The Asia Pacific region continues to provide the largest source of candidates, accounting for 47 percent of all candidates in the December 2015 exam. Globally, China had the second-largest number of exam takers, with 9,502 candidates (the United States leads with 11,676 candidates) and India, third with 4,991 candidates.
Apart from China and India, the largest number of candidates in Asia Pacific came from Hong Kong (2,110), Singapore (1,591) and South Korea (1,095). The number of candidates in Asia Pacific sat in the exam grew by approximately 11 percent to 24,482 in 2015.
CFA Institute, the global association of investment management professionals, reports that 43 percent of the 52,315 candidates that took the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level I exam in December 2015 have passed.
The CFA Program is a globally recognized, graduate level curriculum that links theory and practice with real-world investment analysis, and emphasizes the highest ethical and professional standards. These successful candidates now progress to Level II of the CFA Program, having taken the first step towards leading the way in building a sustainable investment profession.
“For more than 50 years, CFA Institute has minted credentialed practitioners who adhere to the highest educational, professional, and ethical standards and are committed to putting investor interests first,” said Jan Richards, CFA, president of CFA Singapore Society, a member society of CFA Institute in Singapore.
Singapore, with 1,591 candidates, remains among the top five Asia Pacific markets for the number of exam takers. The continued popularity and demand for the CFA certification in the Republic is indicative of macroeconomic factors impacting the local finance sector, hiring trends that indicate local firms are finding fewer qualified candidates with the skills and experience needed, as well as the renewed value and demand for regulatory contractors with knowledge of international rules and regulations.
The December 2015 exam saw a record number of Level I candidates tested, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year. Additionally, in June and December of 2015 the highest total number of more than 103,000 candidates sat for Level I of the CFA Program, an increase of nearly 10 percent on 2014.
These record numbers of candidates reflect the increasing credibility of the exam and the growing demand from employers and regulators for the CFA designation. The December 2015 Level I exam was administered in 102 test centres in 71 cities across 40 countries worldwide.
“As Singapore continues to develop into an international financial centre, professionals in the sector need to be proactive in developing world-class skills and embracing continuous learning in order to create purposeful careers. Our most recent batch of successful candidates is now one step closer to earning the CFA designation – a mark of distinction that is globally recognized as the definitive standard for industry ethics and education,” Richards added.
To earn the CFA designation, candidates must pass all three levels of exam (successful candidates often report dedicating in excess of 300 hours of study per level); 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; apply to a CFA Institute society; and become a member of CFA Institute.
The CFA Program curriculum develops knowledge and competencies that investment professionals deem necessary in today’s ever changing marketplace. It covers ethical and professional standards, securities analysis and valuation, international financial statement analysis, quantitative methods, economics, corporate finance, portfolio management, wealth management and portfolio analysis.
“The CFA Program is incredibly well-regarded,” said Jeff Spector, CFA, VP of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances, FactSet. “It’s known for its integrity, the difficulty of the exams, and its stature in the industry. There are many professional benefits of earning the CFA charter but the real outcome benefits our clients as we develop the investment knowledge base to serve their needs.”
Candidates seek CFA charter for career advancement
According to the 2015 CFA Program Candidate Survey, more than 60 percent of respondents see career advancement and development opportunities as the main personal benefit to taking up the CFA Program, closely followed by helping to achieve long term career goals.
Furthermore, 98 percent of candidates who responded believe that the CFA Program improved their understanding of important topics and, on a scale of one (very low level value) to 10 (very high level value), rate the value of the CFA charter as 8.9.
Candidates are very positive towards employment with 92 percent of candidates, who responded expecting employment opportunities for investment management professionals to increase or stay the same over the next six months.