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The CFA Institute is seeing growth in the number of women taking its internationally recognized three-level Chartered Financial Analyst exam program, with Australia seeing the highest increase, 23%, in test-takers this year compared to 2018.

Over the past five-years, the number of female test takers in the CFA Program has more than doubled, and now accounts for 39% of candidates.

“The pockets of gender balance emerging in global candidate pools is a positive sign for the future health of the industry and for investors because research shows that divergent perspectives improve investment outcomes,” Stephen Horan, managing director for Credentialing and for the Americas region at CFA Institute, said in a recent statement.

“As firms improve diversity, we can begin to see that the investment profession of the future is more likely to be reflective of the investor population it serves,” Horan explained.

The CFA Institute announced in mid-August that of 38,377 candidates who sat for the Level III CFA Program exam in June, 56% passed, completing their final CFA exam and becoming eligible to become CFA charterholders pending verification of professional experience.

More than 167,000 investment professionals worldwide hold the CFA charter credential.

The CFA Institute notes that its CFA Program curriculum “constantly evolves,” with the curriculum studied by candidates this year including an overview of fintech, machine learning and professionalism in investment management.

The group also plans to add topics on cryptocurrencies and blockchain to its Level I and II curricula for the first time next year.

Other Trends

Paul Smith, CFA Institute president and CEO, told ThinkAdvisor Thursday that “There is increasing investor interest in ESG topics as evidenced by the weight of money going into these strategies globally.”

Smith explained: “However, when asked, most investment managers are finding difficulty in gaining access to data around these topic areas that helps them to make informed decisions. The standard of corporate reporting is variable and the various accounting bodies have, to date, provided little additional guidance.”

At the same time, Smith continued, “sustainable growth is one of the most hotly debated topics within society at large. The combination of all of these factors makes this area of investment one of the most complex that professionals face. Whilst this is a problem it is also an opportunity for well trained professionals to exercise their judgment and skill.”

Candidates in Cambodia and Myanmar were able to sit for their CFA exam in their home country following the introduction of test centers this year in Phnom Penh and Yangon, the institute notes.

Candidates in Australia, India, Nigeria and the United Kingdom could also select from new test centers in Brisbane, Bhopal, Abuja and Birmingham, respectively.

Computer-based testing will also be introduced for Level I candidates in 2021.