I’m not echoing the OP’s exact sentiment, but understand where he’s coming from and talking about.
Basically, by the time you get to Level 3, you are just tired from the whole ordeal. Level 2 is 10x harder probably, and level 3 is a different beast altogether. Fail one year, it compounds that feeling of ‘bitterness’. As you get older, life and responsibilitie changes, etc., so you better be committing for the right reason. Because you spend money, and more importantly time that you will not get back… it can cause relationship issues too.
Essentially, you’d better have clarity as to why you need it. Not hoping that someday, it will make a difference. One barameter of that is how does your employer treat the CFA progam? Will they pay for your books, exams, etc. If they do, then you are probably taking it for the right reason because mostly, only ‘real’ finance employers do that. The people that really need it are those with buyside careers. The most elite in the field. Those companies will bend over backwards to make sure you get it, because it is in their best interests, and usually a stated requirement for the job. Others that should pursue it are those with a legitimate shot, interviews, etc in the buyside. Or sell-side (anything where your name gets published as a source of indepedent anlytical thinking)
So when you see eager beavers going into this whole thing all rosy-eyed, but then see them struggle in later years (again this whole ordeal will compound like you would not expect), while talking about how it sucks, that it hasn’t done much for your career, it’s just easier to tell it to L1 candidates now from a L3 working in ‘real’ finance perspective. Because once you start, and decide it isn’t for you, it hangs over your life. It reminds you that you FAILED in completing this.
Then you see the sheer size and enormity of Level 1 candidates out there, especially those who think it can help you change your career, or really excel (as if a employer is going to be impressed with just exam completion alone), it does make the ‘older’, real ‘experienced’ Candidate cynical. Basically, the CFA program will not be able to make up for your deficiencies to get in or advance in a finance job.
What are those deficiencies? It is very much a people business. Your obvious best shot is to make it out right out of the gate from school. If not, you have to have the right story and characteristics. The real game and reason for Finance is to attract or play a meaningful role in creating or moving the money. So you have to those traits that can facilitate that movement of money, and have that ‘something’ about you that a company can one day trust you with being responsible for millions, or potentially billions of dollars in value.
Basically be someone that people will want to work with (not be one of those that “just don’t get it”), have a certain saviness, develop a thick sikin, communication/soft skills/wit/vibe, astuteness, competence (this is alot more challenging to obtain then you think), have the right connections/friends (many people get in or get a job through referral… they have someone who’s already most of that vouching for them). Whatever it is, those are more important skills to develop then spending your time sucked into a black hole for 6 months out of the year thinking “This will be the ticket to success in Finance!”
Here, in Canada, there’s this ‘certificate’ called the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) that used to be the mandatory thing to get if you wanted to break into any sort of finance related job. Back-office, sales, call-center, etc. But L1 has basically replaced that. You have people who went to some basic college or working in a call center thinking “I think I’ll take a crack at that CFA… it seems to be the ticket to make alot of $$!”. Basically, it’s gotten out of hand. All most are going to do is commit 3-4 years on average for very little payoff.
I don’t mean to be discouraging or ‘mean’ but just reiterating what some of the thoughts from L3 candidates out there who have seen many naive, rosy-eyed candiates fall by the wayside or have had very little impact in their career, and are regretful about it. But I most definitely understand that if you don’t even attempt, it virtually nullifies your chances since L1 is now almost equivalent to the CSC I menioned. But maybe, if many who are just doing it out of naivness or hope, took a step back and reconsidered doing this, the CFA program can actually be of real added value to those that are serious and ‘rightfully’ taking it. Sorry for the ramble, but wrote more then I expected.
In any case, I hope the best for all those that took it, and to remind there is more to life and career then this exam. I do hope for sucess for those that genuinely want it and worked hard. Now time to enjoy the summer!