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GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread

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Current Student
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  30 Apr 2008, 19:29
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kidderek wrote:
Seriously. Who knew we had a CFA mentor on board here?

Haha. I feel like this is one of the few things that I can help with around here. So many superstars, I'm just trying hang around and pick up some gmatclub's good vibes.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  01 May 2008, 05:08
rguy - thanks a lot for your pointers ... appreciate it.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  01 May 2008, 07:39
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I'm a CFA charterholder as well.

For study tips, remember that the CFA exams are tests of perseverance, not intelligence. So it pays to start anywhere from 4-7 months before your test date. Some people prefer to study in groups, while others prefer to go at their own pace. Regardless of your approach, it is helpful if you can finish reviewing the material roughly 2-4 weeks before your exam date, thus giving you time to take as many practice tests (hopefully at least 3) as possible. I would get together with one of my buddies and take the exam on Saturday, and then spend all Sunday reviewing it. It really helps to talk out your answers to someone else, or, to hear someone else explain the question and answer.

As for taking Level I during your MBA, there certainly are some pros and cons. On the plus side, a lot of the material will be similar to the core curriculum, so you'll have some overlap. And it's a great way to show employers that you're serious about entering the business. However, studying for the CFA is very time-consuming, and you're only in school for a short time--wouldn't you rather spend that time either on activities at the school or hanging out with classmates or doing part-time internship? If you're really academically inclined, you could even do a finance related independent study. I don't think there's a right answer--but think long and hard about it.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  01 May 2008, 10:44
Thanks everyone for the advice! That's a great point about doing it post-MBA. I just don't want to spoil my recruiting opportunities if I'm "behind the curve" on the CFA so to speak.

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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  25 May 2008, 03:07

what are your thoughts on following

1 currently i am in my freshman year. if i opted for taking level 1 during final year of the undergraduate program (as it is allowed by the CFA) and the next two years i devote myself for the level 2 and 3 and do full time job as well (say in investment management) .will this route will be suitable ? my thought on this are i will be in better postion to apply for the graduate buisness school after getting some expereince.

2 will it better for me to apply for the GBS for mba without having any exams cleared (i will surely be doing job in any firm to fulfill my experience requirement after my undergraduate program before i apply to graduate buisness school so i thought why shouldn't i complete my CFA before i apply for the GBS)
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  25 May 2008, 04:18
One requirement of the CFA is that you must have atleast 4 years of relevant work experience (ie almost anything finance related). Just something everyone should know. So even if someone has done the CFA exams in 2 1/2 years (the minimum since, LII and LIII are held only in June) he will still need another 1 1/2 year of relevant experience.

Howard, when you start working, see the situation at your job. Perhaps they require you to travel alot and you don't get to study for the CFA, guess tyhat can't be helped. (just an example) But if you do get the opportunity to study for the CFA, take it! It will boost your CV alot, improve your chances of getting into a bschool and perhaps landing some job afterwards.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  27 May 2008, 12:14
i usually start 10 months till deadline and leave the last two for practice test taking and fine tuning. stats is a beast but CAIA Level I covered it well.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  27 May 2008, 13:09
howardforever wrote:

what are your thoughts on following

1 currently i am in my freshman year. if i opted for taking level 1 during final year of the undergraduate program (as it is allowed by the CFA) and the next two years i devote myself for the level 2 and 3 and do full time job as well (say in investment management) .will this route will be suitable ? my thought on this are i will be in better postion to apply for the graduate buisness school after getting some expereince.

2 will it better for me to apply for the GBS for mba without having any exams cleared (i will surely be doing job in any firm to fulfill my experience requirement after my undergraduate program before i apply to graduate buisness school so i thought why shouldn't i complete my CFA before i apply for the GBS)

1) The earliest you should take Level I is senior year of college - PERIOD. Let's say you can clear Level III by the time you graduate, well - you're going to have to wait FOUR years before you will ever be able to call yourself a CFA Charterholder. Additionally, the CFA is not just about passing tests (although some people would like to think so). It's about distinguishing yourself in the investment management community based on education and work experience. The CFA Institute extended the work experience requirements in the last year from three years to four years. They believe that work experience is just as important as the education. Firms that hire people (including new grads) are also interested in experience. Despite how passionate I am about the CFA designation, as a general rule, I firmly believe that a company will take somebody with 5 years experience any day over a Level II Candidate (or Level III Candidate) with 0-2 years of work experience.

