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CAG CFAs?


#1 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 08 February 2015 - 09:41 PM

Wondering if any CAGs have or are pursuing the CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst] designation? I'm currently studying for the Level II, and it's crushing my soul. Infinitely more challenging than the Level I.

 

While none of the material is really particularly difficult, the amount of information that needs to be retained is definitely daunting and starting to feel overwhelming - certainly feel like I've retained very little of topics I did in my earlier studying. Going through the official CFAI curriculum is a massive pain, too...

 

I'd definitely love to hear the insights/thoughts of anyone who has/is going through this process, as well.



#2 gnoh  

Posted 10 February 2015 - 12:29 AM

It sucks but you have to take it one step at a time. What places do you have trouble with?



#3 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 10 February 2015 - 03:12 AM

It's really the sheer amount of information/formulas getting to me. Outside of a little bit of Fixed Income, none of it's been that difficult as I'm initially going through it, per se, (yet). I still have derivatives, economics and quantitative methods to go.



#4 Flowette   Level 112 Tea Drinking Royalty CAGiversary!   2165 Posts   Joined 7.5 Years Ago  

Posted 12 March 2015 - 10:13 AM

Stick with it. That's the only advice I can give.

I took my CISI diploma around seven or eight years ago (it's a level six qualification in the UK framework, only thing harder is a CFA qualification) and it was comfortably the hardest thing I've ever done.

Like you say, it's all about memorising vast amounts of information, most of which will disappear shortly after you take your exams. In practice, so long as you know how to apply your knowledge, you're fine - I can't think of a time where I've not been able to refer back to textbooks for ratios/formulae/regulations etc.

Accept that life is limited and dull for a short time, and surround yourself with notes. I had crib sheets of information dotted around the house for months - eventually stuff just became second nature.

I'm not a great studier so the best method for me was to learn things parrot fashion - repetition repetition repetition!

Good luck. It'll be over soon and then you can hop aboard the gravy train with the rest of us.

:whee:

#5 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 21 March 2015 - 04:28 AM

I read the title of this thread and immediately had flashbacks. Thanks for getting me all keyed up right before bed. I got the designation in 2011 and don't miss the studying one bit! Soul crushing is putting it nicely...

 

The good thing is you passed Level I. Shows you're serious and that there's no turning back now. And you didn't use CFA as a noun, so you're not in violation of the Code & Standards.  :) 

 

EDIT: I take that back. The title of this thread is a violation!  :shame:

 

Happy to help any way I can. I managed to go 3/3 but it wasn't easy. Some quick tips:

 

http://www.analystforum.com - If you're not a member here you should be. You don't have to post a lot (can be a time waster), but it's a good community when you need to be miserable with other people. Can pick up some knowledge there.

 

If you have a smartphone, you should start using a flashcard app. IMO, with 6 books of stuff to remember, it's the only way you can stay reasonably fresh on the stuff you're not actively studying. I never used flashcards in high school or college but I did for this.

 

Drill all the questions you can get your hands on. Prioritize questions published by CFAI itself; drill questions from the study note providers as a secondary priority. On that note, are you using any outside study materials? Schweser, Stalla, other?

 

Get rid of all your friends and family and love interests. Put down the video game controller. Start sacrificing small barnyard animals to the CFA gods. Get this shit done and don't drag it out.  ;)



#6 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 21 March 2015 - 05:09 PM

Stick with it. That's the only advice I can give.

I took my CISI diploma around seven or eight years ago (it's a level six qualification in the UK framework, only thing harder is a CFA qualification) and it was comfortably the hardest thing I've ever done.

Like you say, it's all about memorising vast amounts of information, most of which will disappear shortly after you take your exams. In practice, so long as you know how to apply your knowledge, you're fine - I can't think of a time where I've not been able to refer back to textbooks for ratios/formulae/regulations etc.

Accept that life is limited and dull for a short time, and surround yourself with notes. I had crib sheets of information dotted around the house for months - eventually stuff just became second nature.

I'm not a great studier so the best method for me was to learn things parrot fashion - repetition repetition repetition!

Good luck. It'll be over soon and then you can hop aboard the gravy train with the rest of us.

:whee:

Thanks for the kind words, Flowette. I'm pushing myself really hard with the expectation that this should open up better opportunities for me in the future. It's very difficult to be motivated to study, as well as study effectively, after work. With that being said, I'm happy with the effort that I've put in. Even if things don't go my way this time around, it won't be for lack of trying.

