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The Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct are the ethical cornerstone of CFA Institute. They are essential to CFAI’s mission to lead the global investment profession and pivotal to maintain public’s trust in the financial markets/institutions.

Significance from Examination point of view:

Though many candidates find this topic a bit monotonous, this is single-handedly one of the most important topics for the exam. The weighting for this topic is about 15% for the level-I exam, however considering the scenario where candidate’s average score in other topics is close to the minimum passing score, the score on Ethics-related questions proves to be the key to determining whether the candidate passes or fails!

Historical Background:

About 40-45 years back, the CFA exam was merely a test of one’s knowledge of ethical standards, professional conduct and testing one’s grasp of right and wrong in various business situations. In its present form, the exam has changed dramatically to test candidates’ s competence in accounting, economics, quantitative methods, asset valuation and portfolio management.

Nonetheless, the Code and Standards are the ethical benchmarks for investment professionals around the globe, regardless of job title, cultural differences, or local laws.

What is the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct?

Code of Ethics:

  • Place the integrity of the profession and the interests of clients above your own interests
  • Act with integrity, competence, and respect
  • Improve and maintain your professional competence

Standards of Professional Conduct:

  • Professionalism
  • The integrity of the capital markets
  • Duties to clients
  • Duties to employers
  • Investment analysis and recommendations
  • Conflicts of interest

Regular Updation/Review of Code and Standards:

CFAI conducts a periodic review of the Code and Standards as well as the accompanying Standards of Practice Handbook.

Here’s a sample question to give you a feel of questions from the topic:

Which of the following is NOT part of the CFA’s Code of Ethics?

A.Integrity and dignity


C.Contractual provisions

D.Independent judgment

Do go through this article for some of the basic concepts of CFA Ethics.