Background reading

Hello: Can people please recommend and background reading (non CFA and non Schweser/Stalla, etc.) books to help in building a solid backround for passing the CFA exams? Again my goal is to fully understand, not just pass. Thank you, Daniel

I wish i had time to finish studying all the CFAI material, and Schweser, and Stalla as well :(. what were you looking for in particular? more options to study from? or more indepth teachings? There are optional readings with the CFAI material. As well somewhere on the site, there’s the textbooks that the readings are taken from. You can get those books and read them. but honestly, the CFA material will be plenty. I’m assuming you haven’t started studying the material, because you would have seen that there is already so much covered.

Really, looking to learn everything in detail. I’m just starting for the Dec exam. I have a PhD in Marketing from a top b-school and an MS in Management Science. I think I may fall short in accounting, I’m also especially interested in building my background in risk modeling - does that come in more in Level III or just more so in an FRM? Thank you! Daniel

I’d like to share my opinion on what I perceive to be two common misconceptions about the CFA Program. 1) Candidates think there’s a difference between “really understanding” the material and “just passing the exams.” The CFA candidate’s motivation is completely irrelevant because the exams simply cannot be passed without understanding the Candidate Body of Knowledge. You either get it, or you fail. There’s no bonus points for noble intentions. 2) Candidates overestimate the depth of the program. Passing these exams will make you an expert in precisely zero fields of study. Very bright individuals have dedicated their entire professional lifetimes to the study of each specific field upon which the CFA Program touches only lightly. You will literally spend the rest of your lifetime pursuing the depth of knowledge you’re seeking. But make no mistake, I’m neither selling short the difficulty of the program nor the sense of accomplishment one should feel for successfully earning his/her charter. I like the way JDV recently described the educational value of the CFA program: “The CFA exams are nearly useless in helping you beat markets but you gotta walk before you can run and you need to learn this stuff to be able to participate in an intelligent discussion about markets.” If specialization is what you seek, the CFA Program isn’t the answer. However, I’ll consider this whole process a success if I can have an intelligent conversation about markets by the time that coveted charter arrives in the mail. If you decide the CFA program is for you, then I wish you nothing but success. All I’m advocating is the proper management of expectations. JDV quote taken from:,645452,645721#msg-645721

Part 2: back to practical considerations. You don’t need to read anything outside of the CFAI Curriculum in order to gain sufficient understanding to pass these exams. However, if you’re interested in additional material, you’ll find that the CFAI volumes footnote their sources which guides you towards more specialized and complete discussions of topics that interest you. Also, CFAI lists all of their source references in one place:

wow, Hiredguns. That was very well put. DanLieb, try looking at the break down of testing on the CFA exams at each level. I don’t have it off hand, but it gives a good idea what you’ll expect to learn. Level 1 is very broad in areas, but it won’t leave you feeling like you have no clue about any of the areas, but it sure as hell won’t won’t be equal to an accounting degree, econ degree, stats degree, etc. sorry i don’t have an idea what Level 2 and 3 are. Sadly I haven’t got that far :frowning: so far i have yet to hear anybody complain they didn’t learn enough from Level 1 or that there wasn’t enough material in it, let alone level 2,3 etc.

DanLieb, I second hiredguns1. CFAI curriculum is self-sufficient.

Dan, if you want to look into risk modeling, there are two books that beginning risk managers like to read, both with very little or no math but plenty of concepts - Steve Allen’s Financial Risk Management and Marrison’s Fundamentals of Risk Management. If you want something easier (say, for bedtime reading and motivation), there are many good popular books such as When Genius Failed on the LTCM crash, and I am sure people on this board can recommend more.