More CFAs buoy hopes for finance

Updated: 2014-09-15 06:51

By Wei Tian in Shanghai(China Daily)

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China is expected to overtake the United States to become the largest pool of chartered financial analysts within two decades, a vital step on its road to being a global financial power.

Paul Smith, Asia-Pacific managing director of the CFA Institute, which organizes the test for such credentials, said there are about 3,300 CFA charter holders in China, and that number is expected to hit about 4,000 in the next two months.

There are 60,000 charter holders in the US, and 123,000 worldwide who have passed all three levels of the exam and collected four years of related experience.

Smith expects to see more CFAs in China than in the US in 20 years, and the number of Chinese CFAs is expected to double that of the US in 40 years.

"China has more than three times the population of the United States, and that's the potential we have," he told China Daily.

The number of charter holders in China will grow by 10 to 15 percent a year, Smith said.

But he added that growth will depend on the pace with which China liberalizes its financial market and opens to international businesses.

The fast growth in CPAs will ease the booming demand for financial talent in China as the central government gradually removes restrictions and allows more private and foreign competitors in the sector.

A report by China's leading online recruiting website,, showed that in the first half of this year, demand for financial talent surged by 93 percent year-on-year nationwide, among which first-tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou were growing even faster with 118 percent growth in demand for financial employees.

Chen Hu, a fund manager with China Southern Fund and a Shanghai-based CFA, said the current number of financial employees accounts for less than 3 percent of Shanghai's workforce, while in other global financial centers such as London, the proportion is above 10 percent.

According to its 12th Five Year Plan (2011-15) for Shanghai's financial sector, the local government is looking to have 3,000 CFAs in the city by 2015, and 320,000 financial employees, or 5 percent of the workforce.

But some of the Chinese candidates said they were not certain about the use of a CFA designation, as it had not yet been very helpful in their career development.

Michael Li, an employee of one of the "big four" State-owned commercial banks in China, said he passed the CFA Level 3 exam and has more than five years' related experience, but he was not in a hurry to apply for a certificate to become a charter holder.

"I didn't take the CFA exam to get a better job. More people are passing the exam and I don't see much value in it," said the 30-year-old.

According to the CFA Institute, Chinese candidates are still generally younger compared with those of other countries - 83 percent of the Chinese candidates are under age 30, while the global level is 71 percent.

"It is a priority task to encourage more employers in China to hire CFA charter holders," Smith said.

In China, the number of employers paying CFA fees is still significantly lower than in the US, but Smith said the Shanghai government and China Securities Regulatory Commission, China's top securities regulator, are very supportive of expanding CFA education.

(China Daily USA 09/15/2014 page1)