Stages leading to Chartered status

Ask many an aspiring financial juggernaut, and they’ll probably tell you that they aim to achieve Chartered status as part of their plan to become skilled finance professionals. But have you ever thought about the actual stages leading up to Chartered status?

Chartered accountancy, finance and banking professionals are registered with respective professional bodies in their fields. Professional body membership is a big seal of approval on the professional standards in practice and conduct in a field. And in an industry where regulation is a hugely important and prominent issue these days, membership with one of these bodies is increasingly important as a way of demonstrating your integrity and abilities to potential employers and clients.

There is often more than one professional body for each profession and more than one route for obtaining Charted status with them depending on your level of experience, so you may have a choice when it comes to beginning your path.

How do I get Chartered status in the finance industry?

The hallowed title of Chartered status must be obtained by proving yourself in a number of different ways. You’ll definitely be required to obtain a specified amount of knowledge at an in-depth level on various different aspects in your profession, no matter which professional body you choose. There will also be plenty of skills to master. And what’s more, you must prove your worth on the exam paper—actually, on quite a few exam papers. Just as an example, the ACA accountancy qualification that leads to Chartered Status involves a whopping 15 exams!

But it’s not just about passing the exams. Chartered professionals in the finance industry must have clocked up a certain amount of time (and we’re talking a few years’ worth) of experience in practice at a particular level. Some professional bodies state that you will have to have achieved certain milestones in your career, for example having carried out a particular piece of work or played a certain role before you will be eligible for Chartered status.

Chartered accountant

If you want to get started training for Chartered status in accountancy, qualifying with any professional body in the field, you’ll first have to obtain a training contract with an accountancy or professional services firm. You can do this through applying for advertised school leaver programmes, sponsored degree programmes or graduate schemes if you already hold a degree. Employers offering these schemes will need to be accredited by one or more professional body. It’s their qualification you’ll study for.

School leavers on school leaver programmes or an apprenticeship will usually first complete study for an entry-level accountancy qualification—a certificate or diploma—which will provide a solid grounding of business and accountancy knowledge and skills.

There are various Chartered status professional qualifications you could follow in accountancy including ACA (with the ICAEW), ACCA, CA (with ICAS), AAT and ATT.

Each professional body will set out their study programmes in modules which you’ll have to complete alongside your full-time job.

In order to gain Chartered status in accountancy, you’ll have to pass all the exams set out by your training professional body, as well as complete the full-time period of your training contract with your employer. This is commonly around three years. You’ll also have to tick off demonstrations of key competencies and work experience requirements before you will be eligible to apply for full membership of your professional body and earn Chartered status.

Chartered banker

Graduates are able to work towards the Chartered Banker Diploma offered by the Chartered Banker Institute. This consists of study of a number of different modules: one compulsory module on professionalism, ethics and regulation, credit and lending modules and so optional modules covering different areas of banking.

Once the specified amount of modules are passed, you can achieve Chartered Banker (CB) status.

There is a fast-track option available to banking professionals who are already working in senior positions which will enable them to achieve Chartered Banker status alongside their full-time work.

CFA Chartered

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is Chartered Status for investment professionals, primarily in portfolio management and investment analysis.

There are three levels involved in the CFA Program. Before embarking on study for the CFA, which grants Chartered Status, many investment professionals in the early stages of her career study for the IMC which is an entry-level qualification offered by the CFA Society in the UK. These modules lay the foundation for CFA study.

In order to begin CFA study at Level I, you must have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent or have at least for years of relevant work experience (internships and summer or part-time work don’t count) if you don’t have a degree.

In order to become CFA Chartered you have to pass all of the exams at Level I, Level II and Level III. In addition, you need to have at least four years’ experience working in an investment role (utilising investment decision-making) and have your application for membership accepted.