2) Additionally, many things may happen over the course of the next few years. a) You may decide that you want nothing to do with investment management. b) Even if you are interested in IM, you may not be able to get a job that qualifies as the appropriate work experience. And then what, you wait even longer...

3) The CFA designation is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY specific. It is for investment management (and peripheral) related job functions. Again, you want to make sure that this is the route you want to go. You may meet a cute girl in your biology class and end up going pre-med. Much crazier things have happened.

4) Based on my experience of having just applied to b-school (and also the second hand experience of my friend who is a Level III Candidate, taking the exam in 2 weeks, and also just got in at Duke), once you get past Level II, there is probably not much differentiation of candidates for business school at all. As a CFA Charterholder it pains me to say this, but in general, I don't think b-schools really get what the CFA is all about. I can go into this point later on for those that are interested.

As an additional note, a previous poster made a comment about getting the work experience doing anything in finance. WRONG! The CFA Institute is extremely particular on what counts and in recent years has become meticulous on looking at work experience and what qualifies.

I don't want to deter you from your goals. I think that it is phenomenal that you are looking so far out in the future. My advice is for right now to simply focus on your grades while in school. A GPA >3.5 will be helpful in getting into a top school. Take the CFA Level I in your senior year (at the earliest!). Get your work experience. Some firms will even pay for your materials/exams. After all, you are going to need to have ~3+ years of work experience to get into a top b-school anyway.

Cheers,
RG
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  27 May 2008, 14:28
I passed CFA Level 1 in December 2007. I had planned to take Level 2 this June, but decided to put it off one year to focus on my MBA applications. While I can't provide any new advice that hasn't already mentioned, I can add another recommendation for Schweser's materials. Best of luck!
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 07:42
MeddlingKid wrote:
I passed CFA Level 1 in December 2007. I had planned to take Level 2 this June, but decided to put it off one year to focus on my MBA applications. While I can't provide any new advice that hasn't already mentioned, I can add another recommendation for Schweser's materials. Best of luck!

Any tips and/or a sample study schedule?

1. I'm thinking MP3 during commute to work. The guy on the mp3's speaks in monotone and it's easy to lose focus.
2. After work, video session followed by readings of Stalla, then skimming of CFAI text. I hear Stalla is better for non-fin backgrounds.
3. Bulk of my work will be done on the weekends. I'm hoping to finish the readings quickly so that I can work on tests asap. I truly think you can only learn so much by reading. Gotta test and review to really learn.

Ryguy, naturallight, meddlingkid:
what do you guys think of my sample schedule?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 09:02
I am a level 3 candidate this year, and I think it's generally difficult to pass these exams by studying only on weekends. The problem with the curriculum is not the difficulty of the material, which is only moderate for most topics, but rather having to master such an enormous amount of material and reproduce it on exam day. As you go through chapter after chapter of reading, you can only retain so much -- you will lose a portion of what you studied a month ago, and even more of what you studied two months ago.

The strategy that I have found effective is to read through everything fairly quickly (~1.5 months through the entire curriculum) and do practice questions along the way. Then go through a second, more detailed pass and hammer on any weaknesses. All the while, you should periodically (say, weekly), review the sections you have covered so that you can drill the material into your brain. Leave about a month of exams and final review, and you should pass. I HIGHLY recommend taking the week off prior to the exam and basically beating your head against the books as much as you can take it to squeeze in any last details on the exams. While the material is not that hard, the exams are tough as nails, as they really make sure that you know the details. You can't "sort of know" a topic to get the question right -- they use double multiple choice questions (two columns), tricky wording, double negatives, etc. to make sure that you really know your stuff

I would skip the audio tapes -- they are like listening to nails on a chalkboard... so incredibly boring. I highly recommend the Schweser notes as well as Schweser's qbank. They may seem expensive at first, but they are essential and will help you cut costs by not having to take the exams again during the next year

Good luck!

edit: I would say that four months will be enough with no background for any of the exams. If you have a strong background, you can do it in less time. I know it's hard to imagine studying for anything for four months, but keep in mind that each exams tests roughly five text books worth of material (thousands of pages) and you have to know it inside out. It takes a lot of time. I did the second exam in about 2.5 months, with only about one year of work ex, passed level one, and no prior finance background, and I felt like I was going to die I studied so hard--don't do that to yourself.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 09:14
kidderek wrote:

Any tips and/or a sample study schedule?

