43% pass the CFA exams worldwide

A record number of candidates sat for the June 2012 CFA exams, despite challenging times for the investment industry and global economy. Forty-three percent of 119,446 investment professionals worldwide passed the exams, showing a strong commitment to professional excellence and restoring trust in finance. These individuals have joined the CFA Institute effort to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow.

Of 24,754 Level III candidates (up from 22,784 in June 2011), 52 percent passed the third and final exam to earn the industry gold standard CFA charter. CFA Institute expects that the majority of candidates who passed the Level III exam will become CFA charterholders starting in early October pending experience and membership requirements, bringing the number of charterholders worldwide to more than 105,000. Of 49,445 candidates who took the Level I exam (up from 48,068 in June 2011), the global pass rate was 38 percent. Of 45,247 candidates who took the Level II exam (up from 44,175 in June 2011), the global pass rate was 42 percent. (View historical pass rates)

“Every successful candidate and new CFA charterholder that we honor today has shown an active personal commitment to restore ethics and integrity in finance. They are the future of this profession,” John Rogers, CFA, president and CEO of CFA Institute, said. “These highly trained professionals are prepared to uphold the highest standards of ethics and practice as fiduciaries and stewards for the industry, in a mission to restore investor trust.”

In an effort to restore trust, CFA Institute has made strong public advances in recent months to actively promote the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence. One such effort announced at its 65th Annual Conference in May is the Integrity List, a collection of tangible steps that investment professionals can take to restore trust in the profession. CFA candidates and charterholders draw on tools like this to focus on building a profession which puts investors first.

To earn the CFA charter, candidates must sequentially pass three six-hour exams that are widely considered to be the most rigorous in the investment profession. 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. CFA Institute has administered well over a million exams since the inauguration of the CFA program in 1963.

At an average, candidates report spending in excess of 300 hours of study to prepare for each level. CFA candidates typically take four years to pass the three required exams. The Level I exam is offered twice per year, and the Level II and Level III exams are offered once each year. The Level I exam consists of multiple-choice questions. Level II is composed of item sets (i.e., mini cases with detailed vignettes), and the Level III questions are 50 percent item set and 50 percent short answer and essay.

The 2012 exams were given at 269 test centers in 194 cities worldwide. Examples of countries and territories with the largest number of candidates that took the CFA exam are the United States (30,040), Mainland China (16,010), India (10,975), Canada (10,007), the United Kingdom (8,181), Hong Kong (6,409), and Singapore (3,446).

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