9 Finance Certifications To Help You Grow Your Skills

Updated 7 February 2023

Pursuing professional certifications can help you increase your credibility and expertise in your field, which could impress potential employers. Working in a finance-related field, like accounting, financial planning or risk management, can require a high level of industry knowledge, and certifications are a path to achieving that. Understanding more about the certifications available in the finance field could help you craft a plan to earn these credentials. In this article, we outline nine different finance certifications available that may help you reach your goals.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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9 Finance Certifications To Pursue

Below are 9 examples of finance certifications you might pursue to expand your knowledge in the finance and accounting field:

1. Chartered Accountant

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in India (ICAI) issues the Chartered Accountant (CA) distinction, which is a popular credential for experienced accountants to pursue. To earn this certification, candidates take three exams: a Foundation exam, an Intermediate Exam and the CA Final. After passing the exams, candidates then spend three years in an internship programme. A certified CA supervises them during this time to help them refine their professional skills.

It typically takes about five years to earn this prestigious certification. Individuals who want to work in accounting typically pursue the CA distinction, but it can also be valuable for those in fields like commerce and banking. As an accountant, it can prepare you for a career in tax preparation, auditing, forensic treasury or consulting.

Related: What Does A Chartered Accountant Do? Duties And Career Path

2. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Qualification

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a United Kingdom organisation that issues the ACCA Qualification to individuals in the finance industry. This globally recognised credential has a variety of options that you can select, depending on your career goals and study preferences. Courses can range from six months to two years, and you can study full time, part time, online or during weekends and evenings.

ACCA prepares people in the finance field for careers in auditing, mergers and acquisitions and risk management. The organisation also partners with more than 80 accounting employers worldwide to help graduates improve their career prospects. You can also apply your ACCA progress to a degree, such as a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting through the organisation's programmes with UK-based institutions.

Related: What Does An Auditor Do? Duties And Responsibilities

3. Certified Financial Planner

If you want to further your skills as a financial planner, you could pursue a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification from the Financial Standards Planning Board (FSPB). This global certification is available for qualified candidates who have between one and three years of experience in the finance industry. Experience requirements are either one year of supervised financial planning study under an FSPB-certified professional or three years of unsupervised work in one of the following environments:

  • Financial planning advisory

  • FSPB-authorised study of CFP training concepts

  • Personal finance journalism

  • Financial tech

  • Insurance

  • Banking, mutual fund or trust

  • Accounting, auditing or corporate finance

  • Volunteer work in finance for individuals in need

To earn the CFP credential, candidates take a detailed exam that tests their knowledge of key financial planning concepts. After passing the exam, they can submit documents proving they meet the minimum requirements for certification. The CFP programme focuses on six areas of financial planning:

  • Estate planning and wealth transfer

  • Tax optimisation

  • Personal financial management

  • Investment planning and asset management

  • Risk management and insurance planning

  • Retirement planning

Related: A Guide On Financial Planning And Analysis (With Functions)

4. Chartered Financial Analyst

Those interested in helping clients manage investments might seek the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential from the CFA Institute. To become a certified charter holder, candidates take a rigorous exam that covers the programme's curriculum. The programme curriculum covers topics like:

  • Ethics

  • Economics

  • Financial statement analysis

  • Fixed income

  • Equity investments

  • Alternative investments

  • Corporate issuers

  • Portfolio management and wealth planning

  • Derivatives

Candidates also submit three reference letters from professional connections, like colleagues or supervisors, and prove they have suitable field experience. The CFA Institute expects candidates to have either a bachelor's degree or within 23 months of earning one or 4,000 hours of paid work experience. The organisation also requires candidates to have a valid international travel passport.

Related: How To Become A Finance Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide

5. Financial Risk Manager

Financial Risk Manager (FRM) is a professional title the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) offers to those who complete this programme. It is a globally recognised credential for risk management in financial organisations, such as banks, insurance companies, accounting institutions, consulting firms, corporations, credit agencies and regulatory agencies. Prerequisites and requirements include at least two years of professional experience in a field directly related to financial risk management, passing the two-part certifying exam and presenting a management portfolio. Exam topics include:

  • Financial theories

  • Risk management concepts

  • Application of risk management tools

The first part of the exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions for examinees to answer within four hours. The second part has 80 multiple-choice questions for examinees to answer within four hours.

