New Member to AF, Ready to Enroll into CFA

Hello Everyone, I’ve been lurking on AnalystForum for the past couple of months and made the decision to join. I’m looking to enroll in the CFA program, Level I June 2008. First, a little bit about myself: I have a major in Finance, minor in Economics. GPA 4.0. I’ve worked in the financial services industry the entire time out of college, mostly in mortgage banking but now back to investing and securities. I currently hold a Series 7, 63, and 65. Right now, I’m working for a major full service brokerage firm as a financial advisor. I’m 26, turning 27 at the end of the year. Initially I was aiming for an MBA from a top 10 or top 15 school, but the CFA looks like the better choice as I’d prefer to advance myself in the field of finance (MBA would be much less detailed, much more eclectic). Before I sign up (early deadline pushed to October 3), I had a few questions: -Is there ample time to study between now and June? I’ll be more specific: If I spend anywhere from 1-2 hours on the weekdays, and about 10 hours on the weekend, would that be sufficient time studying (more time would be allotted to vacation days, of course)? (Note: I did download the first study session to level I off of CFAI’s website and finished reading it last weekend.) -Is anybody familiar with the study curriculum provided by CFAI? Since I’ll automatically receive my books when I enroll, will those books be sufficient for learning the curriculum, or would anyone suggest an outside source that’s better? I’m not a fussy learner, as long as the material on the exam is covered in the texts. -To those that have just earned the CFA, do you plan to or have you pursued any other designations or degrees afterwards (i.e. MBA, PhD, CFP, etc.)? Thanks for any input. I’m looking forward to learning a lot these next several months. -g

  1. Yes - I think January is a good time to start studying; it seems that you plan on studying a lot more than is necessary, especially given the fact that you have a Finance background 2) Yes - the curriculum is all you need; I found the flashcards from one of the vendors useful as well if you’re a train commuter or you can sneak in some studying at work 3) Nope - in my situation, an MBA seems to be a negative NPV

Pace yourself. You don’t want to get through the curriculum, have a couple months of free time to mess around, then spend the last 6 weeks cramming. January is a good time to start. I’ve never used the “curriculum,” when I took the test CFAi just told us to get 12 college text books. I think curriculum would be good enough, but you should definitely spend some money buying more practice questions and mock exams. MBA = break from real life. Will only pursue it if I get laid off or when job gets too hectic. Bottom line is, designation/degrees only gives chance for interview. If you can get a job in the career path you like with only a CFA, why pursue anything else unless absolutely needed. Unless you reach a ceiling that can’t be broken w/o an mba, thats a different story.

Hey Gdiddy The answers to all your questions can vary depending on your background and your own personal situation. 1)I also have a finance background but I would prefer to put in the extra time and really understand and learn the concept and not just have them memorized for the test. CFAI mentions that 250 hours is enough time to prepare for an exam depending on your background. I personally have no problem in studying for 8 months (10-13 hours a week for now then I’ll pick it up around dec/jan). You mentioned if there’s time between now and June to study for the exam. There’s more than enough time I believe but I personally think the earlier you start the more it works it out in your favour. So I would say time is on your side right now just depends how you manage it. 2)From months of reading posts on analyst forum I have noticed that there is a greater number of people that don’t use the curriculum. Instead they turn to study materials (schweser seems like it’s the most popular one) but once again since you still have time maybe it might be a good idea to read the curriculum (I plan on reading FSA, Ethics, possibly quant and ethics from the curriculum and then turn to schweser for everything else including those 4 areas). I’ve noticed that there’s a very large number of people that also use the q-bank from schweser (heard good things about it). 3) Unfortunately I can’t answer the last question since I have not earned the charter yet. But it seems like to gain a competitive advantage in the securities industry it might be a good idea to go after your MBA but once again that depends on your personal situation and where you eventually want to end up. That might not even be necessary as networking can be even more beneficial than a MBA.

You definitely have enough time to pass Level 1 in June.

Everyone, Thank you for your response. I think I will go ahead and sign up for the Level I this week. I’m very eager to start learning. Do any of you think that the value of this designation will become “watered down” so to speak? The reason I ask is because I’ve notice a lot of people at work talk on a whim about how they’re going to take the CFA, when these very same people have failed exams for their securities licenses. Although, then again, maybe that’s what explains the majority failure rate for the CFA. But it seems like a lot of people view the designation less seriously, as if it’s another piece of paper to hang on the wall. -g

They can talk about it all they want, but 1 in 4 who signs up passes L1 and then you only have LII and LIII to go - but they’re pretty easy if you have a decent background and 700 hours to study. Edit: And the CFA exams are quantum leaps tougher than the securities licensing exams. Any charterholder should be able to get any securities license in an afternoon of reading the regs and other specifc stuff.

Joey, Thanks for the insight. I will be dedicating a significant amount of time towards studying. Hence, the decision to sign up around now. -g