Thursday, January 5, 2012

Le CFA

Greetings and Happy Almost Friday!

As I mentioned in my 2012 Goals post last week, one of my goals for 2012 is to pass Level II of the CFA.  I have mentioned the CFA quite a bit on my blog, but I haven't really explained what it is, and since I get questions from time to time, I thought I'd do a post about it!

The Books

 
 
Those are the books.  I have 2 sets - the CFA Institute books on the left, and the Schweser supplemental materials on the right.  The supplemental books have "professor tips" in them that tell you what to focus on, but the main reason I get them is because they come with about 6 practice exams and an online program with tons of sample questions and case studies.

The Material & Study Schedule

The material is broken down into 9 main topics, and then further broken down into 18 study sessions, which are further broken down into readings.  The 9 main topics covered are Ethical & Professional Standards, Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Finance, Equity & Alternative Investments, Fixed Income, Derivatives, and Portfolio Management.


It's far from easy (see above equation, that's an example of one of the equations I studied this week).  But it's doable, with hard work and dedication.  I have had to let go of my expectations for how fast I will get through the material - it's painstakingly slow to get through some of it - for instance, on Monday I spent 5.5 hours going through a 48 page reading and the 30-40 associated problems...  I feel like I could possibly read a BOOK in 5.5  hours.  I usually try to study 3-4 week nights for 1-2 hours, and then 4-6 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  They CFA Institute recommends 15-20 hours/week, and that is about what I average each week. It's grueling as I will follow that study schedule from now until I take the test on June 2nd.  But at least I am studying during the least desirable weather conditions in Minnesota - studying in the summer or fall would be WAY WORSE. 

My Outlook 

Last year, I did not handle the stress of studying well - AT ALL.  I was really down and depressed, because a) it was extremely isolating to spend so much time in my condo alone, studying, and b) I felt like there was a strong chance I wouldn't pass because I struggled to retain information as I progressed through the material.


This year will be better.  It has to be.  It will help that I now live in an area where I can walk to the library or a coffee shop if I need to be around people.  My goal is to study at the library on the weekends as the change of scenery will be good for me, I think.  On days when I do study at home, I can play the piano when I need a study break, which will make a huge difference.  It will also help that I don't have an hour long commute home - instead I have a 20 minute walk, which means I'll have plenty of time to get a work out in and start studying by 6:30.  And last, but not least, I will have the confidence of passing the Level I to draw from when I start to get discouraged.

I'm nervous for level II as the format will be different from level I.  The pass rate is just as low as level I (36-40% pass, on average)  It features case studies with multiple choice questions instead of individual MC questions like level I.  There are half as many questions, so each one counts more.  The material is more difficult.  But I will work as hard as I can and hopefully, come July, I'll be celebrating another pass! 

The CFA program is BY FAR the most difficult thing I've ever committed myself to. But it's my CHOICE to do this - no one is forcing me; I am going to keep that in mind when I feel tempted to complain about it.  It's really important to my career and when it's all said & done, it will be so worth all the time and effort I'm putting into it. 

What is the hardest thing you've ever committed yourself to? 

25 comments:

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Man oh man, I could never do this, but you are awesome for doing it :) I'm glad you have a plan for not feeling so crazy during the second studying session. That is definitely a long time to maintain that plan. I have to assume that the reason the pass rate is so low is because most people are simply not that disciplined. I could maintain that study schedule for maybe a month or two, but five would probably be impossible for me. Then again, that practice problem looked like Chinese to me so clearly this whole thing would not be for me :) I think my first year teaching was probably the hardest thing I committed myself to haha, not that I really had a choice to stop doing it! Getting my masters while still working was hard at times too but I was able to get a lot done on weekend mornings and it didn't seem that bad at the time. Now when I look back I'm like, how did I do that?!

abbi said...

That's a huge commitment to take on and very admirable that you are doing so. I'm not sure I'd want to take that on, but then again, like you said, it's your choice and something you want. I'm sure it will be well worth it in your career as well! Just not sure I have the concentration to study like that since I have studied anything in so long!

imlivinginadream said...

This is the most intense study regimen ever! That's basically worse than University (depending how many classes you take, but you've definitely got a bigger workload than I do right now)... What IS CFA though exactly? Like why do you need it for your job?

Good luck lady, I'm rooting for you!

Becky said...

I know you have to do this for your job, but I admire your commitment to it so much, that I've broken it down into three topics: strength, willpower, and awesome. I've further broken that down into three sub-topics you might need: encouragement, dedication, and knowing you will pass. (This was a lot funnier in my head, but I'm also really tired).

It's a lot of work but you're going to ROCK it! :)

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

Big commitment, but you've done it (and well) before so you will surely succeed again. I'm impressed with the amount of time you put in!

