Nearly 200,000 people braved the Charted Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute’s exams last June — a record high, according to data released Tuesday.
There were 4,149 more test takers for the first level than in June 2018, but just 38 additional passes. The level-one failure rate for hit a six-year high at 59 percent, data show.
The CFA designation remains the asset management industry’s best-known accreditation. Attaining one involves passing three levels of all-day exams, and holders must pay annual dues.
This year’s increase in test takers suggests strong global appetite for jobs in the field.
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Australia recorded the highest increase in candidate growth among large markets, rising 23 percent year-on-year, according to the institute.
The number of women sitting the tests has more than doubled over the past five years to 39 percent, and hit or passed parity for level-one candidates in Australia and the U.K. These “pockets of gender balance” are a positive sign for the health of the industry, institute managing director Stephen Horan said in a statement. “Research shows that divergent perspectives improve investment outcomes.”
June’s results show record-high attempts for all three levels of the exam, which is administered worldwide twice per year. In total, 45 percent of the 196,768 test takers passed — 41 percent for level one, 44 percent for level two (including II’s Sage Um), and 56 percent for the final stage.
Next year’s test costs between $700 and $1,450 each in registration fees, the CFA Institute’s website shows.
“This is an exciting time to be building a career in the investment profession,” organization CEO Paul Smith said in a statement. “The complexities of delivering returns, particularly within the context of global sustainability, will require more expert analysis and a willingness to bring those skills to bear within and beyond traditional markets.”