June 2017 CFA Candidate Survey

Each year, we survey CFA Program candidates before and after the June exam to measure and improve the CFA candidate experience. The surveys ask for feedback across several areas, including exam preparation, charter value, exam day feedback, and employment outlook.

Candidate Survey Profile

The June 2017 CFA candidates represent a diverse, global community of current and aspiring investment management professionals, ranging in age from 21 to 76, from 184 international markets. 70% report they have full- or part-time employment.

72% are employed, full time or part time; 19% are students; 5% are unemployed but looking for work; 2% are self-employed, full time or part time; 1% are unemployed and not looking for work; and 0.07% are retired

Top job functions of employed candidates

16%   Research, investment, or quantitative analyst
9%   Accountant or auditor  

8%   Consultant
5%   Credit analyst                     

5%   Risk analyst/manager        
5%   Portfolio manager           

5%   Relationship/account manager      

Exam Preparation

Average amount of time preparing for the exam

Candidates spent an average 320 hours preparing for the exam, with Level III candidates reporting the most time preparing. The most commonly used study materials were the CFA Institute curriculum (78%) and the CFA Institute mock exam (76%).

candidates spend an average of 322 hours studying; Level I is an average of 304 hours, Level II an average of 329 hours, and Level III an average of 334 hours

Candidates use these resources to prepare

What resources did candidates use to prepare for the CFA exam? 80% said CFA Institute curriculum; 67% said CFA Institute mock exam; 53% said Non-CFA Institute preparatory materials; 49% said CFA Institute Topic Tests; 44% said CFA Program curriculum end-of-reading problems; 15% said mobile study app; 11% said CFA Institute interactive study planner; 9% said local study group; and 4% said other.

Curriculum and Exam Value

Overall, candidates are highly satisfied with the quality of the exam and exam administration experience, with 97% agreeing that the CFA Program curriculum improved their understanding of important topics and that the end of reading problems helped explain the concepts.

Candidates report that exam questions

91%   Are based on the Learning Outcome Statements
91%   Fairly represent the 2017 CFA Institute-assigned curriculum
88%   Cover subject matter important to investment professionals
79%   Are clearly written
58%   Are as difficult as they had expected (24% more difficult than expected and 9% less difficult than expected)

Top 3 most difficult topic areas

Levels I and II rated fixed income, derivatives, and financial reporting and analysis as the 3 most difficult topic areas. Level III rated fixed income, ethical and professional standards, and portfolio management as the 3 most difficult topic areas.


Charter Value, Program Awareness, and Career Relevance

Candidates rate the value of earning the charter very high: 8.9 out of 10. In terms of CFA Program awareness, 88% of employed candidates report their employer is aware of the CFA Program. Career advancement remains the primary motivation for registering for the exam and 86% said they are likely to recommend the CFA Program to someone else.

82% of candidates became aware of CFA Program via word of mouth 

Candidates first became aware of CFA Program from a

19%   Friend
17%   Professor
16%   Classmate
15%   Colleague
6%   Manager
6%   Family member

Primary motivations for registering for the June 2017 CFA exam

Primary motivations for registering were: 36% career advancement/development opportunities; 19% increased competency with advanced investment analysis and portfolio management skills; 13% to gain professional status in a global community of investment management professionals; 11% improved chances of obtaining a job; 10% to challenge myself; 4$ recognition from my employer/potential employers; 7% other

Employment Outlook

In the coming 12 months, do you expect employment opportunities for investment management professionals in your local market to increase, decrease, or stay about the same?

To compare responses, select a market from the dropdown menu. Answers with 3% or less are not displayed. Responses may not add up to 100%.
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