1. I'm thinking MP3 during commute to work. The guy on the mp3's speak in monotone and it's easy to lose focus.
2. After work, video session followed by readings of Stalla, then skimming of CFAI text. I hear Stalla is better for non-fin backgrounds.
3. Bulk of my work will be done on the weekends. I'm hoping to finish the readings quickly so that I can work on tests asap. I truly think you can only learn so much by reading. Gotta test and review to really learn.

Ryguy, naturallight, meddlingkid:
what do you guys think of my sample schedule?

Overall looks good to me. I'd make sure that if you plan to skim the CFAI text, that you thoroughly read Stalla, especially since you don't have a typical finance background. I've heard pretty good things about Stalla, especially for Level I.

As far as the mp3's go, I think they will work better in some sections (ethics, econ) than others (quant). As long as you keep a constant workout type of routine with studying, you will be OK. As NL said, it's hard to cram on the weekends only. But, if you can get in 1-2 hours each day during the week and 3-5 hours each weekend day, you'll be OK.

As far as reviewing, I would plan to be done around November 1 at the soonest. That will leave you with 5 weeks of "reviewing." If you start reviewing any earlier, several things will happen. 1) You will get bored 2) You will feel like you know nothing while simultaneously feel like you've covered the material before. This last point is what I call getting comfortable. You always want to have some fear in you. Level I torches ~60% of the people that take it. If you feel comfortable, your review will be less thorough than it needs to be. Subtleties in answer responses (in particular Ethics) are important to understand. Going through and missing a problem and saying "oh yeah, I understand that, I'll get that right on the test" ---just ain't going to happen.

You're on the right track KD. Keep up the focus and you'll be fine.
Current Student
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 09:16
sudden wrote:
I am a level 3 candidate this year

Good luck on the 7th! I'm pulling for you.

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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 12:32
Man, the CFA is an absolute beast. I am taking L2 in about a week (6/7) and I'm dying! The last couple weeks before the exams is when you feel like climbing to the top of a nice tall building... and leaping. As much as everybody will tell you that studying for the CFA exams is tough, you won't really understand until you've gone through it. Everytime somebody told me how tough it would be I sort of nodded by head in agreement, but I really had no idea. The plus is, that by the time you realize how tough it is you've invested to much time and energy to get out! I'm just a week from L2 so I'm gonna slog it out. And if I pass that mother there's no way I can skip L3 because I'll just be one exam away from the charter!

P.S. Level I is actually not too bad, especially if you have some finance in your background. Level II is another animal entirely. I can't speak to Level III but I don't expect it to be pleasant.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 13:28
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
I am taking L2 in about a week (6/7) and I'm dying!

I'm pulling for you too!!!

I see you are from LA - you going to take it in Pomona? That place is the worst! It's going to be 90-degrees outside and 45 in that airplane hanger building. Don't forget a jacket. I thought it was a fluke when I went there for Level I and was freezing my arse off. No joke-but when I sat for L II, my exam booklet pages were literally turning on their own without my calculator to hold them down.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 13:40
ryguy904 wrote:
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
I am taking L2 in about a week (6/7) and I'm dying!

I'm pulling for you too!!!

I see you are from LA - you going to take it in Pomona? That place is the worst! It's going to be 90-degrees outside and 45 in that airplane hanger building. Don't forget a jacket. I thought it was a fluke when I went there for Level I and was freezing my arse off. No joke-but when I sat for L II, my exam booklet pages were literally turning on their own without my calculator to hold them down.

