CFA Institute says financial analysts aren’t making the grade

Pass rate for CFA exam lowest in years

The latest CFA Institute exam results are a sad tree for financial analysts worldwide.

One of the ways America can get itself back on track financially is to turn out a solid crop of new financial analysts who can get started sound principals to the way we manage our money, both personally and professionally. Payday loans are a short-term bridge, but sound budgeting is the long-term answer. All we have to do is turn out that crop of new graduates from the CFA Institute, right? They’ll take the reins.

Unless they aren’t making the grade

That’s what the CFA Institute is saying about the recent set of scores for the CFA exam. According to Businessweek, “the lowest percentage of candidates in four years passed the first level of the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, a designation that may offer an edge after the industry’s worst shakeout in at least three decades.” All told, 34 percent passed the Level 1 CFA exam. CFA exam topics range from ethics and securities to statement analysis and managing a portfolio. The concepts for study were developed by Benjamin Graham, a proponent of value investing who showed Warren Buffett the ropes.

Are we financially stupid?

Government spends money it doesn’t have. Tax revenues aren’t even a drop in the bucket for the hungry monster that is the national debt. CFA consumers are looking for a promised land of higher pay, greater respect and financial knowledge. Perhaps the largesse of America is rubbing off on them. Or maybe they aren’t studying the 300 hours the CFA Institute recommends for each test level. Yes, it’s a serious commitment, folks.

And they’re coming in waves

“Despite challenging economic conditions, more than 44,000 individuals around the world took the Level 1 exam in December,” said CFA Institute CEO John Rogers to Newsweek. “This is a remarkable testimony to the dedication of candidates to the CFA Program and to their commitment to excellence and integrity in the investment arena.”

I’d say a higher Level 1 pass rate would be a more remarkable testimony.

FYI: That 34 percent pass rate wasn’t just for America

The Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia are included in that sobering statistic. Thirty-one countries offered the exam, and of the 44,000-plus, more than 20,000 came from the Asia region. As many financial service companies have slashed and burned jobs during this recession, there is a demand for the CFA Institute to certify new, cheaper employees.

I’ll tell you one thing: if any CFA Institute students missed out on CFA exam study time because of car trouble, they could have used payday loans to get back on the road to improving the global financial landscape.

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