 

 

I read the title of this thread and immediately had flashbacks. Thanks for getting me all keyed up right before bed. I got the designation in 2011 and don't miss the studying one bit! Soul crushing is putting it nicely...

 

The good thing is you passed Level I. Shows you're serious and that there's no turning back now. And you didn't use CFA as a noun, so you're not in violation of the Code & Standards.  :)

 

EDIT: I take that back. The title of this thread is a violation!  :shame:

 

Happy to help any way I can. I managed to go 3/3 but it wasn't easy. Some quick tips:

 

http://www.analystforum.com - If you're not a member here you should be. You don't have to post a lot (can be a time waster), but it's a good community when you need to be miserable with other people. Can pick up some knowledge there.

 

If you have a smartphone, you should start using a flashcard app. IMO, with 6 books of stuff to remember, it's the only way you can stay reasonably fresh on the stuff you're not actively studying. I never used flashcards in high school or college but I did for this.

 

Drill all the questions you can get your hands on. Prioritize questions published by CFAI itself; drill questions from the study note providers as a secondary priority. On that note, are you using any outside study materials? Schweser, Stalla, other?

 

Get rid of all your friends and family and love interests. Put down the video game controller. Start sacrificing small barnyard animals to the CFA gods. Get this shit done and don't drag it out.  ;)

Congratulations on getting the charter, Lt. Dan - 3/3 is impressive! Ah I forgot that nuance - Ethics is the only portion I haven't finished reading from the books, yet. Should've made the thread CFA CAGs, I guess o_O. I've lurked on analyst forum for a while, never made an account. I basically have given up everything during the week (no videogames, almost no tv - will allow myself the day with an occasional episode), but I am relaxing a bit on my weekends so I don't lose all semblance of sanity.

 

I'm not using any outside prep materials currently, although I do have access to Kaplan's 2014 Mock Exams which I will eventually be using (which is all I plan to use). I plan on prioritizing the EOCs. I actually tend to do reasonably well with the EOCs when the topic is still fresh in my mind - the key is to keep drilling until everything eventually feels relatively fresh.

 

My biggest gripe is when the EOCs are much easier than the material presented in the chapter/blue box examples. Not to mention the vague LOS where often times calculations aren't emphasized but then there are 20+ formulas in the reading, including derivations. The biggest violators here are Fixed Income and Derivatives, in my opinion. The EOCs weren't too bad but the readings were atrocious and incredibly dense. If the actual exam is like the EOCs and the "easier" blue box examples, I like my chances. If not...



#7 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 21 March 2015 - 05:30 PM

Title could be "CAG CFA Charterholders?" Teasing about the violation. ;)

 

Right before I started taking the exams, my work stopped paying for program (financial crisis being what it was). For that reason I considered using the CFAI curriculum, but ultimately got the Schweser study materials as I found the curriculum to be too verbose. I would read the Schweser notes and then drill the CFAI EOC questions. I found the Schweser study videos to be a really valuable tool because I could follow along over meals (I find it hard to study books and eat at the same time). Personal preference thing.

 

You mentioned the blue box examples and extra material in the readings. I'd definitely adhere to the LOSes. The LOSes represent what you need to know come test time. If it's not in the LOSes, the odds of it being on the exam are nil. Likewise, I found that if something is not covered by the EOC questions, it's unlikely to be emphasized during the exams. If you can score in the mid-80% or better in the EOCs, I'd say you're in decent shape.

 

All that said, if an LOS is sufficiently vague and you think something might be included, it very well might be. I took the approach that CFAI was out to get me, and I still believe that to this day. ;)

 

Does CFAI still offer sample exams for a fee? If so, I'd highly recommend purchasing them and taking them under test-like conditions in the month leading up to the exam.

 

Also: time management. Prioritizing content you think is more likely to be heavily-tested. Try to learn it all, but if time becomes an issue, know that you can't get 100% and you should prioritize areas where you can pick up the most points.

 

Sorry if all this is too much info, but I know what you're going through and can just really relate! I'd like to know how you make out.



