College Students writing in December

Is anyone writing level 1 in December still in undergrad? Im a fourth year finance student at a University in Canada, wondering where other such students are in their CFA studies. I’m finding that studies for school and CFA studying are becoming more difficult to manage concurrently as the semester progresses. I’m taking portfolio theory and derivatives at school as well though, so hopefully I will gain some benefit from the overlapping topics. Is there any competitive advantage in gaining employment having passed level 1 before graduating Uni?

Of course. All else equal, a prospective employer would prefer a Level II candidate to someone not in the CFA program. I’m fighting the urge to put “duh” at the end of this post. Anyways, good luck on Level I.

To clarify, I meant to ask whether there would be any real advantage to having passed in december 07 while still in school, rather that june 08 having recently graduated.

What does it matter? You pass in December or you pass in June. I passed in June and I graduate this December. Its not like you pass it and three months later it goes away.

Yeah, it is tough with time management. I’m a senior at the University of Michigan, and I’ll also be taking it this December. I’m pretty behind with my CFA studying, but I’m really going to push hard given that there’s 7 weeks left. Unlike most of the people here, we have no company that’s sponsoring us and paying for all of our Schweser notes and exam fees. I didn’t spend about $1,500 for nothing. I’m determined to kick ass come December 1st. See if you can some MBA students who may also be taking the exam this December. Good luck.

My company didn’t sponsor the CFA program either - I guess I better pass.

Reviewing Ethics today, still have to read Fixed Income, Derivatives, and finish FSA 4. 36 days left…

Whether or not december versus june matters is if you intend to go into interviews before or after june. Doing honours level investments and derivatives doesn’t really help that much as most of the material in the whole of level 1 is second year undergrad material at the very most (apart from FSA, third year level material). However, doing honours does mean that you are better able to understand and think about the material than if you weren’t at that level.

Just one other thing, don’t neglect your uni marks. You can always do level 1 again later, but if you get terrible marks in very important finance subjects like investments and derivatives at uni then the big banks or big name funds won’t touch you with a barge pole. That reminds me, I’d better do some study for the maths exam I have in two weeks.

urm… I thought one of the requirements to have CFA membership (and take any of the exams) was to have a completed bachelor’s degree? how can u be an undregrad and take the exam? “To qualify as a regular member of CFA Institute and a local society, an investment professional must meet all of the criteria listed below: Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or have equivalent education or work experience”

lighten up oagra, we’re not clueless (well at least I’m not), if you keep looking you’ll find something about being able to do the first exam if you’re in your last year of an undergrad degree. don’t quote me on that though, i said it’s something like that.

As is pretty obvious from my posts, I think the CFA program is very valuable and I think there’s lots of great stuff to learn. But if any of my kids was studying for their CFA exams while in college, I would be mightily ticked. When I was in college I had a professor who used to give an introductory lecture in Political Science 101 in which he said that in this class we wouldn’t study something as narrowly defined as political science but we would include history, geography, philosophy, sociology, psychology and whatever else he could think of. The reason is that college isn’t about exploring narrowly defined topics, but about being inducted into The Conversation of Man. For 5000 or 5,000,000 years, people have been trying to understand their universe, the nature of God and themselves, and create beauty. Nearly all the pearls from the best mind’s search are taught in at least one college course. You can learn about DNA, quantum mechanics, relativity, Michaelangelo, Thomas Aquinas, calculus, etc, etc. Learn enough of these things and you can listen to the Conversation. Learn even more and you can participate. Not much on the CFA exams is part of the Conversation. Some econ. A little math. I would much, much rather hire someone who spent his time in college reading Kierkagaard than passing the CFA exams. Someone gave you this beautiful opportunity to grab the very best that thousands of years of humanity has to offer and instead you chose a professional certification exam… What other opportunities are you going to miss and what are they going to cost me?

Well I’m sure these guys here will miss out on a few opportunities to participate in clubs and go to a few public lectures to enrich their university experience. However, from the undergrad guys I’ve known that sat the first exam during undergrad, they do the CFA study on top of their standard course of university study. It might not be a good idea in relation to how it will affect their university studies (and if their studies are greatly affected these undergrads shouldn’t be studying for the CFA exam), but generally speaking they wouldn’t be doing additional studies that broaden their knowledge and understanding across new areas if they were not doing the CFA exams anyway. Chances are they like so many others enrolled in commerce related degrees would be stuck following a very strict set of courses in order to meet accreditation requirements in their accounting degree, or have absolutely no choice in the subjects they choose if they study actuarial science. Broadening your understanding into non-professional areas is great and most students do that anyway. I’m sure that most students would love to follow the path that you recommend and use their time outside of classes to read more broadly, but study for the level one CFA exam takes only six months and although reading Kierkagaard is a more noble pursuit some people have to spend the rest of their time outside of class working to pay the bills.

Oh well…

Joey, I couldn’t agree more. I believe that the fierce competition within this industry is narrowing the focus of many college students. The age-old example is the growing number of younger athletes who are playing one sport rather than two or three. How many collegiate baseball players play soccer in the fall? OK, not a great example but you get the point. Not only is the emphasis more on winning, but the underlying training methodology is far more superior than it has ever been. Everyone is becoming bigger, faster, and stronger in order to excel within their one sport. What I am trying to say is that this “prioritization” is becoming the norm when building a career in finance. The entire financial industry is glamorized. College students who choose not to study Kierkegaard do so because they believe that watching CNBC before class or studying for the CFA will help them land an investment banking or trading job. Sure, it might help some but many will realize a few years down the road at the possibilities missed during their senior year in college. Take a look at many of the first year analysts who are hired by the top banks in Manhattan - many have a hard time holding a decent conversation if it begins to trail away from money, work, and trying to hook up with girls at the hot spots in the city. Theres a reason why some professors from top MBA programs are complaining that many of their students seek an MBA from their program merely to network and fall into an associate position or work at a PE/VC firm. Everyone wants to make top dollar and some will do anything to reach the top. For many, attending a certain college and then finding that perfect job while meeting only the right people are just smaller parts of the larger plan. Too bad. It is tough to really ENJOY life these days. I guess its just the nature of the beast.

I thought there would be more complaining about how few undergraduates actually decide to take the exam. It is a good exercise in time management to maintain a good GPA, study for the exam, and keep a balanced life. I believe it also puts a measure on the amount knowledge a student retained after four years of college. It is not difficult for an undergraduate student to enjoy life while studying for the CFA exam, as long as he/she has a little bit of self discipline.

Define enjoying life while studying.

After you tell me how many collegiate baseball players play soccer in the fall.