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Fifty-six per cent of CFA candidates passed the Level III CFA program exam in June, according to a press release issued by the CFA Institute on Tuesday.

That means more than 21,400 of the 38,377 candidates who wrote the exam in June are one step closer to becoming CFA charterholders, pending verification of their professional experience. Currently, more than 167,000 investment professionals worldwide hold the CFA charter, the release said.

Level I and II CFA Program candidates received their exam results on Aug. 6. Forty-one per cent of the 83,656 candidates who wrote the Level I exam passed. Of the 74,735 candidates who took the Level II exam, 44% passed.

The CFA Institute said it had “record global participation” in exams this year, adding that the number of women taking CFA tests “has more than doubled” over the past five years. Women now account for 39% of CFA candidates, and female participation among Level 1 candidates in markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom has “reached or surpassed parity.”

The pockets of gender balance emerging in global candidate pools is a positive sign for the future health of the industry and for investors because research shows that divergent perspectives improve investment outcomes,” Stephen Horan, managing director for credentialing and for the Americas region at the CFA Institute, said in the release.

The release noted that, among the top 10 CFA markets, Australia has recorded the highest increase in CFA candidate growth, with the number of exam-takers up 23% over the previous year.

The June Level I, II and III exams were administered in 343 test centres in 192 cities worldwide, the release stated.