Why Ethics is so difficult...

I continue to struggle with the ethics section. It’s not that I fail the section, or even that I score lower than 70% on it. It’s that I simply cannot get every question right on a section that should almost - by definition - be a complete layup. As I thought about the reasons, I came up with a simple one. Others can weigh in. I believe for those who are not really in finance (by that, I mean front-office risk management), ethics is easy. Look at a question, if it appears shady, it’s obviously wrong. For those of us who have worked for years in the business, however, what the CFA defines as “wrong” or “unethical” is not necessarily “illegal.” Many of us have done a lot of the things the CFA society is telling us is wrong. I look at a question, and often say “Ok, so…what? What was wrong with that?” Only to learn that the situation in question has just violated some major “no-no.”

Don’t beat yourself up. Ethics is not that easy and you shouldn’t assume it to be a layup. Everything in the section is ambiguous and almost every single answer option you’ll see on the exam may have merit for being the “more correct” choice. Rarely do you look at a question and immediately spot the correct answer. It’s the kind of material that even having the book in front of you during the exam wouldn’t help all that much. When in doubt, it’s a violation.

Do more questions. The more scenarios you see, the better.

I think CFAI EOC (60 something) and Schweser EOC (40 something) are a good amount of questions to practice. You get see a lot of scenarios. What i struggle with is Soft Dollar and Research Objectivity Standards because you need to know what is recommended and what is required. This is something i cant get my head around and moreover i am very bad at cramming.

FYI Risk management is not front office

there was this old CFA charter told us how to study for ethics. it is a language, u have to do ethics questions every day to get used to CFAI’s definition of wat is “acceptible”. once u get used to it, (once u learn the language), on the exam day u ll just innately go thru the questions. it is a mental thing.

Ethics is a very intuitive section, some people are naturally more intuitive than others. I would say there is a negative correlation b/w how well you do in ethics vs. FRA since it’s very difficult to reason why so many accounting rules and differences exist, which is why we have to do so many adjustments. Some industry norms are violations but the above advice is correct, do as many questions as you can find and build up a base case bank, then intuitively apply it to whatever wordy nonsense they ask you. That said there are a lot of questions that are straight up violations. To go deep above 70%, got to go into CFAI’s head. For entertainment, check out the wall of shame: http://www.cfainstitute.org/ethics/conduct/Pages/current_industry_related_sanctions.aspx

Actually I have the opposite problem. I come from a compliance background and I look at the problems I miss and say that is definitely wrong and find that they say it is OK, or only partially wrong. From a compliance standpoint, a lot of firms have a few rules that are more strict than CFA’s although I can certainly see where you are coming from talking about industry norms.

have trouble in distinguishing the “Required” and " Recommended" under the soft dollar standards and the Research Objectivity Standards study… tips please,anyone?

get or make some study notes. It’s a little late to spin your wheels to much in writing your own (not in the sense of late in learning it, but late in the sense of oppurtunity cost of time). Do some questions. EOCs, or use some prep service like the almighty scwez or finquiz or some such. Study what you got wrong and find the material in your notes and read and pause to think about it. Then do some more questions…rinse and repeat. This may not be the “right” way, just one way I’m using. And I feel as though it is helpful for me.

For $99 bucks i bought an app for my mobile device, available on android for sure and prob iphone, where its just a test bank. There are over 400 ethics questions alone on it. I do them every night before I go to bed. I can totally see what a previous poster said about it being a language, you sort of just pick the stuff up after having seen a whole bunch of questions.