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CAIA charterholders, how useful and difficult do you find the charter?

Hello everyone. Was looking at potentially taking the CAIA charter, L1 in Sept. My background is in investment banking (fixed income) on the risk side, so I don’t really deal with alts on a daily basis. I do have the benefit of having gone through both the CFA and FRM curriculums with first-time passes across the board, but I might be doing further studies starting next year which is going to make L2 (if I pass in Sept) tough.

So I wanted to ask. From a pure learning perspective, is the CAIA a worthwhile investment of time? I recognise that there will be overlaps with other charters, but is the portion that focuses on alts valuable and interesting? Practically, how difficult is the material?

If I end up trying for the charter, I’ll definitely give it its due respect and work as hard as I can, so I’m not trying to start a inter-charter war. Thanks in advance for any thoughts and/or advice. Cheers.

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I have it. It’s interesting, a little over-priced, and it hasn’t been helpful to me so far. I think it’d be useful to someone who works for an endowment, pension, fund of funds, ect… but not for someone who analyzes the stocks and bonds themselves (maybe someone could argue you’re studying market participants, I dunno…) I don’t think it was that difficult but I did dedicate a lot of time per level.

If you’d like to dig deeper and form your own independent opinion, I would go on linkedin and look up people who have it and see if you want to do what they do. I’d also go into the job boards and search for “CAIA” to see if the jobs that show up are what you want to do. If I did that before I got mine, I don’t think I would have gone for it, tbh.

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!


My advice is before registering. buy the books and read them. If it interestsyou, do it. Simple as that. I find it complements what I do so there is vast overlap. The program is very much in infancy stages still but rapidly growing. I have spoke to many people who dont know anything about CAIA.

CAIA Charterholder

The CAIA designation is noticeably growing in recognition. Nonetheless, it’s an expensive investment of both time and money relative to the CFA which remains the industry standard.

I pursued CAIA to learn more about alternatives and found the content pretty interesting. But as a distressed debt research sales executive targeting sell-side firms, it’s not useful in my day-to-day. I went for CAIA because I knew it’d help my professional reputation and land some important meetings–which it certainly has.

Someone on here said that a lot of sales people go for CAIA and I’m realizing that’s true as I meet other charterholders. No shame in going for a less time consuming and more interesting alternative to the CFA.

Thanks for the opinions, everyone. I’ll definitely be taking a look at the curriculum before I decide, but it seems like the general consensus is that the material is interesting, albeit with large overlaps wrt the CFA material and that the charter itself may not be of much practical use in terms of job-seeking. I don’t mind that the material is easier, though. Other charters and serious quant-related programs exist if I just wanted difficulty. For anyone who has done this and has worked with alts, how relevant or applicable is the knowledge? If I studied for the FRM charter, I could basically plug and play the HW1F model for swaption valuation, are the CAIA takeways similarly slanted towards practical application?

(even tho passed both levels, i m not qualified to comment)
but wonder if you could share your experience on FRM part 2 (what study materials were used, preparation time, things to look out for…? 

Hello. Nah didn’t mean to limit it to charterholders. Was an open question to anyone who might have useful info on the charter :)

I did FRM1 in 7 weeks, FRM2 I had quite a bit more time, probably studied 3-4 months (not all of it was hardcore studying). I used the core texts + bionic turtle. The latter is very very helpful, especially when the core texts can be wordy. FRM2 was probably harder than FRM1, and I thought both levels were comparable to the more difficult levels of the CFA charter. The pass rates are naturally higher (in my opinion) because while the exam itself was challenging, the actual passing requirements are likely not that high. Everything needs to be covered – it isn’t like CFA1 where a broad understanding of the key points maps to a broad prediction of what’s going to be tested. There were some very important bits of theory that never got tested at all for FRM.

