Market Overview

More than 14,500 Pass Level III CFA Exam, Join CFA Institute in Leading the Investment Management Profession


CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, announced that of 27,468 candidates who sat for the Level III CFA exam in June 2015, 53 percent passed the third and final exam. These 14,664 successful candidates will become CFA charterholders in early October pending experience and membership requirements. This number of professionals, who will adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Standards and Ethics and pledge to place the integrity of the profession and the interests of clients above their own interests, could fill the largest hotel in Las Vegas twice over. It is an encouraging step toward building an investment management profession that investors believe adds value to society.

In addition, of 46,841 candidates who took the Level II exam, 46 percent were successful and of 51,134 candidates who took the Level I exam, the pass rate was 42 percent; globally 57,476 candidates passed Levels I, II, and III, with the overall pass rate for all three levels at 46 percent. Less than one in five candidates who begin the program end up finishing, which is testament to the determination and mastery of professional competencies demonstrated by successful Level III candidates. (View historical pass rates).

At the recent 68th CFA Institute Annual Conference in Frankfurt, Paul Smith, CFA, president and CEO, challenged investment professionals to make more of an impact for investors and society, in order to advance the value of the global profession and make the world a better place for investors. Smith called on all participants in investment management to demonstrate what it means to be a profession by promoting the highest standards of education and professional conduct; develop professionalism at every level; and advocate for policy and thought leadership that benefits investors and society at large.

"Investors have the right to be served by ethical professionals who act as stewards of their investments," said Paul Smith, CFA, president and CEO, CFA Institute. "As professionals and through their dedication and commitment to the CFA Program and the CFA Institute code of ethics, today's successful candidates join us in our pursuit to build professionalism, raise standards, and prove the value of the investment profession. If we all work together to nurture a culture of ethical behavior, investor protection, and market integrity, we can make a difference."

Journey from candidate to charterholder takes commitment

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 and accrue four years of relevant work experience. 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.

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. On 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. When asked what their primary motivation for registering for the CFA exam is candidates cite career advancement, a higher level of knowledge and improved chances of obtaining a job as the top three reasons.

The 2015 exams were given at 263 test centers in 196 cities, across 90 countries worldwide. Markets with the largest number of candidates that took the CFA exam are the United States (30,715), China (21,057), India (10,651), Canada (10,651), the United Kingdom (8,746), Hong Kong (5,189), and Singapore (3,193).

CFA Institute has more than 125,000 charterholders around the world who work in some of the most prominent firms, including JP Morgan Chase, PwC, HSBC, and FactSet. Employers know that by hiring charterholders, teams are strengthened with professionals who have an in-depth understanding of client needs, and the capacity to tailor and implement specific solutions.

Recently, as part of its Future of Finance initiative, a long-term global effort to shape a trustworthy, forward-thinking financial industry that better serves society, CFA Institute recognized Putting Investors First Month through a series of events which spanned the month of May. The initiative united financial professionals throughout the world in a commitment to place investor interests above all others. Putting Investors First Month activities took place in 45 countries throughout the world, by 93 member societies representing more than 85,000 investment professionals.

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion for ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. The end goal: to create an environment where investors' interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. CFA Institute has over 133,000 members in 151 countries and territories, including 125,500 CFA charterholders, and 145 member societies. For more information, visit

CFA Institute
Sarah-Jane Purvis, +44 (0)207-330-9559

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