CFA exam continues to be a challenge

January 24, 2012 | Last updated on January 24, 2012
2 min read

As market volatility continues to shake investor confidence and the industry strives to rebuild trust, an increasing number of investment professionals still seek the gold standard of CFA charter.

In December 2011, 49,380 financial professionals sat for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program Level I exam, with 18,736 (38%) managing to pass the exam. Over the past decade, the pass rate for the Level I exam has ranged from a high of 46% in June 2009, to a low of 34%, in December of the same year.

The December Level I exam was given at 95 test centers in 67 cities worldwide. The United States can still claim the largest number of candidates (11,514), followed by China (6,638), India (5,135), Canada (3,648), the United Kingdom (3,691), Hong Kong (2,826), Singapore (1,865), and South Africa (1,040).

There was a 6% increase in the number of candidates that sat for the latest exam, with Canada matching that global increase.

“The CFA Program benefits from a continuous, global practice analysis that identifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice in the current market environment. The strength of the CFA Program comes from its relevance to practicing investment professionals today,” said Tom Robinson, CFA, managing director of education at CFA Institute.

To earn the CFA designation, candidates must pass all three levels of exam, meet the work experience requirements of four years in the investment industry, sign a commitment to abide by the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, as well as apply to a CFA Institute society and become a member of CFA Institute.

Level I exams are held in both June and December, and Levels II and III are held only in June. It takes most candidates more than three years to complete the CFA Program.

“The investment profession continues to be deeply affected by the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis and in such times, the value of truly relevant professional education and credentials comes to the fore,” said John Rogers, CFA, president and CEO of the global CFA Institute. “These successful candidates have shown their commitment to the highest standards of excellence, rigor, and relevance in financial education and I congratulate them on their achievement in passing Level I.”