CFSA-Key-Graphic[1] Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

The Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of current auditing practices and understanding of internal audit issues, risks, and remedies in the financial services industry. The revised format allows candidates a choice of emphasis in one of three financial services disciplines: Banking, Insurance, and Securities.

CFSA candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements:

Education: CFSA candidates must hold a 3- or 4-year post-secondary degree (or higher).

The Global Board of Directors has approved an alternate path to eligibility for the CFSA for those candidates who do not possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Candidates may now become eligible for the CFSA, subject to approval, who possess:

  • Two years post-secondary education and five years verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent, OR
  • Seven years verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent.

For further details, please see Certification Candidate Handbook.

Character Reference: A CFSA candidate must exhibit high moral and professional character and must submit a Character_Reference_Form signed by a signed by a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA or the candidate’s supervisor.

Work Experience: A CFSA candidate must obtain two years of auditing experience in a financial services environment. A completed Experience_Verification_Form is required. Candidates may apply to the program and sit for the exam prior to satisfying the professional experience requirement, but will not be certified until all program requirements have been met.

Proof of Identification: Candidates must provide proof of identification in the form of a copy of the candidate’s official passport or national identity card. These must indicate current status; expired documents will not be accepted.

The certification program’s eligibility requires candidates to complete the program certification process within four years of application approval. If a candidate has not completed the certification process within four years, all fees and exam parts will be forfeited.

You need to apply for admission by loggin in to the CCMS-system. More info in the CCMS User Guide.

The CFSA exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of current auditing practices and understanding of internal audit issues, risks, and remedies in the financial services industry. The exam consists of 115 multiple-choice questions. The testing period is two hours and fifty-five minutes. Exam questions are all multiple-choice (objective) with four answer choices.

80% of the exam covers four domains: Financial Services Auditing, Auditing Financial Services Products, Auditing Financial Service Processes, and The Regulatory Environment. The remaining 20% relate to the candidates’ chosen discipline and will be at the proficiency level. CFSA candidates may choose any one of the three disciplines as part of their CFSA exam test. Candidates may not choose to be tested on more than one discipline. The CFSA designation does not distinguish one chosen discipline from another.

CFSA Exam Domains
The CFSA exam core content covers four domains. Press the link to get more detailed information:

Domain I: Financial Services Auditing (25-35%)
Domain II: Auditing Financial Services Products (25-35%)
Domain III: Auditing Financial Service Processes (25-35%)
Domain IV: The Regulatory Environment (10-20%)

CFSA Exam Individual Disciplines
Individual Financial Services Discipline Sections (25 questions). Press the link to get more detailed information:

Banking: Products, Processes, and The Regulatory Environment
Insurance: Products, Processes, and The Regulatory Environment
Securities: Products, Processes, and The Regulatory Environment 

Sample CFSA Exam Questions
The IIA provides a limited number of sample CFSA exam questions (with answers) to give candidates an understanding of the types of questions that typically appear on the CFSA exam.

Apply for admission to the CCFA program

The IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS) is a powerful, user-friendly application to help you apply for, complete, and maintain your certifications and related information, while keeping you connected to and informed about The IIA’s certification programs.

After you log in, you’ll be able to:

  • Apply for IIA certification programs.
  • Register for IIA certification examinations.
  • Review your certification status.
  • View your exam score report.
  • Review your next steps in the certification process.
  • Update your personal information.
  • Review your credential and exam history. 

Link to:
Job and Industry Codes

If you have any difficulty using the Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS), please reference the CCMS User Guide. Access CCMS here.

Computer-based Testing
The CFSA exam is available through computer-based testing, allowing you to test year-round at more than 500 locations worldwide. Candidates are able to sit for exams at any IIA-authorized Pearson VUE testing center worldwide, regardless of whether the testing center is located in your hometown or country. To locate the testing centers nearest you, visit the Pearson VUE website. You must apply and register in The IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS) prior to scheduling an exam.

You pay by credit card when applying for the program or register for an exam. The pricing structure is as follows:

Members      Non-members

Application Fee           USD 200      USD 300
Exam Fee                      USD 350      USD 450

2017 Certification Candidate Handbook

Exam Preparation Resources
The Certified Financial Services Auditor® (CFSA®) exam is a self-study exam and does not require a prescribed curriculum. Candidates may choose their own method of preparing for the exam.

