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CAIA Exam: What Is Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst?

What is CAIA designation?

Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) is a professional designation for investment professionals offered by the CAIA Association. Aspiring alternative investment professionals need to complete and pass 2 levels of examination.

The CAIA Association – a non-profit organization founded by the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) and the Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets (CISDM) in 2002 – is the global leader and authority in alternative investment education.

The CAIA Association conducted its first exam in February 2003. Since then, thousands of individuals worldwide have registered for the program, with more than 13,000+ current CAIA members worldwide.

CAIA topics

CAIA Level 1

The CAIA Level 1 exam mainly focuses on the introduction to alternative investments by covering the various asset classes. The topics areas and exam weights are as below:

CAIA Level 2

The Level 2 exam builds on the foundation of Level 1 and adds on recent academic and industry research in alternative investments, asset allocation, and risk management.

CAIA Level 2 is unique in the sense that the exam is split into 2 sections of 2 hour each, consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions (Section 1) and 3 sets of constructed-response questions (Section 2). Despite the equal time allocation per section, the multiple-choice section forms majority (70%) of the Level 2 exam weight, and the essay-type questions only 30%.

CAIA fees (USD)

It was recently updated for 2023 exams with lower fees for early registration, higher standard registration and retake fees (the latter applying only Sep 2023 onwards).

The exam fees are the same for each Level, and only vary depending on:

  • ​the date of registration and

  • whether you’re a new or returning candidate.

There is a one-off enrollment fee of $400 that applies to first time CAIA candidates:

  • For new Level 1 or Level 2 (via Stackable credential program) CAIA candidates, the total fees would be $1,395-$1,795 which includes this one-off enrollment fee.

Exam retake fees for both levels are slightly cheaper, at $795 per retake per level

CAIA exam dates & registration deadlines

Both levels of CAIA exams are conducted twice a year in March and September. This provides candidates the opportunity to complete the CAIA program within 1 year, if they passed consecutively. That said, CAIA Level 1 and Level 2 exams cannot be taken within the same exam window.

Candidates have the option of booking their exam date in a 10 business day window during the exam periods. All exams are administered internationally in computerized format exclusively at proctored Pearson VUE test centers.

What are the CAIA charter requirements?

In order to obtain the CAIA designation, candidates must have the following prerequisites:

  • Passed both Level 1 and Level 2 exams (unless you’re part of the CAIA stackable credential pilot program whereby CAIA Level 1 is waived for CFA charterholders); and

  • Work experience requirements:

    • Holds a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and have more than 1 year of full-time professional experience within the regulatory, banking, financial or related fields; OR

    • Alternatively, a candidate must have at least 4 years of full-time professional experience within the regulatory, banking, financial or related fields, OR

    • Be a CFA charterholder in good standing.

  • Paid for CAIA Association Membership (1 or 2 years); and

  • Abide by the Member Agreement.

​Unlike the FRM certification, CAIA candidates have unlimited time to pass the Level 2 exam after passing Level 1 to qualify for the CAIA Charter.

Benefits of CAIA designation

The CAIA charter is a globally recognized designation, known as the benchmark for best practice in the alternative investment profession. Earning the CAIA designation sets you apart as a financial professional with the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to provide sound advice on alternative investment strategies.

Once you earn the CAIA designation, you can expect to:

  • Differentiate yourself and further boost your alternative investments credentials in the financial industry

  • Be recognised and respected among employers, peers, and clients as a knowledgeable expert in alternative investing.

  • Increase your career opportunities and enhance your earning potential.

  • Broaden your client base and professional networking connections through membership and global chapters.

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