CFA Applicants’ Pass Rate Drops for Exam’s First Levels

CFA Applicants’ Pass Rate Drops for First Two Levels of Exam
Candidates complete Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam in New York. Photographer: Jade-Snow Moy/Bloomberg

A lower percentage of hopefuls for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation passed the first and second levels of their three-part exam in June compared with a year earlier.

Thirty-eight percent of applicants passed the first test, the CFA Institute said today, down from 39 percent on the June 2011 exam. Forty-two percent of applicants passed the second level, compared with 43 percent a year earlier.

The number of people who enrolled to take the exams in June jumped 27 percent in the last four years as candidates seek a hiring edge amid job cuts in the financial industry. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are all seeking to reduce costs and staff in investment-banking units after a slowdown in trading and merger volume.

Candidates can take the Level 1 exam in both June and December, unlike the two latter levels, which are available once a year. Thirty-eight percent of candidates passed the Level 1 exam in December 2011. Level 3 results will be released on Aug. 7.

Almost 150,000 candidates from 169 countries registered to take the tests in June, the organization said in May.

Applicants seek the certification in the hope it will lead to better jobs, higher salaries and a deeper understanding of finance. Successful charter recipients spend an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam and typically take four years to complete all three tests, according to the not-for-profit institute.

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