Antipodeans bright sparks at CFA exams

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Australians and Kiwis have the highest pass rates globally for one of the financial services industry's most challenging exams.

Last year, a substantially higher proportion of candidates in Sydney and Auckland passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams than anywhere else in the world. While the average global pass rate for the CFA Level One exam was 34%, pass rates in Sydney and Auckland were 43% and 47% respectively.

A massive 89% of candidate's in Auckland and 80% in Sydney passed the CFA Level Three exam, compared to a global average of 64%.

The CFA exams are typically taken by people working in the investment management industry, but are also taken by equity analysts and corporate financiers. Candidates who pass all three exams are awarded the coveted CFA Charter.

Contrary to national stereotypes, Bob Johnson, a US-based managing director at the CFA Institute, which runs the exams, says candidates in New Zealand and Australia are among the most serious and best prepared in the world.

Victoria Rati, a CFA holder and vice president of the Sydney Society of Financial Analysts, which helps people taking the CFA exams, says Australian candidates are particularly willing to complete 250 hours of study recommended for each level of the CFA: "We have a culture of putting in the hours, which is a key factor in maximising one's chances of passing the CFA exams."

A recent study by the International Labour Organisation found Australians and New Zealanders work some of the longest hours of anyone globally, second only to Japan.

Hard work back home is less evident than overseas, however. Phil Morey, managing director of BPP Financial Training, a CFA trainer in the City of London, said Australasian CFA candidates don't stand out as any better than Brits and Americans. Maybe they're outside enjoying the British summer weather...

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