A higher percentage of hopefuls for the chartered financial analyst designation passed the first level of their three-part exam in December.
Forty-four percent of applicants passed the test, the CFA Institute said Tuesday on its website, up from 42% in June and 43% in December 2013. Candidates may take the Level 1 exam in both June and December, unlike the two latter levels, which are available once a year.
Global investment banks have cut headcount and are reducing the portion of revenue set aside for compensation as trading slumps and regulators demand more capital. Wall Street workers pursue certification for the promise of better jobs, higher salaries and a deeper understanding of finance.
More than 47,000 financial professionals sat for the latest test, an increase of about 3% from a year earlier. 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 CFA Institute.