The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is by no means an introduction to the world of investment. CFA Institute (formerly AIMR) describes the CFA program as being supplementary to any finance-related education and investment experience already completed by an investment professional. This means that those who have mastered and gone beyond the basics in terms of financial education will have a higher chance of completion, as the program is formulated to be an advanced-level series of exams. The degree of difficulty of the CFA exams is demonstrated by the low pass rate of 40% for the level I exam in June 2006.
However, even if you do not have any experience in the world of finance, and have not obtained a degree in finance, you do still have a chance of completing the course. Your path will be more challenging, as you not only have to master the CFA curriculum, but the basics of the curriculum. According to CFA Institute, CFA candidates average 250 hours of preparation time prior to each exam. For people without a degree or experience in a finance-related field, preparation time can be expected to be higher.
One aspect of the CFA program that works in favor of individuals without any financial experience or knowledge is that it also intends to broaden the knowledge base of investment professionals, who tend to focus on particular areas of finance. As such, they do have preliminary readings where a candidate can review fundamentals prior to delving into the actual CFA program material.
A multitude of study resources is available for the CFA, from seminars to textbooks, study guides to quizzer software. In some regions, there are also pre-CFA level I classes which individuals can take to brush up on financial knowledge prior to enrolling in the program. If certain concepts in these refresher areas are too difficult to master in the time given, you can always take classes which focus on those topics through a university or college.