A renewed drive to encourage industry participants to take the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) is paying off in Hong Kong. Alternative investment educators CAIA had a record 146 entrants for its stage-one exam held in the territory last month.

The two-stage alternative investment-themed qualification costs about $3,500 to undertake. Pass rates are around 70% for stage one and 55% for stage two. Currently in Hong Kong there are 250 individuals who have passed both exams.

Joanne Murphy, Hong Kong's alternative investment Queen Bee, was recently appointed Hong Kong and China senior adviser to CAIA, and she is promoting the qualification by speaking at local financial institutions and trying to get people to enrol.

Right now, all the course work and exams are in English, but CAIA is thinking about establishing a preparatory course in Mandarin, to encourage local finance industry staff to participate.

Murphy, who is also marketing director at Hong Kong-based hedge fund seeding firm Triple A Partners, has a CAIA counterpart in Singapore – Sebastien Lacroix – and in South Korea, Sam Chung.

The organisation was founded in 2002 by Tom Schneewies and Florence Lombard – who at that time worked for the Alternative Investment Management Association (Aima) – in a drive to improve the education of people in the industry. Lombard left Aima in 2010 and joined CAIA as chief executive later that year.

However, it is not just young, keen entrants to the industry who are embarking on this path of learning. Veterans, including Murphy herself, are going 'back to school' to take the exams.

“A lot of older people in the industry say ‘oh, go on I’ll have a go then', and actually find they learn a lot of new things," says Lombard. “So, do read the books, even if you’re not up for taking the exam, because the course books contain a lot of cutting-edge stuff. However if you read the books, then you might just as well take the exam too. Why not?”

Those who are too grand to take examinations cannot expect the grant of an honorary CAIA qualification. No honorary diplomas are distributed.