FMVA Vs CFA: A Graduate Comparison (2021 Updated)

Hello, This is Thomas.

I hold FMVA & CFA Level 1 Chartered. I will share my personal experience of learning with both along with some pros, cons, and which one is best for you?

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This is an honest comparison written by both graduates🎓May receive a small referral fee for some of the courses we refer at no extra cost to you & Additionally, Get extra discounts in case you go through links mentioned.

About Myself?

I am a long-time academic in financial services, having completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance at San Francisco State University’s Lam Family School of Business and a Master’s Degree in Financial Analytics and Investment Management at Saint Mary’s College of California Graduate School of Economics.

My Business Administration prior to earning a professional designation as an accredited Financial Modeling and Valuations Analyst (“FMVA”) via The Corporate Finance Institute’s (“CFI”) professional technical skills certification program and curriculum, studying through the Chartered Financial Analyst curriculum through Level 2.

Also currently working as a Sell-Side M&A Investment Banking Analyst at a leading bank specializing in WealthTECH and Wealth and Investment Management. I am currently Pre-MBA and preparing for the next level of the CFA exam.

My Certifications?

Thomas fmva
CFA Thomas Wida

My Motivation To Enroll FMVA & CFA Program?

As a late entrant into the financial services career path and having been too late to enter via the traditional recruiting cycle as a Junior Summer Analyst intern through a Full-time position.

I sought out as many ways to bolster my application and enhancement relevant portfolio of technical skills and understanding of practical job functions in order to best qualify myself for a lateral entry into Corporate Finance and Investment Banking.

Steps I took included earning a Master’s Degree in Finance, Earning CFI’s FMVA professional designation, participating in the CFA curriculum, and joining a professional networking club focused on investment banking.

With CFA and CFI respective curriculum’s covering mostly similar material each in a unique application, with CFA being much more academic-focused and CFI being more technically focused in practical, on the job application, it offered me a unique opportunity to truly enhance my understanding of the career I sought to enter in an efficient and effective manner.

FMVA Vs CFA? Full Comparison In A Nutshell !

ParametersFMVACFA
Pricing $ 497-$847$3000-$4000
Duration:100 Hours600 Hours
Best For-Corporate Fin. Individuals
-Finance Students
-Bankers
-Experience Individuals
-Research Roles
-Advisory Roles
Unique Features -Interactive Practical Modules
-Get Access To All 4 Courses
-Good Reviews & Feedback
-In-depth Knowledge
-3 Final Exam
-Structured Curriculum
Work ExperienceNot required4 Years
ExamsOnline (Anywhere, Anytime)On-Site (Fixed Dates)
Free Trial30 Days Free Trial
Pros-Learn Practical Skills
-Credible Courses Globally
-Job Assistance
-Extensive Applications
-Most Credible Certification
Cons-Not Much Rigorous-Expensive & Time-Consuming
-Not For Beginners
Discounts 10% Off Code: OCGRAD10Not any active Offers
Go To FMVA Go To CFA
ParameterFMVACFA
Platform/Course Overview✔️
Curriculum & Study Materials✔️
Career Prospects ✔️
Pricing & Duration✔️
Final Exam & Pass Rate ✔️
Learning Experience✔️
Total Points42

Course Overview:

FMVA:

CFI’s FMVA curriculum is an immersive, all-encompassing platform that is designed to develop the technical skills used by all facts of financial services analysts from advanced financial modeling through presentation and pitch decks across multiple jobs and project types.

The program begins by building a strong foundational understanding of the tools, techniques, and software used by real professionals day today in the field and further expounds on that foundation in practical simulations which reflect the type of assignments analysts commonly face.

The program takes approximately 6 months and covers about 10 core concepts from introductory level information through advanced and expert level application. The curriculum concludes with a final exam which runs for approximately three and a half hours and includes modeling case studies amounting to about a third of the total exam.

Participation and completion of this program will truly enable an aspiring analyst to understand the most advanced and complex modeling practices across a wide array of functionality and applications.

CFA:

CFA Homepage

CFA curriculum is the most comprehensive finance-focused curriculum there is. It is incredibly rigorous, with three levels that each require an estimated 300 hours of total study time to cover the concepts within each respective curriculum.

