(Updates with comments from CFA Institute president starting in the fifth paragraph.)
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A lower percentage of hopefuls for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation passed the first level of their three-part exam in December.
Thirty-seven percent of applicants passed the first test, the CFA Institute said on its website today, down from 38 percent when the test was last given in June 2012 and a year earlier in December 2011.
Almost 49,000 financial professionals sat for the latest test, a 1 percent decrease from a year earlier. Certification can lead to better jobs, higher salaries and a deeper understanding of finance. Candidates may take the Level 1 exam in both June and December, unlike the two latter levels, which are available once a year.
Financial firms worldwide have announced more than 300,000 job cuts since the start of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Banks are reducing costs as trading slumps and regulators demand more capital.
A majority of CFA members said a lack of ethical culture on Wall Street is contributing to low investor confidence, John Rogers, president of the CFA Institute, said in a “Bloomberg Surveillance” television interview last month. Each of the three CFA exams includes a section on ethics.
Successful charter recipients spend an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam and typically take four years to complete all three tests, according to the not-for-profit institute.
“You can compare it to training for a marathon,” Rogers said last month. “If you don’t stay with your training schedule and your discipline, you won’t be ready for that marathon.”
The CFA Institute this month announced a certificate program it said may help restore integrity in the capital markets by targeting investment advisers’ support staff. The Claritas Investment Certificate provides additional training for financial-services employees and is open to specialists in operations, compliance, human resources and marketing.
--With assistance from Tom Keene in New York. Editors: Rick Green, Steven Crabill