Each year, CFSA certificate holders are required to self-certify as to the completion of the required continuing education hours. The number of CPE hours to be reported is based on certification statuses of practicing, non-practicing, retired, inactive (grace period), or inactive. It is the CFSA’s responsibility to assure that the CPE hours claimed conform to the guidelines established by The IIA’s Professional Certification Board (PCB). CPE reporting forms are submitted by CFSAs on an annual basis (no later than 31 December each year) and serve as signed statements that all applicable CPE requirements have been met.

CPE Requirement Regarding IIA International Standards

  1. In order to encourage understanding of and compliance with The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (Standards), The IIA’s Professional Certification Board (PCB) has instated a requirement that CFSAs stay abreast of the Standards as part of their CPE.
  2. CFSAs must review or receive training on the Standards at some point during their CPE reporting period.
  3. If you are completing your CPE reporting form and have not already met this requirement, please take a moment to review the Standards before submitting your form.
While there, we also encourage you to review the Practice Advisories (accessible with an IIA member password) and other sections of The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF).

Newly Certified?
New CFSAs are awarded 40 CPE hours. Half of the awarded CPE hours (20) are for the year in which the exam is passed, and the other half are for the subsequent year.

CGAPs must submit CPE reporting forms in The IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS). The reporting deadline is December 31 each year.

In order to facilitate reporting, CFSAs who also hold the CIA designation can satisfy the requirements of both programs by reporting appropriate CPE for the CIA designation only. The Institute will issue an acknowledgment of compliance to each CFSA meeting the requirements of this guidance. The Institute will keep information on the active/inactive status of CFSAs. The PCB, upon request, may grant partial or complete exemption from CPE requirements for individuals when good cause exists, such as military service or individual hardship.

Each CFSA should submit an appropriate CPE reporting form to The Institute, without supporting documentation, in compliance with CPE requirements. Each CFSA should maintain a copy of the CPE reporting form, along with all supporting documentation, for at least three years after the records no longer apply to filed CPE reports. Records must be made available to The Institute or its designee at The Institute’s request. The records maintained by the CFSA in support of the reporting form filed with The Institute should include, as appropriate, the following information:

  • Title of program and/or description of content
  • Dates attended
  • Location of course or program
  • Sponsoring organization
  • Contact hours of credit as recommended by the course sponsor
  • A letter, certificate, or other written independent attestation of course completion
  • Documentation supporting publications, oral presentations, and committee or other participation  CFSA Reporting Categories

Practicing CFSAs
A CFSA who is practicing government auditing must complete a total of 20 hours of acceptable CPE every year.

Non-practicing CFSAs
A CFSA who is not practicing government auditing may request non-practicing status by notifying the Institute in writing. Non-practicing CGAPs must complete a total of 10 hours of acceptable CPE every year. As long as their CPE requirements are met, non-practicing CFSAs may use the CFSA designation; however, if they resume practicing government auditing, they must report as a practicing CFSA.

Retired CFSAs
A CFSA who is not practicing government auditing because of retirement may request retired status by notifying the Institute in writing. Retired CGAPs are not responsible for completing CPE requirements. Retired CFSAs may use the CFSA designation; however, if they resume employment, they must report as a practicing or non-practicing CFSA, as appropriate.

Inactive Status
The Institute automatically places a CFSA in inactive status when the CFSA fails to meet established CPE requirements. CFSAs in the inactive status may not use the CFSA designation. Any wrongful use of the CFSA designation will be reported to the IIA’s Ethics Committee for disciplinary action.

Restoration to Active CFSA Status
Candidates that are inactive for less than 12 months need to report CPE for the prior year. The number of hours required is equivalent to the reporting status (practicing or non-practicing). Candidates that are inactive for greater than 12 months fall under the reinstatement policy and are required to submit 40 hours of CPE. In addition, inactive CFSAs will be required to pay the applicable reinstatement fee at the time of reporting.

Qualifying CPE Activities
It is anticipated that CFSAs will maintain the high standards of the profession in selecting quality educational programs to fulfill the CPE requirements. The following general criteria are to be satisfied in order for a continuing education program to be accepted:

The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program is acceptable is that it shall be a formal program of learning that contributes directly to the professional competence of a CFSA. Acceptable formal programs should:

  1. Contribute to the professional competence of participants.
  2. State program objectives which specify the level of knowledge the participants should have attained, or the level of competence to be demonstrated upon completing the program.
  • State education or experience prerequisites, if appropriate for the program.
  • Be developed by individuals qualified in the subject matter and instructional design.
  • Provide program content which is current.
  • Be on a professional level and related to the CFSA Topic Outline.

