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CFA Exam study guides - Suggestions & pointers


Gopinath
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I took and passed all the CFA exams.  I used schweser for L1 and CFAI curriculum for L2 and L3.  I went to the 5 day DFW schweser review for all 3 levels.  At L2 and L3 the most important study tool are notecards and CFAI EOC ?'s.  There are no short cuts.  You have to put in the time.  

 

Good luck

 

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I took and passed all the CFA exams.  I used schweser for L1 and CFAI curriculum for L2 and L3.  I went to the 5 day DFW schweser review for all 3 levels.  At L2 and L3 the most important study tool are notecards and CFAI EOC ?'s.  There are no short cuts.  You have to put in the time.  

 

Good luck

 

 

cfa, do you feel the program is worth it? if you don't mind me asking, what do you do for a living? a buddy of mine passed all 3 of his and no other opportunities really opened up for him.

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My two cents; forget schweser & study notes

 

Get the CFA books, read them line by line, take summary notes. mark important sections.

 

CFA is awesome for someone who is completely new to finance, economics etc

 

I would say 30% is useless as it talks about MPT, beta etc rest are great

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I definitely think the CFA is worth it.  I was an analyst with a portfolio management team (retail level).  I have since moved on to a natural gas marketing company (institutional level).  The doors most certainly opened but I warn you that it is most useful if you have prior finance experience.  I know a lot of people that are engineers and IT folks that have took and passed the CFA exams thinking it was their golden ticket into finance.  That is not the case, in my experience.  It may help though.   

 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

 

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I have the designation. It can be very helpful at the start of your career, although nothing comes close to networking.

 

Even the mean-variance stuff can be useful in that knowing the parameters of a model helps you to understand unmodeled outcomes. And the derivatives content can improve the way you frame bets. My main criticism about the program is that it is simply too broad. You will have to do a lot of independent reading if you want to comprehend a topic.

 

I only used the CFA books for the first three exams... BIG mistake. I ended having to take the third level twice because of too much time devoted to memorizing GIPS rules. Stalla more than makes up the money in time saved.

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Hi,

 

I have been thinking about entering CFA exams. Any pointers/suggestions/study materials to make higher understanding & confidence on the topics ? I assume few people have done this before in this board.

 

Thanks,

Gopi

 

Here is an email that I have sent to some friends in the past:

 

 

For all three levels I used the Stalla study program.  Schweser is def the most popular and less expensive, but I really liked Stalla.  I guess you may already have one of these...if not I suggest using one.  The CFAI official books are good for practice problems (I didn't use them until L3) but very dry.  Also I used the cd-rom self study program rather than live classes.  I liked being able to do things on my schedule and didn't have trouble making myself do the work.  Being able to watch videos was also a great way to break up the monotony of reading some really tedious text.  Peter Olinto is one of the Stalla instructors and does a good job of making things interesting.  Iif you follow a program and put in the work, it should be very helpful.

 

One of the best general tips I can give you is to leave plenty of time to review at the end.  This is probably the most important time of studying.  I'd say leave 3-4 weeks after your done with a study program to go back over everything and see it again in the last few weeks.  If you're like me, you'll be surprised how much you can forget from the beginning of studying to the end.  I would take the last week of work off before the test and review all week.  Work a lot of practice tests (online from CFAI are best) the last week and touch up on any weak spots.

 

Also check out www.analystforum.com.  I never posted on there but it is a great site to see what other people are doing to prepare.

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I am currently studying to retake Level 2. Level 1 was reasonable and I only used the CFA texts. Last year, I think I was burnt out and I had too much going on to study enough. However, I made the decision to use the Schweser books to study this year. I like seeing the clear language that goes straight to the point. With my added work duties, It helps keep my studying efficient. If you have time to "dig" then the CFA texts are probably OK.

 

I don't know if this designation is useful to someone trying to get into finance. I decided to take these exams because I already working in the field. I came from an engineering/programming background, so I got my foot in the door by getting an IT job. After a while, I realized it was better to be closer to the money in a financial company.

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I passed level 1 a couple of years ago. Since then I haven't really progressed much, and haven't felt the need to do the whole thing.

in the meantime, my pay has gone up.  ;D

 

Some jobs require you to get the CFA as a requirement. Mine didn't. I've got a finance background anyways, so haven't felt the need to get it as a way to enter the industry.

 

I feel as though it doesn't really help you make money, but it might help you in improving your CV. As I've progressed further and further in my career, I realize how ineffectual (or some might harshly label it 'useless') a CFA is. I've hardly used any of the theory in the CFA Level 1 curriculum. Even ethics, which they are serious about, it's not black or white in the real world and there are so many cultural factors when dealing with people that you couldn't possibly apply the CFA standards to the real world. Much the same applies to the finance theory as well.

 

A big reason why I'm against doing the whole program if it takes too much time is the CFA doesn't really teach you about 'making money' or 'being a capitalist' or managing RISK. It doesn't contribute to that 'sixth sense' about how to allocate, protect and grow capital.

 

There are countless MBAs and CFAs who loss big money during the GFC. And might I add that a lot of MBA programs and the CFA curriculum will go over theories and subjects that aren't really helpful to financial success in the real world. For example, in say statistics with normal distribution curves, when in fact it's the outliers that really define an investment career (e.g. 9/11 or buying during the GFC).

 

I can only say that it may help you in keeping updated with the industry as you're a member. However, if you're a busy professional like myself, who is working at least 9-10 hours a day or more, where do you have time to get involved with all the CFA events???

 

Also, I think a CFA is more suited to a 'sales' type of role more, b/c you can sell your credentials to clients, this means if you're working on the sell side of the industry, or your a big mutual fund who is selling hard to clients via marketing. But in terms of a private hedge fund or something akin to a Paulson fund or a Buffett 1950s style fund, then it's really meaningless not unless it can help you grow capital. In these situations more important will be your personal relationships and networks. The majority of people in sales types of roles are usually the ones in the industry who can't make money so they're sitting behind a brand or credentials to gather assets.

 

Anyways I passed level 1 by just doing the sample exams/tests. Hope that helps. Didn't really read the textbooks (I don't have time!!).

 

 

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