explore financial excellence with IMS Proschool’s Financial Modeling course. Pioneers since 2008, we offer hands-on learning, flexible schedules, and certifications from NSDC and NSE. Our commitment to your success includes placement assistance with an average salary of 4.5 LPA. Chart your career path, whether as an Equity Analyst, in Investment Banking or pursuing the CFA designation. Join us for a dynamic education in finance!


  1. Can I pursue a CFA without prior financial modeling experience?

Yes, CFA welcomes candidates without prior financial modeling experience. It’s designed for diverse backgrounds, and while helpful, financial modeling skills are not mandatory. The curriculum offers a comprehensive foundation.

  1. Why is learning financial modeling with CFA important?

It enhances the practical application of CFA’s theoretical concepts, allowing effective analysis of financial data. This hands-on approach complements CFA’s knowledge.

  1. How does financial modeling contribute to CFA exam success?

Financial modeling provides a practical understanding of financial concepts, reinforcing theoretical knowledge. Analytical and problem-solving skills developed through modeling enhance overall exam performance.

  1. Industries valuing both CFA and financial modeling skills?

Yes, industries like investment banking, private equity, equity research, and corporate finance highly value professionals with both CFA and financial modeling skills, crucial for in-depth financial analysis and decision-making.

  1. Recommended timeline for studying financial modeling before CFA enrollment?

While flexible, having a basic understanding before starting CFA is advisable. A few weeks to months of study establishes a solid foundation. Many integrate modeling training into overall preparation for a seamless transition into CFA’s advanced concepts.