Forget the CFA Level 1, with its 38% pass rate and 300 hours of studying. The CFA Institute has decided to go for something a little more accessible. It will soon unveil the Claritas Investment Management Certificate.
You can read all about Claritas here. Fundamentally, it's an introductory exam for people interested in working in the investment management, investment banking and related industries. Unlike the CFA, it's not targeted at people with aspirations to get into the front office.
"Claritas isn't aimed at investment managers," explains Steve Wellard, head of marketing and communications (EMEA) at the CFA Institute. "It's aimed at people who work in the middle and back office and even in related industries like professional services - lawyers working with financial services firms might take it for example."
In this sense, Claritas sounds a little like the IMC, which is a threshold qualification for aspiring financial services professionals in the United Kingdom and is run by the CFA's UK branch. However, Wellard says this is wrong: "The IMC is more rules and regulation focused than Claritas. The IMC is also intended for people who will work in the front office."
Claritas should appeal to people who want to demonstrate a baseline of knowledge about the financial services industry, says Wellard. Investment banks have already shown an interest in the qualification as part of their graduate training programmes.
If you want to signal your appropriateness for a career in financial services, should you therefore be thinking of taking Claritas instead of the CFA Level 1? Maybe not. Wellard suggests CFA Level 1 is much more difficult. It will therefore remain the better differentiator. "Claritas is a single exam which requires 100 hours of study and involves 120 multiple choice questions over 2 hours," he says. "There's not really much comparison to the CFA Level 1 qualification which is more like a masters in finance and requires that you study for 300 hours.
"Claritas will provide an overview," Wellard adds.
The best thing about Claritas is likely to be the pass rate. Wellard says the Institute expects this to be in the 60-75% range. "We'd like three out of four people who take Claritas to pass, instead of the 35% or so who pass the CFA Level 1 globally," he says.
Interested? Unfortunately Claritas isn't on offer yet. Registrations will open in May next year and the first exam will take place in July.