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CFA Institute Celebrates 60 Years of the CFA® Program

Six decades and more than 190,000 CFA charterholders since the first CFA exam in 1963

New York City, United States 15 Jun 2023

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, today marks the 60th anniversary of the CFA Program, the leading credential for the investment profession globally.


From an idea first conceived by the famed investor Benjamin Graham, the first CFA examination occurred on 15 June 1963, when 284 professional investors took the exam at 25 locations across the United States and — for one candidate who was travelling to England at the time — on the high seas onboard the RMS Queen Mary.


Already established and highly regarded in their fields, the first test takers included former presidents of the National Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (NFFAS) – the forerunner to CFA Institute – and individuals well-known for their authorship of articles and books on investing. Among them were Lucien O. Hooper, a recognized financial columnist, and Jane Ashby, one of only six women to participate.


Three months later, Jane Ashby and Lucien Hooper were two of the first 268 successful candidates to be awarded the CFA Charter. Fellow candidate and a former President of the NFFAS, George M. Hansen, received CFA Charter No 1.


Margaret Franklin, CFA, President & CEO, CFA Institute comments:


“Those first CFA exam candidates in the class of 1963 were already acknowledged investment leaders. They gave their time and put their reputations on the line to participate in an exam first proposed by Benjamin Graham and diligently crafted for the benefit of future generations of investment analysts. By taking part, they brought to life the vision for the CFA Program and set the tone for this now-universally recognized advanced qualification.”


Chris Wiese, CFA, Managing Director for Education, CFA Institute comments:


“The original CFA program focused on equity security analysis and emphasized ethical and professional standards. An expanded, global, more complex industry means that today’s candidates must be proficient in a significantly wider range of asset classes and applied knowledge. Through annual revisions to the curriculum, the CFA Program incorporates new investing concepts as they become mainstream, be that new securities, new strategies, new theories, or new tools. And with our latest enhancements, the CFA Program is evolving once again to meet the needs of a new generation of candiates. As a universal symbol of attainment, the CFA designation denotes mastery of the investment analysis and decision-making skills needed in the investment profession.”


An Evolving Curriculum

Over six decades the CFA Program curriculum has introduced a range of market innovations, including:

  • 1960s -- Capital asset pricing model and Sharpe ratio
  • 1970s -- Black-Scholes and mean-variance optimization
  • 1980s -- Performance attribution and mortgage-backed securities
  • 1990s -- Exchange-traded funds and value at risk
  • 2000s -- Collateralized debt securities and IFRS
  • 2010s -- AI/machine learning and green bonds
  • 2020s -- Geopolitics and digital assets

Recently, CFA Institute announced the most significant updates to the CFA Program since its 1963 launch. These include the introduction of three specialist pathways at Level III of the CFA Program, providing candidates with portfolio management, private wealth, or private markets study options – all in pursuit of the same global credential – the CFA Charter. Digital practical skills modules have also been introduced to help candidates become desk-ready in subject areas including financial modelling and Python. 


For more about the CFA Program, visit: CFA Program Evolution.


For more about CFA Institute and its global community of investment professionals, visit CFA Institute Members or get in touch at: [email protected].




Notes to Editors

  • Margaret Franklin, CFA, President & CEO, CFA Institute Video Message

  • Benjamin Graham association and class of 1963 names and stories from The Gold StandardA Fifty-Year History of the CFA Charter, by Nancy Regan, published in 2012.


  • The CFA Program prepares individuals for career paths in every sector of the global finance industry. It teaches and tests across 10 topics through an agreed Candidate Body of Knowledge which represents the core knowledge, skills and competencies generally accepted and applied by investment professionals globally. These are: Ethical and professional standards, qualitative methods, economics, financial statement analysis, corporate issuers, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, portfolio management and wealth planning.


  • CFA Program candidates can access extensive curriculum materials through the Learning Ecosystem, an adaptive online learning tool that provides all necessary readings, study planning tools, flash cards, practice questions, and mock examinations. The Learning Ecosystem also offers candidates ways to consolidate learning through a variety of interactive formats in a digital Games Center.

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 190,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 160 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and 160 local societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter at @CFAInstitute.


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