The number of UAE candidates taking the chartered financial analyst (CFA) qualification fell 10 per cent last year.
The decline from the numbers taking the exam in 2009 comes as many brokers have gone out of business in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Globally, the number of registrations and holders was flat year on year at about 200,000. In Abu Dhabi, it fell to 2,205 last year from 2,438 in 2009.
The qualification is widely recognised as a valuable tool in educating brokers, analysts and fund managers in financial services, as well as raising standards globally.
Charter holders come from a range of specialists within financial services, including chief executives, advisers and consultants, but a large proportion is also made up of brokerage employees.
Brokerages have suffered since the financial crisis from depressed trading volumes on the country's bourses.
This has been exacerbated in recent weeks by unrest in parts of the Mena region, which has spooked many investors.
Despite the political turmoil in the region, Nitin Mehta, the CFA Institute's head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, expects the region's economic growth in the next five years to outstrip that of the rest of the world.
Mr Mehta also expects to see an increase in competition between emerging market cities, such as Mumbai and Dubai, to become global financial centres.
This will drive growth of the professional qualifications market in the UAE, he said.
The institute conducted a survey on education and trust in the Middle East, which found that 90 per cent of CFA members think GCC nationals should take some form of professional qualification.
The CFA survey was sent to 1,000 charter holders and members around the Middle East, including the GCC, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
Nearly 91 per cent of respondents said a corporate code of conduct was needed in the region, while 31 per cent said improved enforcement of existing laws and regulations were the key priority to improving market trust.
"Investors are demanding ever higher standards of fund manager and financial services," Mr Mehta said. "There's a demand for higher competence but better ethics as well."
*This story's has been modified from the original to reflect that CFA qualification is for financial analysts and not accountants.