Activities other than those listed in this guidance may be deemed acceptable if the CFSA can demonstrate that they contribute to professional competence. Substantiating that a particular activity qualifies as acceptable and meets the requirements is the responsibility of the CFSA.

CPE credit will be awarded for whole hours only with a minimum of 50 minutes constituting one hour. As an example, 100 minutes of continuous instruction would count for two hours; however, more than 50 minutes but less than 100 minutes of continuous instruction would count for only one hour. Only class contact or acceptable self-study hours are allowable. For chapter meetings throughout the reporting period or continuous conferences/conventions when individual segments are less than 50 minutes, the sum of the segments should be considered one total program. For example, five 30-minute presentations would equal 150 minutes and should be counted as three contact hours.

CFSA Examination
Hours are awarded for the year in which the CFSA certification is earned. (Candidates receive 20 hours in the year the certification is awarded and 20 hours the subsequent year).

A maximum of 20 CPE hours may be awarded in the education category each year reported. At least 5 of the 20 CPE hours required must be in this category. Educational activities include:

  1. Professional education and development programs, such as seminars and conferences, provided by national/federal, state, and local auditing and accounting organizations.
  2. Technical sessions at meetings of national/federal, state, and local auditing and accounting organizations and chapters.
  3. Formal in-house training programs.
  4. Programs of other sponsors (industrial, professional societies, etc.).
  5. College or university courses passed (credit and non-credit courses).
  • Fifteen hours of CPE credit are awarded for each semester hour of college/university credit earned;
  • Ten hours of CPE credit are awarded for each quarter hour of college/university credit earned.

6. Other certification examinations passed.

  • A maximum of 20 hours may be awarded in the year passed.
  • 10 CPE hours are awarded for passing each part of another appropriate professional certification examination.

7. Formal correspondence and self-study programs relevant to government audit that include evidence of completion.

A maximum of 10 hours may be awarded in the publications category each year for books, articles, research papers, and training materials. Generally, one full journal page of single-spaced print is equal to two hours of CPE credit. Contributions to publications should pertain to government audit disciplines related to CFSA Examination Topic Outline. Published articles or books not related directly to government audit are acceptable if CFSAs are able to demonstrate that these activities contribute to their professional proficiency.

A maximum of 10 hours may be awarded in the publications category each year. Generally one full journal page of single-spaced print is equal to two hours of CPE credit, with the following limits on one translation:

Books: 12 hours
Articles: 6 hours
Research papers: 6 hours

Translations of publications should pertain to certification domains or disciplines related to the Common Body of Knowledge, and/or the specialty examination topic outlines. Translations of published articles or books not related directly to internal auditing are acceptable if the certified individual is able to demonstrate that these activities contribute to their professional audit proficiency.

Oral Presentations
A maximum of 10 CPE hours may be awarded in the oral presentation category each year. The hours reported for the first presentation will be based on the presentation time, plus credit for preparation time equivalent to three times the presentation time.  Subsequent presentations of the same material may be reported as presentation time only, up to a maximum of 5 CPE hours each year.

A maximum of 10 CPE hours may be awarded in the participation category each year for participation as an officer or committee member in a professional industry organization related to government auditing. One CPE hour for each hour of qualifying participation will be awarded.

External Quality Assessments
A maximum of 10 CPE hours may be awarded each year in the category of external quality assurance review activities. One CPE hour will be awarded for each hour spent on site, with the following limits on any one quality assurance review activity:

  1. Independent (external) validation of an internal audit activity’s self-assessment (as defined in the Professional Practices Framework): maximum of 5 CPE hours per review.
  2. One-week external quality assurance review: maximum of 5 hours per review.
  3. Two-week external quality assurance review: maximum of 10 hours.

No CPE hours will be awarded for activities such as preparation time and writing the report.

CPE Audit Process
On a test basis, The Institute will verify the records of CFSAs and/or course sponsors in a manner deemed appropriate to determine compliance with the requirements set forth in this guidance. The potential penalty for submitting false information will be determined in accordance with the administrative directive, Disciplinary Policies and Procedures.​