Khaya Sithole | Our CA candidates were failed - and the damage can't be undone

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Khaya Sithole.
Khaya Sithole.
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Candidates who presented themselves in pursuit of the CA(SA) designation this month were failed by combination of self-inflicted missteps by Saica. And the harm caused will linger on for much longer than anyone can estimate, says Khaya Sithole.

In the world of professional designations, nothing attracts greater prestige than the ability to add "chartered" to one’s professional profile. The most global of the designations – the chartered financial analyst (CFA) – is famous for its attrition rates and its daunting demands on candidates who wish to pass the exam. According to the Financial Times, each of the three assessments that lead to the completion of the journey, requires over 300 hours of hardcore studying. Given the fact that it uniquely appeals to candidates who already are gainfully employed, the ability to juggle work, life and the quest for the charter probably requires certification on its own.

When candidates eventually present themselves for the exam, the intersection of various variables – candidate readiness, resource availability and pure luck - play a significant role in ultimate outcomes. Exactly 11 years ago, when 275 battle-ready candidates in Ghana sat for the CFA exams, everything seemed to be in order and they eventually completed their exams.

Regrettably, however, every single one of those candidates had to do it all over again simply because, after the exam, their scripts completely disappeared as they were being couriered to the marking centre. This bizarre turn of events led to the president of the CFA Society – John Rogers – penning a letter to the candidates offering to waive their assessment fees for the follow-up assessments. Whether any of the candidates took up the offer and eventually got chartered, remains an unknown variable.

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