LIFA: An Alternative Financial Analyst Certification
LIFA, Licensed International Financial Analyst is a relatively new certification awarded by the International Research Association Massachusetts, USA. IRA hopes LIFA to be the one global professional certification for investment professionals. The Licensed International Financial Analyst designation is designed for securities analysts, portfolio managers, investment advisors, educators and other investment professionals. This certification helps measure the candidate’s competency across a wide array of investment related topics. The key strengths of this exam are low enrollment fees, easy to access online study material and low cost to candidates taking the certification. Professionals from the following areas can apply for this certification:
- Broker-Dealer, Investment Banking
- Financial Publishing
- Government/Regulatory Agency
- Investment Company/Mutual Fund
- Investment Management Counseling
- Plan Sponsor
- Real Estate
The exam has three levels. On clearing level III, an investment report must be submitted by the candidate. Candidates can apply for a waiver of Levels I and II. The reason being Level III passing requires an understanding and synthesis of concepts in levels I and level II thoroughly. Some of the areas covered in Level III are:
- Corporate Finance
- Derivative Instruments
- Financial Statement Analysis
- International Markets
- Portfolio Management
- Quantitative Analysis
The investment report must include an analysis of an individual company or industry, which provides information reasonably sufficient upon which to base an investment decision and includes a recommendation.
The registration and enrollment fees for LIFA are between $155 and $600. The exam can be taken anytime at Thompson-Prometric centers on about 260 days of the year. If the student fails a level, he can retake it with no wait at all. Typically similar other programs have fees ranging from $600 to $1395 and no waiver is available for the first two levels. If the student fails a level they need to wait between 6 months to a year before they can retake it.
An annual statement of professional conduct is also currently required to obtain the LIFA charter and maintain the LIFA designation in good standing. A source list of recommended reading for the program is available. The curriculum guide has master topics for which material is easily available online for free.
The LIFA exam has 200 multiple questions to be answered in a single 4-hour session. All exams are four hours in total. All stages of LIFA examinations consist of multiple choice questions and will cover all subjects. An additional fifteen minutes is allotted for a pre-exam tutorial, and an additional fifteen minutes is allotted for a post-exam survey. Prometric exam center proctors strictly enforce start and finish times. LIFA exam results are available to candidates within thirty days of the exam date. Results will be on a pass/fail basis, and LIFA candidates are notified by email when their results are ready. LIFA has certain strict rules that it expects candidates to adhere to at testing centers before, during and after the exam.
If you have been dithering on taking a Financial Analyst certification on account of the high cost of registering or study material, without compromising on quality, LIFA is probably the answer to your concerns.