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  • Th’ng Beng Hooi, CFA

The new topics in the CFA® Program exam may make it harder, but they’ll make sure you don't end

This piece was derived from the author’s keynote speech at the CFA® Society Malaysia’s “CFA Career Day”, held on 4 August 2018 in KL.

Missed it? No problem. We summarise the main points from the session:

Will technology eat our lunch? What's going to happen when robots replace finance experts?

By now, most people know the news that topics like artificial intelligence, fintech and cryptocurrencies are going to be tested in CFA® Program exam from next year onward.

Of course, this means candidates will have more material to get familiar with, and understanding the complex concepts behind new technologies isn’t going to be easy.

But in the end, this education will help financial analysts be up to date on new technologies. Not knowing about these technologies means you can come across as uninformed: in fact, CFA Institute even came out to say that these technologies aren’t fads, but here to stay.

In fact, it’s important to know how CFA Institute came to the decision to update the syllabus: based on feedback from thousands of CFA® charterholders worldwide, as well as employers and other finance professionals.

Last year, CFA Institute asked members what they thought were the next biggest trends in investment management. This is done pretty regularly to find out the key skills people need in to survive in the industry.

Four big points raised were:

  1. Big Data becoming common in financial analysis

  2. Alternative investments, like crypto, getting popular

  3. Investment managers needing Fintech skills

  4. More and more robots are used to give financial advice

These points were then distilled into the new curriculum chapters.

People treat the CFA® designation with respect because CFA Institute makes an effort to keep its exam (and practitioners – via courses, seminars and conferences) up to date on upcoming trends in investment management.

This means that though fintech isn’t exactly widely accepted right now, CFA® charterholders are prepared for when it we start using it in our everyday lives.

Many articles online predict that laborious, repetitive jobs involving calculations will soon be done better by computers than humans. This means that some portion of the finance sector should be prepared that robots may soon take over their jobs.

But with the syllabus constantly updated, at last those taking the CFA® Program exam know they’re building the new analytical and decision-making skills they need for the tech era of investing.

To close, here’s a summary of what’s coming to the curriculum:

  1. Big data analytics

  2. Artificial intelligence/Machine learning

  3. Algorithmic trading

  4. Robo-advisers

  5. Crowdfunding & peer-to-peer lending

  6. Blockchain

  7. Payment systems: Mobile payments/ HFT

About the Author

Th’ng Beng Hooi, CFA, lectures on Ethics for AB Maximus & Co. He was previously VP for Dealing and Resource Development at a listed regional stock-broking firm and is the lead co-author of various financial regulatory examination study guides in Singapore and Malaysia.

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