Candidates entering the CFA Program in this year’s exam cycle grew by 15%, to 102,514 people, show numbers from the CFA Institute.

The growth has been strongest in mainland China, where Level I candidate registrations reached a record high of 22,999, surpassing the number of registrations in the United States for the first time.

This spring, 58,677 people worldwide took the Level I exam, with a pass rate of 43%. Another 50,230 people sat for the Level II exam globally in June. The pass rate was 46%.

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Further, 28,884 people wrote the Level III CFA exam in June, and 54% passed. (See historical pass rates.) If they get enough experience and fulfill other membership requirements, they’ll become CFA charterholders starting in early October.

The top 10 countries and territories with the largest number of candidates tested are the United States (31,501), mainland China (26,758), India (12,117), Canada (11,136), United Kingdom (9,717), Hong Kong (5,359), Singapore (3,433), Australia (2,915), South Africa (2,006), and France (1,784).

To earn the CFA charter, candidates must pass all three levels of the exam; have four years of experience in the investment industry; sign a commitment to abide by the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct; and become a member of CFA Institute.

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Successful candidates study approximately 1,000 hours on average to master 8,500 pages of curriculum. The CFA curriculum includes ethical and professional standards; financial reporting and analysis; corporate finance; economics; quantitative methods; equity, fixed income, alternative investments; derivatives; portfolio management; and wealth planning. Its depth and breadth provides a strong foundation of advanced investment analysis and practical portfolio management skills, which gives investment professionals a career advantage.

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VINCE FABIANOLast summer, deputy editor Suzanne Sharma interviewed advisor Vince Fabiano (pictured, left) about getting his CFA. It took Fabiano, who was also starting his own practice at the time, several attempts before making it through all three exams.

He told Advisor:

“I took the designation very lightly, thinking that, like [in] my university years, I could cram and still get a decent mark,” explains the senior financial advisor at ATB Securities Inc. in Calgary. “It was a rude awakening when I realized it was going to take a lot more effort than just studying on the weekends.”

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