Should I take Level II and III?

I passed the CFA Level I exam in december 2011. I am debating whether I want to go through with the next 2 exams. At the moment, I am not sure whether I will be working professionally in an investment-related role ever so I will not be getting a charter anytime soon.

Reason for taking the exams: I want to become a recreational stock analyst of professonial caliber. I have a limited background in stock valuation. Is it worth studying for these next two exams?


Since your goal is to learn something, then yes.

I am a professional stock analyst and would say no. There is an unlimited amount of stuff in the world to learn (or specifically in the world of finance), but there’s a limited number of hours to learn it. Focus on the stuff that matters. 95% of the material in the CFA program is not relevant to what you want to do. Level 1 helps, but 2 and 3 are way overkill and are unhelpful. If you want to learn to invest, read Michael Porter, study accounting, and read all of the value investing books (Graham, Greenblatt, etc.). When I first got into the industry six years ago I set out to do what you did and after I finished I was like, “WTF, why did I even study the CFA if all of that stuff is unrelated to being an investor?” It helps to have the credential in the industry (because we live in a credentialist world) but you don’t need that if you’re playing from home.

Agree with Bromion. Ethics section for instance.

I don’t think you should do it. I’m a level 3 candidate, and I think CFA is making me worse. All this time I should be spending getting better at investing I’m learning random stuff I don’t want to.

Although I would say do Level 2. There is some FSA stuff that would be valuable.

You have already accomplished something that many did not in passing Level I. If you enjoyed the process and the material, enroll in Level II and see if you enjoy that material as well. If not, spend your time doing what Bromion suggested and read, read, read some more. Level II does have some great material on valuation which I believe is the most important aspect of equity investing. Knowing what a company is worth allows you to have conviction in your positions when the market disagrees.

You’ve gotten good advice from the above posters.

I would add that learning some of the stuff in the level 2 and 3 curriculum is a must but all the effort and time that it takes to pass level 2 and 3 is not worth it for you based on what you have mentioned your career goals are. Pretty much everything in the level 2 curriculum is availble for free online on dozens of websites (e.g. investopedia). So its not like you have to pay to get all this lovely information.

Passing these next two levels is really hard and the aggrevation is not worth it especially if you are not being incentivized professionally to do so.

If you are gonna do it, make sure you really go for it full steam. You don’t want to be in the position where you are retaking these exams. Trust me. It sucks.

Yes, retaking any of these exams really sucks.

you guys telling me studying GIIPS compliance is not important?

why do you care if you got the charter? unless your job is related to it

I thought the accounting stuff in L2 is pretty useful, especially if you did not study that stuff in school (like me). L3 is more for dealing with clients, so it would probably be less useful in this particular case.

Pretty much, yeah

I personally can’t wait until I can use soft dollar standards as cocktail party talk.

i’m kidding, i felt level 3 was kinda a waste of time, but one should still learn and forget it…you can’t go through an investment career without actually understanding the basics of wealth management…not everbody should be picking stocks or building algorithms…

Thank you guys for your advice. After reading through all comments and some introspection, there’s high likelihood at this point that I will take Level II next June.

yeah, don’t rush it. If you are not already well on your way then don’t bother this year. It’s not worth the time/energy/effort especially if you fail.

Do it right, do it once.

Unless he pulls an all-in for 10 hours / day over 30 days in a bomb-proof shelter.