Newbie to CAIA

Since I am out of work at the moment I am thinking of taking either the CFA or CAIA. I need to keep the ball rolling and get some retraining instead of idling around. However, I have a hard time deciding on which one to go for, CFA or CAIA. I am sure most of you did go through the same thinking process before and each person will have his/her own reasons and circumstances to justify taking either one (or both). I still need to think deep before jumping into either one of them, but as of this moment, I’m more leaning toward the CAIA. Anyway, regarding the level I exam, do the CAIA organization supply the reading materials like the CFA does. And If not, can you get by without studying the assigned “text books” and rely solely on the test prep or study notes offered by Schweser or the like? TIA, Pete

Pete, The CAIA is focused only for alternative asset analysis while the CFA is broad on investment/financial analysis, portfolio management, and equity research. I passed Level 1 of the CFA and I’m now studying for Level 2 of the CFA and Level 1 of the CAIA. I am using 3rd party notes, and from the information I’ve gathered, they are more than enough to pass the exam. Without knowing more about you, it is hard to dispense advice. However, I would advise you to take Level 1 of the CFA. The CAIA Level 1 exam is pretty shallow in my opinion, albeit interesting material. Level 1 of the CFA really digs deep into subject matters important for an analyst to utilize. Likewise, I’m finding the material in the CAIA simpler after going through Leve1 of the CFA. Sorry to hear you are out of work.

I understand the objective of the two programs are quite different. And I realized the CFA, at least for level 1, covers basically the same material as any foundation finance and accounting courses offered in any graduate business school, which I have taken some 12 years ago. It would be great to refresh my memory, but do I need to spend that much time and money to repeat the same materials … The concern I have with CAIA is its future, especially in light of the current financial crisis. No one can said for certain what will ultimately transpired, but it is suffice to said the hedge fund industry and the structured products world will more than likely go through some pretty significant changes going forward.

I’m no expert in either regard, but from what I understand, the CAIA is a compliment to the CFA and not the other way around.

Judging from the cirriculums for both CFA and CAIA, CFA will give you a general foundation in Finance at the graduate business school level while CAIA “assumes” you have that basic foundation and allows you to further specialize in the alternative investment area. As to which designation is better for you depends very much on your own personal education and career background.

Thanks peteus325, that was my understanding. I like the idea of the CFA being a base and building in some specialized areas of focus.

My own personal sense is if you have already done graduate business school and specialize in finance, then CFA probably won’t give you too much additional new knowledge, except of course you can add “CFA” after your name. CAIA on the other hand is really a specialized focus on certain subject matter in finance - alternative investment. And it requires candidate to complete the program within the 3-year time period to ensure your knowledge is current and up-to-date.

What are your thoughts on the PRM/FRM component. If assuming the CFA is a replacement for grad school finance, and the CIAI is a more in-depth look at alternative investment, the risk management component has some value in this discussion.

I have no knowledge of the details regarding the PRM/FRM program except for the fact that is is related to risk management.