It was in 1963 that the first Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exams were held with the aim of creating a benchmark for professional standards and a means through which to certify and raise the standards of the finance profession. With 2016 marking the CFA’s fifty third anniversary milestone, it also presents a time to reflect on where the profession is at today and where the CFA can still take you in the future.
Certainly a lot has changed in the last five decades and the finance world of today is still reeling from the implications of the global financial crisis and a series of financial scandals and disasters. This situation has only served toincrease the CFA’s relevance and demand in the workplace. As businesses have been made more aware of the need to protect their images and change their corporate culture, they are looking for human resources whonot only possess first-rate skills and competence but also integrity. Signing a commitment to abide by the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct is one integral part of achieving CFA status; the other parts involve passing three exams, and completing four years of work experience in the investment industry. Noting that the financial community continues to face a crisis of investor trust, John Rogers, CFA, president and CEO of CFA Institute, says, “The next generation of investment professionals is instrumental in shaping the future of finance,” and that successful CFA candidates have “the opportunity to build the kind of industry culture that puts investors first and better serves society.”
The new reality of the post financial crisis world is also shaping the career opportunities available to CFA charterholders. Morgan International instructor Darren Degraaf teaches materials to candidates taking the CFA exams, and he is quoted as saying that charterholders are seeing a shift in the types of roles for which they are in demand. “Job growth for candidates or members besides other front office roles are moving to mid office roles, especially in risk management and compliance,” he says. Indeed the CFA Institute notes that there has been a “hiring spree” for these functions, which are seen as critical by firms trying to rebuild reputations and comply with regulations.
Another shift that Degraaf notes is the high growth of candidates in Asia Pacific, especially in China and India – where candidates from this region are closing in other 50% mark, with roughly half of those students from either India or China. The United Arab Emirates is also among the top 10 in terms of student numbers from the 39 countries worldwide where the exam was administered. This shift in origin of candidates is an indication both of Asia Pacific’s increasing importance in the international financial markets and the globalization of the industry. In total 58,677 students around the world took the Level 1 CFA exam in June 2016 and recorded a 43% pass rate.
In addition to contributing to the ethical standards of the financial industry, those that pass the CFA Program can feel assured that they hold a globally recognized certification capable of opening doors in what is an increasingly competitive job market.