Why isn't CE mandatory after you become a CFA charterholder?

The CFA states on its website that “the CFA Program curriculum covers concepts and skills you will use at all stages of your career, connecting academic theory with current practice…”, yet there is no requirement for CFA charterholders to keep up with current practice. The CFA Program is updated annually to reflect changes in the current marketplace, but only CFA candidates are actively participating in the CFA Program. CFAI only recommends and does not mandate that charterholders keep up-to-date on new developments. As a CPA, I think the most crucial component of what keeps the CPA designation relevant and valuable is the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) necessary to renew your license, about a week per year of training on new developments in the audit, tax, and regulatory environments. I brought up this disconnect on another thread and I am wondering why current charterholders wouldn’t push to have a continuing education (CE) requirement that would serve many goals: keep the individual charterholder up-to-date on current developments in finance (it’s easier to do when it’s required rather than voluntary), differentiate charterholders that keep up-to-date on developments rather than those that stop after obtaining the charter (as those charterholders that don’t complete CE would go into a deactive status), and add value to the CFA charter overall (as it would be a given that a CFA charterholder is up-to-date on current practice; all you can assume of a CFA charterholder at the moment is that they passed the exam and had the requisite work experience at some point in the past). To be frank, I don’t know if the fact that you passed the CFA Program 20 years ago would carry much water if you hadn’t kept up with the marketplace after achieving the charter.

I would love to hear from current charterholders if this has been discussed by CFAI in the past, and their arguments for and against such an initiative. From my understanding, the CFAI had supported (and maybe even implemented) required CE for charterholders in the past, but that is no longer the case. Why did this happen?

Another case of CFAI behind the times-- all other professional certs require CE-- CPA, CFP, EA, Prof. Eng., etc.

I would be favor of something, especially given the free CE that is available right now online.

if you had to pay/ go somewhere in person I would not be in favor.

I think people don’t want to push for it because they don’t want to be forced to do it if they don’t feel they need CE

It’s not mandatory because members haven’t decided to make it mandatory. It appears occasionally for a vote of members, and, so far, it hasn’t passed.

With all due respect Magician, you’re answering the “how” question rather than the “why” question.

In fact; I’m answering both: the “why” is that sufficiently many members don’t want it.

Fair enough, and forgive me for not knowing how CFA institute proceedings go, but was there any discussion about the proposal before the vote was held? I’m only pressing to find out what were the underlying reasons members ultimately decided not to have such a requirement.

IMO, right now, a charterholder just cuts them a check every single year and adheres to the code and standards, and keeps the designation. You have a designation tied to a lot of successful people. Introduce a CE program, and they might be like “ain’t nobody got time for that!” and just stop using it.

Unemployed people and IT people on the other hand, will do as much CE as you ask them to.

Time is money.

I’m unaware of any discussion, sorry.

I think it should be

It really kind of already is required… via the Code & Standards.

For example, in the Code of Ethics:

“Maintain and improve their professional competence and strive to maintain and improve the competence of other investment professionals.”

and to some extent: Standard 1A: Knowledge of the Law…

Just because there’s not an explicit required number of hours to meet each year, does not necessarily mean that you aren’t required to have relevant continuing education

Am I the only one who is asked every year if I’ve completed at least 20 hours of CE when I renew?


From my experience with people with a CPA & CFP the CE is kind of a joke though. I think CE credits & requirements in general are a patch to make people feel like a person is really keeping up with trends when in reality they may not be.

People can easily obtain the needed CE credits and while not staying current with what is really going on in the industry. I believe the responsibility for maintaining should be held with the individual and that is included in the Code of Ethics.

You can do CE by using the resources on the website if you really want to. I’ll use the website when I actually need to brush up on something.

Have you seen what counts for CE for CFPs, ChFC, etc? Its stuff that would be of zero benefit to CFAs. It’s always incredibly simple stuff like “How interest rates impact bonds” or “Understanding target date funds.”

If the CFA Institute forced me to sit through that type of presentation after studying relatively complex finance for 3 years, I’d think the charter had been weakened somehow.

Why would you want CE to be required to maintain your CFA? Having to take CPE to keep my CPA is a gigantic waste of both time and money. It has provided me zero value, and I despise the fact that I have to do it every year. Which reminds me, I’m late on reporting my CPE to the state board this year. Oh well.

Unless you have to sit through your firm’s trainings (thank god I’m not in Big 4 anymore), this is exactly what it is.

For example, I pay to download some BS 30-page online pdf summary of a topic with a quiz at the end to confirm that I read the text. Thankfully, my computer has Ctrl+F, so I read none of it and go straight to the quiz. This will give me like 4 CPE credit hours in roughly 20 minutes.

Yea this is what I have heard. Really is just a way for everyone to pat themselves on the back and say they are keeping up and everyone with the designation is current. I wouldnt even consider it to be the bare minimum a person should do to remain current as you can get CE credits for some really odd stuff.

As unfortunate as it is for everyone to realize, staying current is something that the individual has to take seriously and there is no way to get around that. CE is just a way for the organization to pretend its serious about it.

If you were smart, you’d get four other people to do three different quizzes. Then you could do 20 CPE credit hours in only 20 minutes! (Well, plus another 20 minutes to fill out all the answer sheets.)

But I have to do 40 hours per year for my CPA, 15 hours a year for insurance, another 20 (I think) for my Series 7, and if I ever complete the CFP (which I doubt I will), another 30 for that.

I agree that the CPE for the CPA can be a gigantic waste of time; it’s really up to the individual to get what he/she wants to get out of it. That being said, whenever there is a change in tax code or auditing standards, the CPE makes you aware of those changes that you otherwise might miss. Further, just the perception that CPAs are required to take CPE to maintain the license should (and I would argue does) increase the value of the license in general.

It obviously has value to keep up with current market developments as a CFA charterholder, as evidenced by the stated goal of the CFA Program, the recommendation for individual CE by the CFAI, and how it is part of the Code of Standards. My argument is that it would be prudent for the CFAI to mandate it and keep track of it by means other than individual vouching. Since charterholders should be doing this CE anyways, there shouldn’t be any additional time commitment. And as for additional costs, if they charged for CE then they could reduce the membership dues for relief.