A letter I sent to CFAI President

Attn: Mr. Paul Smith, President and CEO, CFA Institute

CC: CFA Instititute Customer Service Dear Mr. Smith, My name is [CFAilure] and I am former Level III Candidate on CFA Program. I am writing you now not to vent my feelings, but to ask for a reply which would help me to decide on my further steps concerning the Program. The first question I am asking in every college and university would be supposed to be addressed to an advisor but since CFAI does not advise candidates and the Customer Service can be addressed on technical issues only, I have nothing but to apply directly to CEO. Mr. Smith, I was in the Program from 2005 and sat for the exam in each consecutive year (I skipped only one). You can tell me everything but not that I was not serious concerning my goal. Yesterday, when received my results I must witness that I felt that I was fooled and there is a wide gap between the Integrity and the Exam. I understand that making such a statement is, perhaps, violation of the Code but on this stage what is important for me is to tell you all the naked truth. You see, Mr. Smith, for the 2015 Exam I put a lot of study hours. You can see the results on my evening session results. Perhaps they are not perfect, but they are very far from the catastrophe of the morning session. And you know what, Mr. Smith? On the morning session I knew E-V-E-R-Y piece of material related to the questions. I knew that I knew. I was happy that I knew. I kept to the point in my answers. Wrote them in a bullet form. And every single essay (except of 2) got less then 50 point. OK, I ran out of time and one question was blank. But all the others??? It just cannot be true. Just cannot be. You know, Mr. Smith, according to the rules I am not allowed to look at my exam again. I cannot appeal and discuss my answers with the grader. By the time when you release AM questions nobody will remember his answers from 6 month before. Actually I can do nothing on this stage. I knew material and you are telling me I know nothing and nobody will tell my why.Can you please advise me how can I be ‘encouraged’ to register for 2016 exam if I was knocked down for nothing in 2015? I have another question which I asked your predecessor and for which I did not get a meaningful reply (I was replied with quotes from promotional material which did not address the question). Mr. Smith, why does CFAI conceal the real number of hours needed to be prepared for the test? Why do you hide yourselves after "candidates report… more than 300 hours…’ Technically, you are right. 500-600 hours is more than 300 hours (the assessment of 500-600 is from Analyst Forum). But I am sure CFAI has its own assessment. Why don’t you disclose it for the potential Candidates? Why a Portfolio Manager is in violation of Code if she would state that ‘the average return is less then 5%’ (when the real figure is, say -2%), but CFAI is totally fine telling of ‘more than 300 hours’ when everyone who studied says 300 hours is just an official joke (just take the number of pages 2438 in 2016 Level III * (4 min for first reading on average + 3 minutes for the review) will bring us very close to 300 hours, and that is well before mock exams and practicing questions… So Mr Smith I would like to have a reply for the 2 issues. For me now it’s not about the preparation. It’s all about of the validity and the integrity of the Exam. Can you please answer me?

Let us know if you hear back.

I put it also on twitter… https://twitter.com/CFAilure1/status/631315786166984704

Totally agree with the CFAllure. All this stuff is organized for money and not to promote integrity or sometning they claim to do so. They are very unfair in the marks they put and hide the number ot hours needed to take the exam successfully. If I knew the number of hours I would need to take the Level 3 exam for example I would have never started this complete BS. Here in Bulgaria nobody cares about their CFA Designation since it is not even a degree either.

Hate to break it to you, Red, but you’re in the minority.

#53PercentPassedin2015 #IncludingVicky

I got a letter saying they will reply in one or two days. The note was signed by Paul Smith himself. The letter from Mr Haran last year was 80% but one copy and paste from there promotion material. When the reply recieved I put it here for other people to decide if they would want to register for the exam next year.

Grabbing popcorn).

I hear your pain my friend… Somehow I doubt CFAI gives a cr## about you (and all others with similar feelings). To them you are just a number for their statistics. You are not going to get a decent reply from them. It’s probably in your best interest to either write again next year or leave it alone, as pursuing this is just going to cause you more frustrations.