Yeah I'm in Pomona. I'm staying at that hotel because its a 2 minute walk to the exam room. I did it last year and it was pretty nice. I didn't like the idea of driving all the way from the westside, hunting for parking and still trying to get there by 8am (or is it 830?). I'm not a morning person so that extra 45 minutes of sleep (or at least lying around in bed restlessly) is well worth it.

Thanks for the advice on the temp in the building. I really can't remember from last year, I think I drank so much the night after that test that my blackout crept backwards all the way into the exam itself! I can hardly remember anything about it for some reason! I do remember its a massive hanger though. I also remember that the L1 side of the room was bigger than the L2 and L3 side of the room combined!
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  28 May 2008, 13:51
kidderek wrote:
MeddlingKid wrote:
I passed CFA Level 1 in December 2007. I had planned to take Level 2 this June, but decided to put it off one year to focus on my MBA applications. While I can't provide any new advice that hasn't already mentioned, I can add another recommendation for Schweser's materials. Best of luck!

Any tips and/or a sample study schedule?

1. I'm thinking MP3 during commute to work. The guy on the mp3's speaks in monotone and it's easy to lose focus.
2. After work, video session followed by readings of Stalla, then skimming of CFAI text. I hear Stalla is better for non-fin backgrounds.
3. Bulk of my work will be done on the weekends. I'm hoping to finish the readings quickly so that I can work on tests asap. I truly think you can only learn so much by reading. Gotta test and review to really learn.

Ryguy, naturallight, meddlingkid:
what do you guys think of my sample schedule?

I only used the Schweser books for Level I, and didn't make use of the instructional videos. Then again, I had studied most of this material during college. For Level I, I studied about 20-25 hours per week for 4 months. Three days during the week, I would study from 6-8a, one hour at lunch, and an hour in the evening after work. I would then study about 8 hours on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. I spent two months reading the study guides, one month reviewing, and the final month taking practice tests.

I think your study schedule will be effective, provided you give yourself sufficient time to review what you've learned and take practice tests. I also encourage you, if you haven't done so already, to spend some time on ethics. I can't tell you how many people I know who saved it for the end (much like many of us did for AWA on the GMAT) only to fail it during the actual exam. I'm not sure whether there is any truth to this, but I have heard that if you're straddling the line between pass and fail, they will fail you if you performed poorly in ethics.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  29 May 2008, 05:06
MeddlingKid wrote:
I think your study schedule will be effective, provided you give yourself sufficient time to review what you've learned and take practice tests. I also encourage you, if you haven't done so already, to spend some time on ethics. I can't tell you how many people I know who saved it for the end (much like many of us did for AWA on the GMAT) only to fail it during the actual exam. I'm not sure whether there is any truth to this, but I have heard that if you're straddling the line between pass and fail, they will fail you if you performed poorly in ethics.

I read that about ethics as well, however awa is just silly. It has no bearing on your gmat.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  29 May 2008, 23:17
Passing level 2 in June - it's a nightmare! I fully agree with ryguy when he says that L2 is the difference between the boys and the men.

Reviewed the material twice already, but I'm only reading the Qbank resumes (which are about 10 times shorter even than the Schweser resumes) - for those who know what I'm talking about. Hopefully that'll be enough (I really can't be arsed reading the full thing, I fall asleep after 10 minutes).

I've been hitting between 70% and 80% at Qbank (overall average 73%), and I'll do a couple of mock exams from CFAI. Hope that's enough.

For the CFA charterholders, what is your view on the rumours stating that the quality of the CFA diploma is regressing? Any ideas?

PS: little tip for the level 2: in order to avoid last year's "disappointment" (to say the least), I would suggest reviewing Treynor-Black, you never know, it might come back again...
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]  30 May 2008, 07:27
wait until you get to the 3rd one Audio

my unsolicited tip for passing the 2nd test is this -- you dont need to set the high score, but you do need to nail the heavily weighted topics. if you can dominate equity, FSA and debt, you will most likely pass. i failed at least two of the smaller sections last year and still made it through by nailing the big stuff. ethics and debt are also relatively easy points.

i would do the CFAI mocks and schweser over qbank, which tends to be on the easier side.
Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I?   [#permalink] 30 May 2008, 07:27

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