CFA Lets Hong Kong Applicants Take Exam Later Amid Protests

Bei Hu
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CFA Lets Hong Kong Applicants Take Exam Later Amid Protests

(Bloomberg) -- The CFA Institute is pushing back its December exam in Hong Kong by three days and has given thousands of applicants in the city other options as protests escalate across one of the world’s largest financial hubs.

Under the revised plan, candidates will sit for the Level I exam on Dec. 10 at the AsiaWorld-Expo, rather than on Dec. 7, according to Nick Pollard, Asia-Pacific managing director for the institute. The organization also offered the option to receive a full refund, sit for the test at another location or hold off until the next round in June.

More than 3,400 people registered to take the first part of the grueling three-level program in Hong Kong to earn a credential that demonstrates their understanding of finance and can improve job prospects. While it’s not unprecedented for the CFA to adjust a test, it underscores the degree to which life in Hong Kong is being disrupted by months of pro-democracy protests, initially sparked by a controversial extradition bill.

The CFA’s goal is “to ensure safe and timely travel to the center for candidates and testing personnel,” Pollard said.

The new date is a Tuesday rather than a Saturday. Until this week, Hong Kong generally saw the largest demonstrations on weekends. But violence has intensified since a student died Nov. 8 of injuries sustained near a protest. On workdays this week, tear gas has swirled through the Central financial district and transportation disruptions have paralyzed parts of the city.

The institute notified candidates of the special arrangements on Nov. 4, giving people a week to respond. It said it isn’t able to provide a breakdown of their choices.

Normally, the exam is administered on the same date worldwide. Officials take steps to ensure that the exam’s contents are kept secure and that there is no advantage to testing in one location versus another, Pollard said. The institute said it won’t elaborate on what precautions it takes.

More than 150,000 candidates took the Level I exam globally in June and December of last year. Unlike the Level II and Level III exams, which are held only in June in more than 170 cities, the first stage is also administered in December in more than 70 cities. The test has been gaining popularity in Asia.

The credential can have particular cache in a financial hub such as Hong Kong. The industry contributed 18% of the city’s gross domestic product and provided 7% of the local jobs in 2016, according to official statistics released in April 2018.

(Updates with response regarding security precautions in seventh paragraph.)

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