Why? Which part of the topic?
Most difficult or not well explained topic among all three levels, if any? If more than one?
Fixed income…Don’t remember too much about level 1 and 2, but in level 3, the CFAI material is poorly written and structured. The immunization part is lengthy but I still can not fully understand(multi-liability and cash flow matching etc), some parts I had to memorize the conclusion directly. Also, the whole relative value method chapter including the EOC is like a crap…I tried to read CFAI material, but it felt like reading some general bond market journal and I had no idea what important points I need to know/remember to solve AM exam questions. For this part, I had to resort to Kaplan notes+past AM questions.
Certain parts of Capital market expectation(economics) in level 3. This topic is actually the most useful part for real job, however due to limited weights and CFAI’s ambition to include every tiny issue they can consider, some points are not fully developed and well explained. My major was accounting not economics, I found these parts difficult to follow. Thankfully, the exam questions are usually doable.
Pension plan in Level 2, hands down.
Currency hedging, L3
To start, CFA reverses market convention and lists the quote currency first and the base currency second. This lays the foundation for confusing currency conversions throughout the curriculum and sets you up for failure when dealing with practical applications. Second, FX and hedging are addressed by different authors through multiple books, each using different terminology, none of which is market standard. Third, the texts provide no visual aids despite the inherent level of abstraction and sprawling nature of the content, even though it provides them for swaps, a comparatively easier topic. Fourth, this poorly written and often contradictory material is integrated throughout the curriculum and tested heavily. Last, and worst of all, there is little relevance to actual market practice. It is all needlessly academic and virtually useless.
I could go on, and there are other very poorly written topics such as Fixed Income mentioned above, but the CFA’s treatment of currency hedging and FX in general is an indictment of the organization’s credibility, and as corollary, the charter itself.
Level 1 (Entire Econ chapter)
Level 1 (Quants - Probability Distribution)
Level 2 (Derivatives - SWAPS)
Level 3 (Fixed Income - Entire session), Behavioral Finance (Entire session)
life insurance stuff level 3 (the chapter didn’t even have EOC)
IPS required return calculations… beyond the examples from actual AM exams going back 10+ years… the text book doesn’t actually have any examples of some of the questions that have come up on the AM exam