Most financial analysts sitting CFA exam fail

Patricia Kiwanuka
Revenue Stream managing director Patricia Kiwanuka (left), Strathmore University Institute of Public Policy and Governance Programme director Thomas Kibua and Institute of Human Resource Management Executive Director Dorcas Wainaina at a past event. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Less than 40 percent of Kenyan financial analysts seeking accreditation from the global body were awarded charters after most who undertook its gruelling examinations, considered one of the sector’s hardest, failed.

This is according to the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society of East Africa that last week awarded 38 Kenyans charters for 2019 out of more than 106 analysts that sat the final level exam.

The performance is an improvement from 2016 when only 20 Kenyans received charters. That same year, only 6 analysts in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda got the charters.

This year's awardees bring the total number of charter holders in Kenya to 198. 

More than 700 financial analysts had enrolled in different levels of the programme in 2019 with a view to clinching the coveted certification.


A chartered financial analyst is a globally-recognised professional designation given by the CFA Institute. It certifies the competence and integrity of financial analysts.

The performance, however, comes as demand for CFA charters in Kenya has grown over the years. This is because the charter is considered an asset for anyone seeking a career and senior roles in investment management.

“Of late, we have seen a rise in demand for the programme by investment managers and financial analysts from investment companies, mutual funds, brokers’ investment banks, research analysts, financial advisers and risk managers,” said Patricia Kiwanuka, CFA East Africa president.

The current pass rate as at June 2019 stands at over 30 percent for the final level of the exam.

Ms Kiwanuka attributes the high failure rate to the programme’s high cost and rigour.

“For one to receive a charter, one needs to commit a minimum investment of about 1,000 hours and more than Sh300,000,” she said.

The CFA exam has three levels. The tough exam asks questions from an array of topics including ethics, financial reporting, portfolio management and economics.

Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect Kenya's current pass rate.