CFA Exam Draws Record Numbers as Bankers Seek Competitive Edge

CFA Exam Draws Record Numbers as Bankers Seek Competitive Edge
Wire: BLOOMBERG News (BN) Date: 2009-05-13 04:00:01

By Michael J. Moore
May 13 (Bloomberg) -- A record 128,600 investmentprofessionals have enrolled to take the Chartered Financial Analyst exam in June, angling to gain a hiring edge as thefinancial-services industry sheds jobs. Candidates from 154 countries are scheduled to take one of three levels of the CFA exam, the Charlottesville, Virginia-based CFA Institute said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The first level of the exam is offered in December and June; the final two levels are administered only in June. Last year’stotal of 118,500 candidates was the previous record. Professionals take the CFA exam betting the certificationcan become a path to better jobs, higher salaries and a deeperunderstanding of finance. Financial firms have cut more than 311,000 jobs since the credit crisis began in 2007, according todata compiled by Bloomberg. “Now more than ever we need well-trained, ethicallycentered investment professionals operating in the financialmarkets,” Bob Johnson, senior managing director of CFA Institute, said in the statement. “Candidates and charter-holders regularly tell me that when looking for a new job orworking with potential and current clients, the CFA designation distinguishes them from those without the charter.” Wall Street has suffered from the financial crisis that claimed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos. New York City has lost more than 23,000 financial jobs from the beginning of 2007, and that number maydouble by the second quarter of 2010, according to the city’s Office of Management and Budget.

250 Hours of Study
There are about 84,000 CFA charter holders globally, according to the statement. The not-for-profit CFA Institute recommends candidates spend at least 250 hours studying for each phase of the test. It costs about $2,500 and takes an average of four years to complete all three levels. Of the 49,797 people who sat for the Level 1 exam inDecember, 35 percent passed. Topics range from ethical standards and securities valuation to financial statement analysis and portfolio management. The CFA program started in 1963 and stems in part from Benjamin Graham, a pioneer of value investing who mentored Warren Buffett and advocated a rating system for financial analysts.

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