According to a report on news website Moneyweb, only 34 (9%) of the 390 students who sat the FPI’s professional competency examination in February passed it.
This figure was later revised to 17%.
The rate contrasts starkly with the 2016 figure, when 290 (60.5%) of 480 students passed the PCE examination.
Passing the PCE is one of the last steps need to pass to qualify for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.
The head of the postgraduate diploma in financial planning at the university of Stellenbosch business school, Lee-Ann Steenkamp, said to Moneyweb she was concerned and dismayed about the 17% pass rate.
She said while the examination process is carried out by the FPI, she thought a collective response was needed from the universities and industry bodies.
Lelane Bezuidenhout, head of certification at FPI, said she was comfortable the pass rate was a fair reflection on the performance of the individuals who sat the exam.
“According to official feedback from our independent exam assessors and moderators, it is evident that a good number of candidates who sat this exam battled to translate their acquired knowledge to the real world financial planning scenarios that the FPI PCE tests,” she said.
The low pass rate follows South Africa’s Financial Services Board (FSB), in July, taking action to clamp down against a large number of individuals who cheated, or facilitated cheating, on FPI exams.
The fraud was uncovered by the institute and involved bribing employees to falsify their exams and/or results and issue fake certificates.