DEFINITION of 'Body of Knowledge - BOK'

Body of knowledge (BOK) refers to the core teachings and skills required to work in a particular field or industry. The body of knowledge (BOK) is usually defined by professional associations or societies. Members of the profession outline what is needed to do their jobs and that forms the foundation for the curriculum of most professional programs or designations. People seeking to enter the profession must display their mastery of the body of knowledge in order to receive accreditation that enables them to practice these skills. Candidates usually demonstrate their mastery of the body of knowledge by passing rigorous examinations. These exams can be a single session or the accreditation can be done level by level, requiring a person to practice at a particular level for a set amount of time before challenging the next level. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Body of Knowledge - BOK'

Body of knowledge is a more formal way of referring to things we more commonly call core competencies and required skills today. Not unlike a job advertisement, the body of knowledge is a list of things you must know and things you must be able to do before you will be accepted as a professional by the organization doing the accreditation. Universities have a defined body of knowledge that a student must demonstrate their familiarity with before being granted a degree. Trades have a body of knowledge that an apprentice works through in order to become a full journeyman of the trade. The actual contents of the body of knowledge for a particular profession evolves over time. This is one of the reasons that associations are often in charge of accreditation, as it is very difficult for people outside of a particular industry to keep up with new techniques and developments. 

The Body of Knowledge for the CFA

In the investment world, one of the best-known examples of the body of knowledge is that of the Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA, program. The CFA program's Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) is determined by getting input from CFA Institute members and employers, on current best practices and projected future trends in the investment profession. The CBOK encompasses 10 knowledge domains:

  • Ethical and professional standards
  • Quantitative methods
  • Economics
  • Financial reporting and analysis
  • Corporate finance
  • Equity investments
  • Fixed income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative investments
  • Portfolio management and wealth planning

The CFA Institute regularly reviews the curriculum to keep it relevant to would-be analysts. For example, the 2017 Practice Analysis Survey put more emphasis on the role of big data in financial analysis. 

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