FRM1 in 7 weeks is a feat indeed!
For CAIA, the curriculum is enjoyable, it covers topics from HF, PE, endowments, commodities to impact investments … IMO, it is just not so dull like FRM. I am not quite sure about its current extent of recognition, however, given your background, I am sure that you can crack it with minimal time. I do see a number of GS analysts going after all 3 CFA, FRM, CAIA nowadays, even for intern analysts, so you might as well consider adding that if you have the time. But CAIA’s chapter events are very well organized, at least for my chapter. It does offer an excellent opportunity to mingle with AI and PB people. While concerning the exam fees, you might try applying for their exam scholarship, say by emails. I got mine for lvl 2 that way.
Hope it helps!

first CAIA forum post here…just sat for CFA LIII exam and am thinking of attempting CAIA LI this September.  If i started in July and maintained a 5 days/week schedule (excluding weekends), is it feasible to garner enough background to slip through? That way, i can take the winter months to prep for LII, if i’m lucky enough to get by.  Any thoughts/insight would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance!

ya don't know what ya don't know until ya know it.

Yes, I think it is doable if you put 3-4 hours a day and take the test in the latter part of exam band. I would recommend doing as many practice tests as possible from Kaplan Schweser and the exam posted.  Below is a previous post I made in a different topic forum for CAIA for study prep, 

“I used Kaplan and did the online classes.  Once I finished reviewing the Kaplan material, I did about 12 practice tests (1 part at a time - between kaplan, the CAIA mock) and made note cards as penance when I got something wrong.  I did about half the practice tests 4-5 weeks out and then reused some of them when it was not fresh in my mind.  This seemed to work for me, especially since I had ~200 note cards to focus on.  I cannot begin to stress trying the free response as if it was the real test.  If I got it wrong, I reviewed and put on note cards. I did 2 full practice tests (CAIA Mock and Kaplan Mock) 2 weeks before and 1 week before, then focused on my notecards.

One other thing - use the CAIA website material with their questions.  I actually wish I did that more. “

With your background, i think you can kill it with 150 hours or less. You might try a mock first and see what mark you score, then you can get a brief sense of the content and difficulty. 

thanks guys! i actually signed up and have been studying all week already.  almost through the first schweser book and am aiming to wrap book 2 in the next 2 weeks.  that way, the rest of July will be for q-bank and CAIA workbook then on to mocks and more refining in August. set the exam for 9/14, as it was latest available by me.  so far, so good, though. lots of overlap with CFA curriculum, from what i’ve seen thus far. 

ya don't know what ya don't know until ya know it.

update: took LI yesterday and feel alright about it.  definitely could’ve studied harder, but was suffering from post-CFA burnout a bit.  really only put in a little over 100 hrs and 4 mocks.  was averaging around 80% on all mocks taken, but feel like yesterday could’ve notched a bit lower than that.  missed some layups due to second guessing (~10%), had to make educated selections on about 25-35%, but felt fairly solid on the rest.  worst case scenario is high 60’s, but i think more reasonable estimate is low 70’s which should be enough from what i’ve gathered. 

definitely weird question spectrum on actual exam from straight definition FIB’s to crazy TVM calcs to very specific data point answers.  thankfully, the sheer volume of questions allows for wider margin of error when it comes to whiffing on a handful of questions. 

here’s to hoping i can continue with the quick turnaround! good luck to all who have sat or will sit for L2!

ya don't know what ya don't know until ya know it.

Congrats govt cheese … I am sure you will be fine…. I took mine yesterday too..  I feel like morning went really well and in the afternoon 10-12 questions were tricky..but only a handful of those were guesses…. we both should be fine…continuing our journey after L3..given that ..started a week or so before the L3 results…


I’m thinking about CAIA as well but I don’t like two things:

  • the price of the exam that seems too high
  • duty to pay annual fee of $350 after certification (I pay other annual fees as well and it’s not good for me to pay more than $1000 a year to renew certificates after CAIA completion).

Maybe finish the CFA exams first then once you get the charter, come back and do CAIA. You save on exam fees then since you’ll skip the first level.

Just to circle back to this old thread which I created, I sat for CAIA LII yesterday. I had to study for it within 7-8 weeks as I am concurrently doing a masters at a pretty good B-School. Can’t say for certain if I passed, but pretty confident. Thanks for all the advice you guys gave on this thread :)