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2021 Curriculum CFA Program Level III Ethical and Professional Standards


The Standards of Practice Handbook (Handbook) provides guidance to the people who grapple with real ethical dilemmas in the investment profession on a daily basis; the Handbook addresses the professional intersection where theory meets practice and where the concept of ethical behavior crosses from the abstract to the concrete. The Handbook is intended for a diverse and global audience: CFA Institute members navigating ambiguous ethical situations; supervisors and direct/indirect reports determining the nature of their responsibilities to each other, to existing and potential clients, and to the broader financial markets; and candidates preparing for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) examinations.

Recent events in the global financial markets have tested the ethical mettle of financial market participants, including CFA Institute members. The standards taught in the CFA Program and by which CFA Institute members and candidates must abide represent timeless ethical principles and professional conduct for all market conditions. Through adherence to these standards, which continue to serve as the model for ethical behavior in the investment professional globally, each market participant does his or her part to improve the integrity and efficient operations of the financial markets.

The Handbook provides guidance in understanding the interconnectedness of the aspirational and practical principles and provisions of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards). The Code contains high-level aspirational ethical principles that drive members and candidates to create a positive and reputable investment profession. The Standards contain practical ethical principles of conduct that members and candidates must follow to achieve the broader industry expectations. However, applying the principles individually may not capture the complexity of ethical requirements related to the investment industry. The Code and Standards should be viewed and interpreted as an interwoven tapestry of ethical requirements. Through members’ and candidates’ adherence to these principles as a whole, the integrity of and trust in the capital markets are improved.

Learning Outcomes

The member should be able to:

  1. describe the structure of the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program and the process for the enforcement of the Code and Standards;

  2. state the six components of the Code of Ethics and the seven Standards of Professional Conduct;

  3. explain the ethical responsibilities required by the Code and Standards, including the sub-sections of each Standard.

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