Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst

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Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
TypeProfessional Designation
Area served
12,000 (2021)

Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) (pronounced "KAI-ah") is a professional designation offered by the CAIA Association to investment professionals who complete a course of study and pass two examinations. The "alternative investments" industry is characterized as dealing with asset classes and investments other than standard equity or fixed income products. Alternative investments can include hedge funds, private equity, real assets, commodities, and structured products. The CAIA curriculum is designed to provide finance professionals with a broad base of knowledge in alternative investments.

The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association was founded in 2002 by the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) and the Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets (CISDM). The CAIA Association is an independent, not-for-profit, global organization committed to education and professionalism in the field of alternative investments. CAIA designees are required to maintain membership in the CAIA Association and adhere to professional and ethical standards. As of 2021, there are over 12,000 CAIA members.[1]

The Journal of Alternative Investments is the official publication of the CAIA Association. The JAI is one of nine journals published by Institutional Investor Journals.


The CAIA program is divided into two levels. The Level I curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of alternative investment markets, while Level II concentrates on advanced topics in alternative investments. Both levels take a global perspective and incorporate issues of ethics and professional conduct. Candidates can take exams from anywhere in the World.

Level I[edit]

The CAIA Level I exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. The Level I curriculum covers six topics, listed below. CAIA Level I candidates are assumed to have an elementary undergraduate understanding of the basic concepts of traditional finance and quantitative analysis.

The Level I curriculum covers:

  • Professional Standards and Ethics
    • Standard 1: Professionalism
    • Standard 2: Integrity of Capital Markets
    • Standard 3: Duties to Clients
    • Standard 4: Duties to Employers
    • Standard 5: Investment Analysis, Recommendations, and Actions
    • Standard 6: Conflicts of Interest
    • Standard 7: Responsibilities as a CFA (CAIA) Institute Member or CFA (CAIA) Candidate
  • Introduction to Alternative Investments
    • What is an Alternative Investment?
    • The Environment of Alternative Investments
    • Quantitative Foundations
    • Statistical Foundations
    • Measures of Risk and Performance
    • Foundations of Financial Economics
    • Benchmarking and Performance Attribution
    • Alpha, Beta, and Hypothesis Testing
    • Regression, Multivariate, and Nonlinear Methods
  • Real Assets
    • Natural Resources and Land
    • Commodity Forward Pricing
    • Commodities: Application and Evidence
    • Operationally Intensive Real Assets
    • Liquid and Fixed-Income Real Estate
    • Real Estate Equity investments
  • Hedge Funds
    • Structure of the Hedge Fund Industry
    • Macro and Managed Futures Funds
    • Event-Driven Hedge Funds
    • Relative Value Hedge Funds
    • Equity Hedge Funds
    • Funds of Hedge Funds
  • Private Equity
    • Introduction to Private Equity
    • Equity Types of Private Equity
    • Debt Types of Private Equity
  • Structured Products
    • Introduction to Structuring
    • Credit Risk and Credit Derivatives
    • CDO Structuring of Credit Risk
    • Equity-Linked Structured Products

The CAIA Association recommends that candidates devote 200 or more hours of study to prepare for the Level I exam.

Level II[edit]

The CAIA Level II exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, plus three sets of constructed-response (essay) questions. The Level II curriculum is broadly divided into two sections: alternative investments and Core and Integrated Topics. Candidates must apply the skills and knowledge from Level I to gain a deeper understanding of issues involved in each of the areas of alternative investments. The Core and Integrated Topics text is updated annually to reflect the latest industry and research developments.

The Level II curriculum covers:

  • Topic 1 - Emerging Topics
  • Topic 2 - Ethics, Regulation and ESG
  • Topic 3 - Models
  • Topic 4 - Institutional Asset Owners and Investment Policies
  • Topic 5 - Risk and Risk Management
  • Topic 6 - Methods for Alternative Investing
  • Topic 7 - Accessing Alternative Investments
  • Topic 8 - Due Diligence and Selecting Strategies
  • Topic 9 - Volatility and Complex Strategies

The CAIA Association recommends that candidates devote 200 or more hours of study to prepare for the Level II exam.

Historical pass rates[edit]

Grading begins once the examination window is closed, and Level I results are posted within three weeks after the final examination day. Level II exam results are available within six weeks after the last exam day, due to the need to grade essay questions.

The percentage of candidates that pass the CAIA exams changes from exam to exam. As of Fall 2020, less than 34% of candidates are able to pass both CAIA Level I and Level II exams on consecutive first attempts.

CAIA Exam Pass Rate[2]
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. March Sept. Feb.
Level I 51% 54% 52% 54% 52% 54% 54% 64% 60% 63% 61% 59% 66% 66% 67% 67% 68% 68% 64% 68% 74% 71% 71% 72% 68% 73% 72% 72% 72% 76% 79% 75%
Level II 58% 59% 65% 81% 64% 69% 62% 58% 57% 59% 66% 70% 67% 68% 66% 63% 62% 65% 62% 58% 59% 58% 56% 56% 58% 62% 70% 69% 65% 67% 63% 65%

Candidates may augment their study of the CAIA curriculum materials with third-party preparation programs. Those programs are offered by: UpperMark, Kaplan Schweser, Top Finance, Kaplan Finance with Schweser—Hong Kong, Kaplan Finance, with Schweser—London, Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute (HKSI), IEB (Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles), and NYSSA.


Once the program and eligibility requirements have been met, CAIA Members are able to join Chapters. There are thirty CAIA Chapters around the world, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Singapore, London, and Los Angeles.[3] Chapter activities include educational panels with expert speakers and deliver on CAIA's mission to educate Candidates and Members about relevant issues in alternatives.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CAIA Exam: What's A Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst? - 300Hours". Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  2. ^ Macon, Sophie. "CAIA Pass Rates: How Difficult Are CAIA Exams? - 300Hours". Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  3. ^ "Chapters | CAIA Association". Retrieved 2019-08-28.

External links[edit]