In order to advance from level to level, a roughly three-hour proctored capstone exam is required in which recent pass rates show that less than 1 in 4 participants successfully pass. The CFA is the most prestigious professional designation in the financial services industry.

Winner: CFA

The CFA is unmatched in both rigor and reverence and remains the most sought after, difficult to obtain, and distinguished designation in Finance.

The FMVA curriculum and delivery of the program learning outcomes and objectives is superior to that of CFAI. The FMVA program is immersive and interactive and is incredibly well instructed with modules that allow you to put into practice the concepts covered throughout the program.

Go To CFA ➜

Who Should Do It?

FMVA:

The FMVA program is a top-notch option for anyone that would like to develop and sharpen their technical professional skills, especially as they relate directly to modeling and presentation decks in corporate finance.

This program is perfect for any Analyst level position.

CFA:

The CFA is ideal for those pursuing research or advisory roles. Unlike the FMVA program, it is not as explicitly relevant for those pursuing corporate finance career paths.

Career Applications/Job Opportunities: 

FMVA:

FMVA Vs CFA
FMVA Vs CFA

CFI’s FMVA program is excellent for analysts in all industries of financial services, especially investment banking and other corporate finance fields. It is unmatched in its comprehensive curriculum and ability to teach highly relevant and advanced skills that all analysts would benefit from knowing on the job

CFA:

The CFA designation is so well revered that it has practical benefits to any industry in finance but is especially useful for those in equity research, portfolio management, and investment advisory.

It’s the application in corporate finance is less relevant than that of the FMVA, but it is certainly a strong way to prove an academic commitment to the study of finance. It is especially relevant to the aforementioned equity, fixed-income, research, portfolio management, and investment advisory fields.

Winner: TIE

For Corporate Finance Fields, FMVA is superior, but for all research type fields and industries, the CFA is certainly much more relevant and practical.

With that said, the reverence associated with the CFA designation is pervasive enough to warrant a clear win in regard to career application and relevant job opportunities.

Check out this CFI review as well.

Impact Of Both On My Life:

While the FMVA has certainly equipped me with the relevant skills and tools to be successful as an M&A investment banker, the CFA has added a level of credibility to my resume that is nothing less than a gold star representing reverence and prestige.

Curriculum & Study Materials:

FMVA:

Corporate Finance Institute’s FMVA program has top-of-the-line presentations and case studies taught in a clear and engaging manner and supplemented by interactive modules along the way, which build on foundational skills through a relevant and realistic final concept product.

CFA:

The CFAI study resources are drought and dull. They read like dictionaries, especially the more technical concepts such as Quantitative Analysis or Financial reporting. The materials are sometimes enough for some candidates to pass the exams, but I found the 3rd party resources provided by Kaplan Schweser to be more engaging and easier to manage given the breadth of the curriculum concept coverage.

FMVA Vs CFA: How Are The Instructors?

FMVA:

Corporate Finance Institute’s instructors are passionate about the material they teach and therefore create a palpable sense of engagement with their students.

While the material can be dry at times, the interactive modules along the way really help keep you focused and engaged on the material. The instructors are a bit on the “goofy/dweeby” side but they definitely really know the concepts they teach inside and out.

CFA:

CFA does not explicitly have instructors. The Materials are exclusively available through the CFAI curriculum textbook series.

Thoughts On Pricing & Timeline:

FMVA:

FMVA Pricing

CFI’s FMVA program costs $800 for the full-immersion program, which includes access to Pitchbook Data, Macabacus Excel Plugin, and S&P Capital IQ. For the valuable skills this program provides, it is more than worth it.

CFA:

The cost to register for the CFA exam for the first time is approximately $1,200. The cost of optional private instruction or prep curriculums from leading providers such as Kaplan-Schweser, Manhattan Prep, etc is roughly $1,200.

The total cost of all 3 levels (assuming no retakes) and prep courses for each level is approximately $8,000, which is a significant investment. If you do decide to engage in this program and are paying for it out of pocket, it is imperative that you take it seriously.

Winner: FMVA

FMVA simply because the cost of the CFA is a significant investment. If you do decide to engage in this program and are paying for it out of pocket, it is imperative that you take it seriously.

In the next section of this FMVA Vs CFA, we will discuss Exam and their pass rate.

