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CFA Institute hikes prices, cancels Russian exams with no refund

Changes are afoot in the world of CFA® Institute and its associated popular/unpopular exams. On one hand, the Institute has hiked prices for everyone taking its exams. On the other, it's quietly postponed exams in Russia indefinitely and won't be offering any refunds.

The price hike was quietly posted to CFA Institute's website last Friday and doesn't come into effect until the February 2023 exams (registration for which is open May 2022). Under the changes, early registrants will see the cost per-exam go from $700 to $900 and the more disorganized standard registrants will see the cost go from $1k to $1.2k.

In hiking its prices, CFA Institute is doing its bit for inflation. Early registrants' fees are up nearly 29%; standard registrants' fees are up 20%.

The increase is already causing complaints among CFA entrants in low income countries like India. "I have to bust my chops to earn and save that kind of money - I'm talking 60 hour work weeks + a family to take care of," says one, writing on Reddit. 

The higher exam fees follow a spate of extremely low CFA exam pass rates, which CFA Institute says were because of pandemic-related exam cancellations and deferrals.  "Scores for candidates whose exams had been deferred at least one time significantly impacted the overall pass rate," said senior exam developer Chris Wiese in September. Nonetheless, the presumption will be that CFA Institute is cashing-in on candidates' repeat exam sittings, plus the fact that exams can now be taken four times a year (instead of two prior to 2021).

CFA exams are big business: CFA Institute made nearly $338m from its 'credentialing programs' in 2019. However, credentialing revenues shrunk to $118m during the pandemic, and the Institute presumably needs to make up for that.

While CFA Institute is hiking exam fees, it's also cancelling its exams in Russia. A spokeswoman for the Institute said both May and August exams in Russia have been cancelled, and that Russian candidates won't be receiving a refund. This is because "no financial transactions can take place." 

Russian candidates may, however, be reactivated in the future. "We will continue to monitor the situation for future exams; for now, those candidates are considered deferred," the spokeswoman says. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • vo
    23 March 2022

    CFAi are unethical in various ways, as I have experienced personally and continue to see "in the news". This rate climb, more exams, etc, means more revenue, but it will also bring their name down. Wrong values.

  • _T
    23 March 2022

    I give the CFA exam 10 years till extinction.

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