|Author||Topic: CFA - the challenge - and what's next|
|Having earned the CFA after four years of study (I failed LII once) in 2001 (terrible year -- I received my charter 3 days after 9/11 and a week after my brother passed away after a tragic accident), I hope to share a little advice and perspective to CFA candidates.
I took the CFA immediately after college for the challenge. I graduated from Babson with a double major in finance and investments. I wanted to see if I had the brains to match everyone else in the world of finance. The CFA is not an automatic pass to a successful career. A mix of experience, intelligence, politics, luck, background (education, etc) and performance is what counts. A CFA is a big plus. It proves you've got some intelligence, if nothing else. It doesn't really test your IQ or prove how great your career is. It's a test of preparation. Even if you were a big-time ibanker or portfolio manager, if you don't study for it, chances are you won't pass. There are a few cases where someone might pass without studying too much, but such is rare.When I was preparing for the exams (level 1-3) I always hoped for a difficult exam because I felt answering the difficult questions would separate myself from the rest of the candidates. I'm not sure if everyone realizes this, but everyone is going to get the easy questions. Not everyone is going to be able to answer the tough questions. So even if you, hypothetically, got 70% of the questions but 60% of the candidates sitting got 71% of the questions, you would most likely fail the exam.
My advice is to study the topics/questions you feel are difficult and won't be asked. When I first took level 2, they had a question on PSA/CRP, which I looked over once or twice and decided it wasn't worth spending too much time. I was wrong -- there was a huge section on it which I paid for. I took this approach in the next two exams I took. In the exams they did asked questions you would have thought they wouldn't and where you just had to memorize the entire painful formula.I spent this year's Memorial Day week vacationing in Myrtle Beach, SC. I'm happy to move on. I plan on entering a MBA program next fall. I sometimes miss the challenge of taking the exam. Call me crazy, but sometimes I wish I could take it again. I always got the adrenalin rush at the end. CFA is great because it proves you know something and it looks great in the business card. It's a must in the asset management industry, not so with ibanking (from what I have heard). I don't think an MBA is as challenging in terms of pressure and maybe hardcore finance study, but it does offer networking and other advantages. I guess the MBA is the next challenge for me.I hope AIMR continues to make the CFA exams difficult, if not more. If it didn't it would make the CFA, my years of studying, and paying AIMR dues worthless. You should want a more difficult exam because if you study hard, you can distinguish yourself from everyone else. It would also suggest the more investment you put in, the more you would gain in return.
By the way, this is an excellent site for your CFA prepraration! I wish it existed when I was studying for CFA!
|Tell me what you are doing now? you said the CFA wasn't helpfull finding a job, so what is your job now ? and how do you manage get it?|
|I do financial anaylsis for fixed income products. I didn't say it wasn't helpful. The CFA charter is one that carries great distinction and would certainly help land you a job in the asset management industry. how to get a job -- look for one and interview for it.|
|I agree with you when you said CFA by itself will not land you in a job (which is a common misconception). A lot of people come to me to take advise on doing CFA a landing in job in the industry immediately. Its a rigorous exam which is respected in the finance industry. Still your background will matter a lot for getting into a good job (pedigree, past experience etc). CFA will be a value addition and also will provide a good community of people to interact with.|