CAIA to Allow CFA Candidates to Potentially Skip CAIA Level I

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​The Chartered Alternative Investment Association (CAIA), the leader in the alternative investment education space has recently announced a pilot program, jointly developed with CFA Institute, to allow candidates to ‘stack’ their acquired knowledge and credentials, allowing them to skip CAIA Level I and move directly to Level II of their CAIA exam.

Read on to find out what the pilot program is about, and how you can benefit from it!

What is the CAIA pilot program?

The CAIA pilot program allows CFA charterholders to ‘skip’ CAIA Level I and proceed directly to CAIA Level II. The CAIA exam is a two-part exam, so skipping Level I means that you only have to pass one exam to obtain your CAIA qualification. (You can get more information about the CAIA qualification from our guide here.)

Allowing CFA charterholders to get waivers or skip certain qualification steps is not new. Since March 2017, CFA charterholders have been able to skip the Level I exam of the CIPM program as well. 

CFA charterholders “perform swimmingly well” in CIPM

Candidates that will benefit from the pilot program also have past CFA charterholders to thank, says Horan. “We’ve observed that CFA charterholders have been performing swimmingly well in the CIPM exams, which is also one of the reasons why we think there is also great potential for a pilot program for the CAIA program.”

How the CAIA pilot program was developed

“After developing the CIPM waiver program, Bill (William J. Kelly, CEO of CAIA) and I got to discussing CAIA,” states Stephen Horan, Ph.D., CFA, CIPM, MD of Credentialing at CFA Institute. “When we mapped the CAIA and CFA curriculum to each other, we found out that 80-85% of the CAIA Level I curriculum were effectively covered in Levels I to III of the CFA curriculum. “

Benefits to the asset management industry

Horan also asserts that this pilot program is good for everyone in the industry. “The CAIA and CFA qualifications are also keenly aligned in the asset allocator space. By making the path to qualification more efficient for professionals, this benefits the industry by increasing the average level of training and knowledge among its professionals, all within an ethical framework.”

How long will the CAIA pilot program last?

The pilot program will be run for 2-4 exam cycles (i.e. 1-2 years). CAIA will then decide on whether to extend the program depending on the participation levels and the results of the participating candidates.

Candidate requirements for the CAIA pilot program

To be eligible for the pilot program, candidates must:

  • Not have any prior CAIA exam history
  • Be a CFA charterholder ‘in good standing’ – i.e. no past or current PCP cases
  • Have a verifiable CFA digital badge – this is to provide CAIA a simple way to verify CFA eligibility

There is currently a limit of 500 participants per exam cycle on a first-come-first-served basis – so if you’re interested in this pilot program you should apply as soon as possible!

Is reattempting under the pilot program allowed?

We asked about candidates reattempting CAIA Level II, after having failed it under the pilot program. “As long as the pilot program is still active, candidates should be able to re-register for subsequent attempts on CAIA Level II,” states Horan.

Will we ever see a CFA pilot program, from say CAIA or a CFA affiliated university?

However, when asked about the chances of a similar pilot program for the CFA program, Horan think’s it’s unlikely to happen. “The CAIA qualification is a specialized qualification focused more narrowly on alternative investments. When contrasted with the broader scope of the CFA curriculum, we find that the argument for skipping, say, CFA Level I, is a lot more difficult to justify, so it’s unlikely to happen. This is simply a reflection of CAIA focusing on a specialised designation rather than the generalist knowledge base as the CFA Program.”

CFA affiliated universities are also unlikely to ever be allowed to skip CFA levels. “Our University Affiliation Program has been going on for nearly 15 years now. There are now over 300 universities that implement at least 70% of the CFA curriculum into their economics and finance courses. However, the variation and fragmentation across universities worldwide, as well as  the lack of standardisation in testing would make a similar program highly unlikely at this stage.”

What are your thoughts on CAIA’s pilot program? Let us know in the comments.

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