#8 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 06 May 2015 - 12:18 PM

Title could be "CAG CFA Charterholders?" Teasing about the violation. ;)

 

Right before I started taking the exams, my work stopped paying for program (financial crisis being what it was). For that reason I considered using the CFAI curriculum, but ultimately got the Schweser study materials as I found the curriculum to be too verbose. I would read the Schweser notes and then drill the CFAI EOC questions. I found the Schweser study videos to be a really valuable tool because I could follow along over meals (I find it hard to study books and eat at the same time). Personal preference thing.

 

You mentioned the blue box examples and extra material in the readings. I'd definitely adhere to the LOSes. The LOSes represent what you need to know come test time. If it's not in the LOSes, the odds of it being on the exam are nil. Likewise, I found that if something is not covered by the EOC questions, it's unlikely to be emphasized during the exams. If you can score in the mid-80% or better in the EOCs, I'd say you're in decent shape.

 

All that said, if an LOS is sufficiently vague and you think something might be included, it very well might be. I took the approach that CFAI was out to get me, and I still believe that to this day. ;)

 

Does CFAI still offer sample exams for a fee? If so, I'd highly recommend purchasing them and taking them under test-like conditions in the month leading up to the exam.

 

Also: time management. Prioritizing content you think is more likely to be heavily-tested. Try to learn it all, but if time becomes an issue, know that you can't get 100% and you should prioritize areas where you can pick up the most points.

 

Sorry if all this is too much info, but I know what you're going through and can just really relate! I'd like to know how you make out.

Apologies for the late response - I think I was typing a response way back when, slipped my mind, and totally forgot about it (as well as forgetting just about everything else). I've been living under a rock recently and freaking the heck out constantly. At work, all I can think about is getting out so I can study. Once I actually do get out of work, all I want to do is sleep =/ (but still pushing myself onward). I also started doing the one thing I promised myself I wouldn't do...trying to re-read through the curriculum (Edit: I've only used the CFAI curriculum the whole time).

 

Given up that fool's errand now - for the last month, I've decided it's all about just doing questions - EOCs, blue boxes, and mocks til the end. Not sure how much of it is subconscious retention versus actual learning, but I'm getting questions right on EOCs that I got wrong before without thinking too much about it.

 

CFAI offers one free mock which I am currently going through now, as well as several "practice assessments". I wound up biting the bullet and bought 3 Kaplan mocks, while a co-worker bought the other 3, and we have all six of those between us. The one thing that shocked me is that these were a lot less computationally intensive than I expected. So far, through 2.5 Kaplan mocks, I've been scoring roughly in the mid 60s. at this point. Fortunately, I haven't see a question that's looked totally alien and everything tested has been fair, it's just remembering all this stuff is a nightmare (and I have a terrible memory).

 

 CFAI also offers online practice assessments, which I believe are a relatively new tool. From my understanding, the difficulty of these questions is harder than what's on the actual exam for the quantitative questions, on par for the conceptual questions.

 

Appreciate the advice about prioritizing, and I definitely agree with that. Come hell or high water, the last few days, for review I'll be almost exclusively focusing on Equities, FRA, and Fixed Income. Fortunately, I think I've gotten a solid base on equities (only topic I feel that I should definitely get >70 on). Fortunately for me, I saved vacation time from last year/haven't used any days this year, so I was able to get 2 weeks off before the exam.

 

I think when all is said and done, I'm gonna have about 500 hours pumped into this thing by test day. Dear God, I hope I pass...



#9 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 16 June 2015 - 06:17 PM

Hey how did it go? How do you feel about how you might have done? Assuming no results yet!



#10 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 18 June 2015 - 01:45 AM

Hey Lieutenant Dan:

 

Really not sure - I think I'm going to be right on the border either way. Feel like it'll be really close on either side. Praying for the best but prepared for the worst. I'll be pretty depressed if I get a Band 10. You're right - likely not getting scores back until the very end of July.

 

Oddly, I think I did relatively well on FRA which was the topic I struggled the most with, but I think I did poorly on Equities which was usually my strongest topic. I know I missed a few easy questions here and there due to poor retention (I hate you, Michael Porter)/a bit of "carelessness".

 

I feel some weird sort of pressure, though, as everyone at my last job/current job expects me to pass. I don't think I'll get any grief for not passing, but  I'd hate to have people think less of me (I usually get tagged as being a "smart" guy, even though I'm often lacking in confidence). I'm far more pessimistic than everyone else seems to be about my odds.

 

However, I really couldn't have done much more effort-wise and feel that I should be fine if I have to take it again.



