As employers increasingly look to fill key roles with CFA charterholders, the growth trends of CFA® Program candidates and CFA Institute members provide a view into the availability of investment skills by region and interest in investment management as a career choice. For several years, the total number of candidates has been highest in the Asia Pacific region, and in 2016, China surpassed the United States in terms of new entrants to the CFA Program. This shift to Asia in the pipeline of professional talent is explored further in the sections that follow.
Competition for roles has led to a CAGR of 5% for CFA Institute members and of 18% for CFA Program candidates over the last three years, as shown in Exhibits 7 and 8, respectively. Currently, there are more than 300,000 CFA Program candidates and 150,000 CFA Institute members. Among the CFA charterholders surveyed, 94% say their CFA charter has helped their career by providing increased credibility, access to jobs (including those in other countries) or a promotion, or because it was a job requirement. In addition, the value of the CFA charter in providing an opportunity for global mobility has increased over time.
Although only 19% of CFA Institute members are women, among CFA Program candidates the number is 38%. In China, women represent more than 50% of total CFA Program candidates. Morningstar analyzed US mutual fund managers by gender and found that women fund managers are more likely to have a CFA designation than men who are fund managers, potentially indicating a need for women to demonstrate greater credibility through professional accreditation; the authors noted that the CFA designation provides an objective measure to demonstrate competence.iii This is consistent with conversations we have with women candidates regarding their motivation to take the exam. To the extent that the pipeline for women investment professionals is growing more rapidly in Asia Pacific, this region may soon offer the global industry the best evidence of the benefits that can accrue from greater gender diversity.
Our survey revealed some mixed messages regarding investment professionals’ identity as members of the investment industry. A strong majority (75%) are proud to be associated with the investment industry (70% of members and 78% of candidates). However, only 40% of members and 46% of candidates are committed to a career in the investment industry; 2% say they are actively seeking to change industries, and the rest would opportunistically switch industries. These do not vary significantly by gender.