Related: What Does A Risk Manager Do? (How To Become One And Skills)

6. Certified Management Accountant

Those with a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification often work in corporate rather than private accounting. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) awards this global certification to those who have demonstrated expertise in critical accounting and financial management.

Prerequisites and requirements include:

  • Bachelor's degree or professional accounting certification

  • Two years of work experience

  • IMA membership

  • Passing both parts of the CMA certification within three years of one another

The two-part exam covers 12 competencies. The most heavily weighted of these are decision analysis, performance management, corporate finance, financial statement analysis and planning, and budgeting and forecasting. To maintain your CMA, you are required to have 30 hours of CE credits each year and remain an active IMA member.

Related: What Are Accountant Qualifications? (Plus Key Certifications To Consider)

7. Company Secretary

The Institute of Company Secretaries in India (ICSI) offers the Company Secretary distinction to individuals interested in managing the administrative and legal duties associated with organisations' budgets, expenses and tax obligations. These individuals help their employers manage their finances and comply with local regulations.

The Company Secretary programme is open to candidates who have completed 10+2 courses or earned an equivalent credential. The programme consists of three stages: Foundation, Executive and Professional. Each stage includes its own exam, which you can take in either June or Dec. of each year. Topics covered in the Foundation programme curriculum include:

  • Business management, ethics and entrepreneurship

  • Business environment and law

  • Business economics

  • Fundamentals of accounting and auditing

The second level of the programme, the Executive level, teaches more advanced concepts such as:

  • Tax laws

  • Company law

  • Setting up business entities and closure

  • Jurisprudence, interpretation and general laws

  • Securities law and capital markets

  • Financial and strategic management

  • Economic, business and commercial laws

  • Corporate and management accounting

The Professional level includes the following required courses:

  • Drafting, appearances and pleadings

  • Advanced tax laws

  • Governance, risk management, compliance and ethics

  • Secretarial audit

  • Corporate restructuring

  • Resolution of corporate disputes

  • Corporate funding and listings in stock exchanges

  • Multidisciplinary case studies

You can choose between one of the following electives to complete the Professional level:

  • Banking law and practice

  • Insurance law and practice

  • Labour laws and practice

  • Direct tax law and practice

  • intellectual property rights laws and practice

  • Insolvency law and practice

  • Forensic audit

  • Valuations and business modelling

Related: What Is A Compliance Audit? (With Definition And Benefits)

8. Certified International Investment Analyst

The Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA) designation demonstrates your knowledge of economics, corporate finance, portfolio management, equity valuation and analysis, fixed income valuation and analysis, derivative valuation and analysis and more. The Association of Certified International Investment Analysts (ACIIA) offers this globally recognised certification. Prerequisites and requirements include:

  • Three years of professional experience in portfolio management, investment or financial analysis

  • Membership in a participating society

  • Passing all CIIA exams

There are three foundation-level exams that cover core topics, including corporate finance, economics and portfolio management. These exams feature multiple-choice, discursive, short-essay and calculation questions. Two final-level exams cover more advanced corporate finance and portfolio management. These exams include case study questions and an in-depth essay. There are also exams covering local legal and regulatory topics, respectively, as the distinction is available in 34 countries.

Related: What Is Portfolio Management? (With Benefits And Types)

9. Certified Treasury Professional

The Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) distinction is a globally recognised credential for those equipped to manage treasuries in global financial markets. The programme focuses on topics like financial management, global markets, reporting and risk management. To earn the CTP certification, candidates take and pass a 170-question multiple-choice exam. Eligibility requirements include either:

  • Two years of professional experience in a treasury management role

  • Four years of teaching experience in finance

  • One year of professional experience in a measurement management role or a graduate-level degree in a relevant field

  • Two years of teaching experience in finance and a graduate-level degree in a relevant field

  • One year of professional experience in a treasury management role and two years of teaching experience in finance

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