#11 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 18 June 2015 - 09:56 PM

Hey Lieutenant Dan:

 

Really not sure - I think I'm going to be right on the border either way. Feel like it'll be really close on either side. Praying for the best but prepared for the worst. I'll be pretty depressed if I get a Band 10. You're right - likely not getting scores back until the very end of July.

 

Oddly, I think I did relatively well on FRA which was the topic I struggled the most with, but I think I did poorly on Equities which was usually my strongest topic. I know I missed a few easy questions here and there due to poor retention (I hate you, Michael Porter)/a bit of "carelessness".

 

I feel some weird sort of pressure, though, as everyone at my last job/current job expects me to pass. I don't think I'll get any grief for not passing, but  I'd hate to have people think less of me (I usually get tagged as being a "smart" guy, even though I'm often lacking in confidence). I'm far more pessimistic than everyone else seems to be about my odds.

 

However, I really couldn't have done much more effort-wise and feel that I should be fine if I have to take it again.

Well if you feel like you're in the mix that's a good thing. Decompressing a bit now I hope!

 

Funny you mention the bit about pressure. Could relate to almost all of what you're saying when I was there. I'd imagine that most people feel the way you do to some degree (for me, it was a big factor). It is a high-pressure thing.

 

For me the pressure was sometimes a motivator, other times was draining. Try to take comfort in what you said about your effort. At the end of the day, that's all you can control!

 

Michael Porter... Harvard grad?



#12 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 20 June 2015 - 11:30 PM

Yeah, the Harvard grad. Not sure if you had a reading on Porter's 5 forces when you took the exam, but that was an applicable reading this year. Something I had actually seen a little bit of in a Marketing class during undergrad. And something I've always detested due to the pure rote memorization nature of the topic. I'll let you fill in the blank as to why I dislike him -_-.

 

Yeah - definitely decompressing a bit! I was telling myself I might try to study before results come out expecting the worst, but I just can't motivate myself to do that. I put so much into it, might as well just wait til it's official at this point and take a break - I feel I've earned it. Also, regardless of outcome, I may switch over to prepping for the GMAT as I hope to go to B-School relatively soon. Also have a really bright friend who will be taking the CFA Level I next year. In the event I have to take Level II again, it'd be nice to have a "study buddy" that i can relate to.

 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, as I actually officially found out the other day, I have an SAT score that's about 300 points higher than 3 of the people I work with, including my boss. And I work at a company where most people fail the Level I on their first attempt (and then usually give up).

 

I've been job hunting for a while now, and it's been pretty brutal. The two most recent companies that I had phone interviews with tend to hire a lot of Harvard and Penn grads - I have no shot at competing with that =/ . One of the recruiters even told me I had killed the interview and he'd strongly recommend me to the hiring manager but flat out told me I likely wouldn't be competitive without an MBA from a top 10-15 program.



#13 Casinochips559  

Casinochips559

Posted 26 June 2015 - 06:08 PM

Its funny that for being education it still costs a lot to study



#14 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 26 June 2015 - 07:27 PM

@darkcecil - Ah, I thought you were the Harvard grad but I get it now!

 

@casinochips - Tell me about it. The CFA program is good bang for your education $, but even that is $6 - $10k or so last time I checked. I'm looking at grad schools myself and the tuition is prohibitively expensive IMO. Can be hard to justify, depending upon one's career goals.



#15 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 27 June 2015 - 04:39 AM

Its funny that for being education it still costs a lot to study

@Casinochips559: Yeah it's really something. My current employer would reimburse me if I pass and work for at least another six months...but I'm looking to get out and am very close to turning in my resignation pretty soon. I think I've spent about $2500 so far for Levels I and II, with very minimal 3rd party material. Really hoping I won't have to pay for Level II again at this point  :pray:.

 

@darkcecil - Ah, I thought you were the Harvard grad but I get it now!

 

@casinochips - Tell me about it. The CFA program is good bang for your education $, but even that is $6 - $10k or so last time I checked. I'm looking at grad schools myself and the tuition is prohibitively expensive IMO. Can be hard to justify, depending upon one's career goals.

@ Lieutenant Dan: Haha I wish. I actually do have some very good friends that are at elite institutions (including one at Harvard Business School; another doing a Phd in Mechanical Engineering at Princeton) right now from high school - but I definitely wouldn't ever be able to get in to those very top tier programs. Although if I get the GMAT score that I want, I might be able give myself a fighting chance at a program in the 6-10 range, and I should definitely be competitive for the programs ranked 11-15.