All About Final Exam & Exam Pass Rate:

FMVA:

CFI’s FMVA only requires one final exam to be passed. It is an open note and includes 3 modeling case studies in addition to a wide variety of relevant multiple-choice problems covering the concepts throughout the course.

The exam is difficult, and there are no retakes unless for special circumstances granted on a case-by-case basis. The required pass rate is 70%. The exam is 3 case studies and about 60 additional multiple-choice and matching problems.

CFA:

The CFAI curriculum has 3 levels, each with its own exam. The exam is offered quarterly and is now computer-based as of 2021. The exam is incredibly challenging, with pass rates from the most recent exam period as follows:

  • Level 1: 20% pass rate.

Level 1 is 4 hours proctored, with two sections each consisting of 90 3 answer Multiple Choice questions.

  • Level 2: 40% pass rate.

Level 2 is 4 hours consisting of 50 long-hand problems.

  • Level 3: 51% pass rate.

Level 3 is 3 hours consisting of 13 vignette-style questions.

The minimum required passing score is not public information but is estimated to be around 70-75%.

Winner: FMVA

The FMVA final is much more user-friendly as the recent pass rates and associated time requirements and financial commitment of the CFA has definitely brought into question whether or not the CFA curriculum is really worth the overall total cost of participating.

Go To FMVA ➜

Views On Learning Experience:

In this topic of FMVA Vs CFA we will talk about learning experiences.

FMVA:

The learning experience is practical and relevant and the quality of instruction and learning outcomes is immense.

The skills you will develop apart of this program will serve you daily in all practical applications and job functions.

CFA:

The learning experience is rigorous and impractical, as many of the concepts covered by the exam are often not relevant to any particular job function and are generally expansive. The material is learned to pass the exam, rather than to serve a practical function on the job.

Winner: FMVA

Due to the practicality of the skills you take away from the program, CFI’s FMVA is a clear winner. Oftentimes, candidates within the CFA curriculum refer to the material as slow and out quick.

Go To FMVA ➜

What I Liked? 

FMVA:

  • Highly relevant
  • Practical
  • Useful
  • Self Paced

CFA:

  • Esteemed
  • Highly Relevant
  • Career Opportunities
  • Immense Achievement
  • Reverence

What I Disliked?

FMVA:

Limited to only Corporate Finance Professionals, and particularly analyst level practicality.

CFA:

  • High Price Point
  • Incredibly Challenging and time-consuming

Conclusion: FMVA Vs CFA?

As I did, I believe they are both incredibly valuable designations and it is certainly a badge of honor to participate and complete both curriculums.

I recommend those early in their career to begin with the FMVA program and for those who are further along and more advanced, with less technical skill requirements on a day-to-day basis for their job role and function, and with a more accommodating work schedule to pursue the CFA.

fmva vs cfa

Thomas S. Wida

I am an Investment Banking Analyst Level 1 working in Financial Institutions Mergers & Acquisitions. – My Story

FaQs:

When is the right time to begin studying for the CFA and what is the total timeline?

I think the ideal time to begin studying for the CFA, in particular level 1, is your senior year of school where you have hopefully secured a full-time offer to begin that summer and your course workload is relatively lesser than the previous year or your first year on the job.

The total timeline is cooperative in the sense that to become a qualified charterholder, in addition to passing all three levels of the exam, which reasonably takes 3 years, candidates are required to possess 3 years of qualified work experience as well.

I recommend sitting for one exam a year and really making sure you are prepared by the time the exam date rolls around.

Is the FMVA only for those interested in banking?


CFI has done an incredible job of expanding the functional job sectors they provide curriculums for. There are now many more programs than just the FMVA program that cover things like research and equities, sales and trading, private equity and venture capital, credit analysis, and real estate.

Is the FMVA relevant for those that are not directly in a client-facing or advisory role?


Yes, the technical modeling skills you will learn through this curriculum can be universally applied to any job function.

Is the CFA a good idea for someone with a busy work schedule?


The CFA requires immense dedication and focus for a long stretch of time between registering and ultimately sitting for the exam. I recommend you really think about a realistic timeline and find ways to keep yourself accountable for sticking to that timeline.

Leave your honest thoughts on this FMVA Vs CFA.

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