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After CAIA, could CFA be the next challenge? is it possible given the circumstances? Seeking your wisdom.

Hi All,

First, Congrats are in order to those who are new CAIA Charterholders. For those who did not pass CAIA Level II, keep at it, you have got this and you will do it.

Second, I am seeking your wisdom of the individuals who are either CFA Charterholders or candidates here on AF and the feedback is very much appreciated.

I feel so good about passing the CAIA and now re-contemplating the idea about getting a CFA. I certainly understand that the road it a lot longer and much more difficult than CAIA. However, I see some overlap between CFA Level I and both CAIA (specially with Ethics being 15% MCQ on CFA Level I, Derivatives & Alts are combined about 12% and some overlap in Quants and other topics) as well as my background knowledge in other topics. Besides, I have always wanted to have these beautiful 3 letters after my name.

The challenges: I am in my mid 40s with 4 kids all under the age of 6. I am the main breadwinner of the family. Time is becoming a very expensive commodity specially with sacrificing time spent with the kids while they are growing up, which I will never get back. I know I should have done this when I was in my 20s but it was circumstantially very difficult and part of it lack of confidence on my part.

If I start studying Dec. 1st, for the June 2019 Level I exam, and assuming no setbacks or failed attempts (which is very likely) I am looking at a June 2021 to be done! I know the Charter is worth the time.

I feel that I am just rambling, but I need an advice.

Thank you!

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CFA will be a different, harder and longer road for you.  Take a look CFA forum in this site and you should find tons of people who are in your situation (kids, work, very little time) and still able to crank it out.  Again, anybody can do CFA, it is a long marathon.  I just finished my CAIA, my biggest observation is that CAIA seems to be more memorization of concepts…CFA is all about application of concepts and lot more calculations (which I like better).  Good luck.

CFA is all about commitment, which means spending a lot of time away from friends and family.. level 1 should be a breeze for you, less than 6 months of prep should get you a comfortable passing.. level 2 is when the reality hits, and you will likely start doubting why you decided to even start on this journey - tons of in-depth information, crazy formulas, and endless practice questions.. level 3 is just as painful as level 2, with less certainties on passing or failing. This might sound discouraging, but at least you know you will pass as long as you put in the time, do the questions, and write as many mock exams as you can get your hands on  (unlike CAIA, you can study as much as you like, and you might still think you walk into the wrong exam session LOL)

I echo everybody else.  Level 1 is easy and you can get that done without tons of time having gone thru CAIA.  The issue is the next two years.  Level II and III are the beasts and it takes double to triple the time to get thru the material compared to CAIA.  Then you have to go back and remember it all!  

 If you study right, I think most people can pass putting in 300 hours spread out over five months for Level II and III.  One can put in less depending on your background.  My background in quant and accounting made Level II easier to get thru, but Level III took me a lot more time.  Many candidates are vice versa. 

It’s really your call on the importance of having the letters.   Good luck no matter what you decide. 

Thank you very much @ws , @iKonic Sonic, and @MajorNYC. I appreciate it hearing it from the horse’s mouth specially since you all have both your CFA and CAIA. I know CFA will be more difficult and longer than CAIA. I like @ws quote “Again, anybody can do CFA”, it is very encouraging. I wish I had learned about AF about 12 years ago when i thought about CFA, signed for the exam, bought the books, but then got bogged down and got stuck in the quants section and life happened … and the rest is history. 

Still need to contemplate a little more and hope to hear from other participant on AF about their thoughts. 

However, and in the mean time, which 3rd party provider did you guys and/or gals used to prepare for the CFA? Kaplan Schweser or other providers? I am astonished about how expensive Kaplan Schweser CFA prep has become. I remember paying less than $900 for the best package they offered!!

As always, your response is always appreciated.

Hi Gogo40,

I have recently done the CAIA level 2 with you in September. Although the feeling of the pass was exhilarating - I would never consider doing the CFA as, for me, it would be a complete waste of time.

I am a Chartered Accountant and studied the CAIA as I have a passion for alternative investments. To do a CFA now, without the intention of managing money, and without the need to (Promotions etc) as my designated industry has almost zero CFA’s. So I think that unless there is a large factor driving your need to do the CFA - it would not be worth it.

However - some people are born academics and enjoy learning and developing, regardless of the outcome. As a quant, I can imagine you are probably one of those people, and thus would find a tremendous amount of satisfaction from the pass. The go ahead - you only live once. If you enjoy it, the sacrifice is always worth it. Something you can teach your kids.

I got my CFA charter back in 2008, during those time, when I register for the exam, it come with the official CFA text book (just like CAIA, I never crack the book open)…only used Kaplan/Schweser study package (I bought the premium package, which included live-instructor led intense 3-day review before the exam) for each level. 

I used only Kaplan except ethics from CFA. Kaplan has the CFA nailed down in my opinion unlike CAIA.    For levels one and two I knew everything in the Slides for all the classes.  I basically had the class slides memorized by exam time.  Used Kaplan workbooks for questions and also all blue section highlight problems (forget name but you’ll know what I mean when you see Kaplan books).   I rarely read any narrative in Kaplan notes in 1 and 2 except when I needed more explanation than class slides. Level 3 was much more reading versus class Slides but worry about that if you get there  

if money is an issue, consider buying previous year Kaplan material from  eBay or amazon   Very little changes from previous year and CFA puts out the sections that change  

I think it’s all about being able to dedicate the time. You should expect to study almost every evening in the 4-6 months leading up to the exam and basically all weekend during the last two months. My advice would be to prioritize mock exams, try to get 8-10 in for each level. Level 1 you can basically just Q-bank like crazy and then drill down on topics that are giving you trouble. That is less likely to work at level 2 and 3. 

Honestly, it seems like you have already decided to pursue the CFA charter and are looking for affirmation. FWIW, I think you should if you think you’d learn.

The CFA charter is a grueling process. Passing the CAIA charter gives you some of the fundamentals, but does not test the same way as the CFA charter, and levels 2 and 3 are, in my opinion, beyond either level of the CAIA program. None of it is particularly difficult, especially for L1, but you will need to make time sacrifices. Quality time with friends and family. Weekends.

I did it in 18 months, starting in the IB when studying for L2. It was terrible, but I emerged knowing that I’d been stretched and I’ve never really been fazed by juggling studies and work again since.