 

I should also get a great letter of recommendation from my previous boss. He graduated in the top five of his high school graduating class and ultimately got accepted to (but not attending) Johns Hopkins for undergrad - and he told me several times that I was smarter than he was and that I was destined for great things. I think part of what makes me me is that I never really believe I'm all that smart, regardless of what other people always tell me (I've always had very low self-confidence), but I'm definitely someone that outworks people.

 

I agree with you on the cost of tuition - it's crazy. I'd been hoping the past few years that I could get a job at a Fortune 200 type company that would pay for grad school after working their x number of years. I'm getting pretty close to 30 now, and I've heard the degree becomes far less useful as you get older, so I may just have to bite the bullet and hope for the best.



#16 Casinochips559  

Casinochips559

Posted 28 June 2015 - 06:30 AM

@Casinochips559: Yeah it's really something. My current employer would reimburse me if I pass and work for at least another six months...but I'm looking to get out and am very close to turning in my resignation pretty soon. I think I've spent about $2500 so far for Levels I and II, with very minimal 3rd party material. Really hoping I won't have to pay for Level II again at this point  :pray:.

 

@ Lieutenant Dan: Haha I wish. I actually do have some very good friends that are at elite institutions (including one at Harvard Business School; another doing a Phd in Mechanical Engineering at Princeton) right now from high school - but I definitely wouldn't ever be able to get in to those very top tier programs. Although if I get the GMAT score that I want, I might be able give myself a fighting chance at a program in the 6-10 range, and I should definitely be competitive for the programs ranked 11-15.

 

I should also get a great letter of recommendation from my previous boss. He graduated in the top five of his high school graduating class and ultimately got accepted to (but not attending) Johns Hopkins for undergrad - and he told me several times that I was smarter than he was and that I was destined for great things. I think part of what makes me me is that I never really believe I'm all that smart, regardless of what other people always tell me (I've always had very low self-confidence), but I'm definitely someone that outworks people.

 

I agree with you on the cost of tuition - it's crazy. I'd been hoping the past few years that I could get a job at a Fortune 200 type company that would pay for grad school after working their x number of years. I'm getting pretty close to 30 now, and I've heard the degree becomes far less useful as you get older, so I may just have to bite the bullet and hope for the best.

Yea even the vocational education here is really pricey, I can't seem to find anything without paying at least $500 by the beginning of it.



#17 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 28 September 2015 - 12:52 AM

How'd ya do on the exam, Cecil?



#18 darkcecil32   CAGiversary! CAGiversary!   702 Posts   Joined 12.0 Years Ago  

darkcecil32

Posted 17 March 2016 - 03:57 AM

Hey Lt. Dan, I came up just a bit short - Band 9. Not to make too many excuses, but literally not getting any sleep (loud hotel - wedding/bachelor party happening on my floor) the night before was probably the difference between pass/fail for me. I blanked out on some basic facts/formulas that I should've had down cold a handful of times. I also really struggled with time; On most practice tests, I typically paced myself/quite often finished in 2 hours (versus taking the whole 3). 

 

One major surprise I had was doing poorly on the accounting section. I'm usually acutely aware when I really screw something up but was really quite shocked when I saw how poorly I did here. It was the area I studied the most, and I felt that I had done really well on 3/4 item sets when walking out of the test center.

 

I decided to give myself a breather this year and am aiming "just" to take the GMAT. I'll take my second crack at the CFA L2 in 2017.

 

I actually haven't been logged into CAG for months until tonight (just lurked for a deal or two). I was really down after not passing. My father also became very sick shortly after test results came out, and I quit my previous job without having another one lined up. So needless to say it was a bit of tumultuous time for me. Just wanted to say thanks again for the support!



#19 Lieutenant Dan   Ice Cream! CAGiversary!   1374 Posts   Joined 13.1 Years Ago  

Lieutenant Dan

Posted 23 March 2016 - 04:29 PM

Hey man—no worries. I can relate to the work/life stress and t's rare that I visit CAG anymore too. Weird coincidence that I lost my dad early last year and left my job similar to you. Put that CFA on the back burner and give it another go if/when the time is right.

 

Hang in there and I'll do the same!