Denial: Of course we should never be surprised at a candidate’s tendency to overestimate his natural given abilities. At this stage a candidate often esteems himself one of the brightest fellows to bestowed upon the financial markets. With abundant hubris, he will survey the field of The Street and see only fools and fancy that he, naturally, can do better. In others the burden of denial weighs a little more heavily. Often candidates will delude themselves into thinking that they do not belong in the back office and utter absurdities such as “engineers make good investors” or “my IT education and experience have prepared me for finance”. For them the CFA acts like a lottery does for the impoverished, while clearly a select few will have their ticket called, overall the program keeps everyone dreaming and in line. Anger: “I don’t belong in the back office”, “why isn’t the CFAI accepting my flimsy sales/IT/back office goon job as experience?”, or “I can’t believe there is so much material, I’ll never pass this thing” are all good examples of phrases oft heard at this stage. This for many candidates is the first time they become trully aware that their station in life just may be one of mediocrity. Bargaining: The intrepid candidate here will often try to cleverly word his experience so as to make what he does sound meaningful the CFAI. It is not uncommon for him to pick apart every mundane unimportant task in search for some scrap of impact on the investment process. Depression: It is at this stage that many candidates succumb to the grief that comes with the realization that they probably should have tried to get into a better undergraduate school/business school, sought out more meaningful experience, or have been aware that when they were studying engineering/IT/history/basketweaving whatever, they really had a pent up financial wizard inside of them just waiting to pounce on Wall St. to snatch from those less sophisticated. Acceptance: “I don’t really want to be in Ibanking. After all, who wants to work all those hours anyway.” At this point the candidate finally comes to terms with reality and often knows he will have an uphill battle fighting tooth and nail the get a shot at working for a third tier money manager or slick talking wealth manager. Only then might he eventually hope to his shot a managing real money.