Disagree. If some people will read it and decide not to pay them next year that perhaps will change their stance… let’s see. If they put me on pcp and expel from the program i do not really care for that - sorry.

There were about 28,000 LIII test takers. That’s ALOT of exams to grade for the AM session. Let’s say that 14,000 failed. Let’s say that CFAI offered some process by which, perhaps for yet another fee, some human being would (through Skype?) spend one or two hours working through your answers on your particular test and comparing them with the guideline answers. Theoretically, this means that CFAI might actually have to engage in 14,000 personal coversations! Since the guideline answers don’t come out until November, you would have to wait for your personal review session until then. Further, since LIII is a “core dump” exam, where you know what you know best in the moment of the test and literally forget most everything thereafter, you would be hard pressed to compare what you wrote for the exam with what your reviewer is telling you as you would be unlikely to remember how you even got to the answers you got to since you will have forgotten the material.

So, practically, even if CFAI offered you the chance to personally review your exam, you may actually no longer understand your own answers to make the review effective. Further, as well, reviews of this sort would allow candidates to say to the reviewer that CFAI may have “misinterpreted” their answer, or argue that more partial credit should have been given because the answer (from the candidates point of view) was “closer” to the guideline than CFAI thought it was. Or, the candidate could say things like, "what I really meant to say was . . . " In short, a personal review sets up CFAI for a negotiation over scores, and CFAI can’t be in that business as it favors both those who could pay for the extra session as well as those who could negotiate and browbeat the CFAI reviewer into adjusting the score.

Thus, my conclusion is that CFAI cannot and, more importantly, should not personalize its correspondence with any failed candidate over scores.

Disagree. There is no sin in making guidlines public in 48 hours after the exam and not in november…

Yes there are lots of people who failed and got frustrated and this and that and yes CFAI can’t cater for all… but how many can claim and demonstrate the persistence like CFAilure - if what he/she stated is true, he/she has started this program since 2005 and has only stopped for one year… that will give it 9 attempts?

Yes, maybe some would say it is just not for you, give up… but then maybe CFA should just start considering implementing a minimum passing time… yes people will get frustrated that they can’t make it within the timeline… but then if this is the case, it is better to find out and got stopped earlier than after 9 failed attempts…

I hope you get a decent reply CFAilure… or at least, some practical guidance/advice for you if you were to try it for another year… Good luck.

Also there is even less sin in scanning your answers with graders mark and making it visible for you online.

For the people who did not know - i made 7 atrempts on level 2. That was my first year on level 3

If i’m not mistaken, i think Paul Smith himself only got the charter at age 40 (an achievment which people should applaud for perseverence) odd so I doubt he’s going to have much sympathy

They had a 4.5 years frame to pass… but they cancelled it… not good for fee income, I suggest.

well how did you feel after all the level 2 tests? Did you think you aced any of them right after?

Also CFAI does give more exact study estimates


This is ridiculous. The test is suppossed to be hard. That’s why the charter is so prestigeous. Anyone who sits for L2 seven times has no business being a charterholder.

Sorry to break it to you, but your record speaks for itself. You attempted level 2, an exam with MC rather than essay, 7 times! If you started the program in 2005 and had a 1-year break-- this means that you failed level 1 once. Your record shows a lot of persistence, but at the same time it shows that the program is not for everybody. There was a guy on this forum, Tozzert, who made the comment that if you fail level 1 after putting in 300 hours, you should probably stop and get out of the program, and I agree with that sentiment.

I doubt you’ll get anything out of the letter and it’s very likely that you’re just wasting your time.

You know nothing about me. You do not know how many hours i put this year and in every l 2 attempts. Do not discuss people before you know the facts. If you have any suggestions on my perfomance please feel free to send them to cfai. I did not ask for your opinions on my perfomance. I asked the questions and made them public.