B and B said...

Your new study conditions will be a vast improvement for you! Good luck as you start this "adventure."

missris said...

Wow I am so impressed! You are such a hard worker! The hardest thing I've ever done was study for the GRE. I was only working part-time at the time and needed to get a really good score to get into grad school. I started studying in July and took the test in October. Just like you, I had a schedule where I studied every day, and longer on weekends. I took a practice test every two weeks, and did quizzes and online components during the week. It definitely paid off as I scored very well and got into an excellent school, but it was extremely hard work and LOTS of studying and memorization. I'm in awe that you're working even harder! Although I have no doubt that you are going to totally ace the exam!!

Raquelita said...

Good luck with your studying! It sounds like you are taking a sensible and healthy approach to it.

By far the most challenging thing I've ever committed to doing was getting my PhD. It took years: coursework, exams, over a year of doing research in archives and libraries abroad, writing, writing, writing, revising, and more writing. There were times when I felt lost, for sure.

Stephany said...

For some reason, I thought you had to have this for your job. So even MORE kudos for doing this to further your career just because. Whoa. Not sure I could do that! I'm not sure I even want to get my Master's at this point. I'm enjoying my freedom wayyyy too much right now, hehe. :)

You can totally do this! You are so diligent with your studying and I know it will pay off.

That equation you posted makes me itchy. I am not a math person AT ALL! Eep.

Carolina John said...

wow, yea that really does sound hard. Ironman is the hardest thing I've ever committed to. Training for 15 hours a week for 8 months is close to how much time you'll have to spend studying, right?

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

This time around is ALREADY going to go so much better because you're happier in your living situation. You're so close to the library or Caribou, that you can easily go study there and not feel so isolated. I think this is a great idea!

I have a really hard time studying at home because I get so distracted, so I definitely have my favorite local spots to sit for hours and read/study.

You are going to kick this test's ass and I just know we'll be celebrating another pass in July! I'm definitely keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and hope that the studying is starting off well!

Nora said...

Thanks for giving us more insight into your study schedule and more about the CFA! I think I understand it even more now...

Is it totally lame to think that one of the hardest things I've committed to is being a bonus/step mom? It's really challenging in a completely different way than I thought possible, for a variety of reasons.

As always cheering you on as you progress through CFA studying!

Unprofessional said...

My, oh my!!! I have a feeling you're going to do great!

GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! That was my rule in med school, when I found myself unable to focus. I spent a lot of time (OK most of my time) in the library, so when I found I was having a hard time focusing or getting down on myself, sometimes a trip to the coffee shop would completely change my attitude! The lattes didn't hurt either.

Wishing you the best of luck with this, such a huge endeavor, but it WILL pay off for you in the end!

Ashley said...

I am struggling with the isolation part as well now that I am done with coursework for my degree. I'm a person who likes to be alone, but not all the time, so I have been doing what you're doing and finding new places to study where I'm at least with people even if I'm focused on studying.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I give you so much credit for taking on the CFA. I have friends who tried it multiple times and failed each and every test. You're amazing for setting up a rigorous schedule to get you through the material. I have a ton of confidence that you'll do the best you can, which hopefully means you'll pass Level 2. I honestly don't know if there's anything I've committed to that was truly that hard. I'm not as brave as you are. =)

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

So proud of you for how committed you are to this test and your studying. I know you're going to rock it!

You know, now that you mention it I don't know what the hardest thing I've ever taken on is. I want to say training for the marathon but now looking back it doesn't *sound* that bad. I might be changing what I say in a few months when I'm deep into this training cycle ;)

Jess said...

I can confidently say you are one the smartest people I know! A friend of mine is going through tests that sound pretty similar and they're no joke. Definitely not something I could do. I'm really impressed by your dedication!!

The hardest thing I've ever committed myself to is likely my Masters program. Working full time, having a part time job, volunteering and writing a thesis..I still don't know how I did it!!

Jeanie said...

Those books look a lot less fun than the ones on Paris. I am so impressed with your fortitude, your tenacity and yes, your brains, because I sure couldn't do that. I'm also confident you WILL pass. Bigtime!

crystal said...

Oh boy, those books look boring!! :( It will be worth it in the end though, not only for the career boost, but for the sense of achievement that only something that painstakingly difficult can give!

Hardest thing I have ever committed myself to ~ this damn doctoral degree (obvious answer, I know!), more specifically, the dissertation! It will all be worth it though :)

crystal said...

ps: let me know when you need a study break, I would be happy to walk around your adorable neighborhood with you!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Wow - you are dedicated and hardworking! I am impressed!! I love to surround myself with people like you :-)

I hope you have an amazing year, and that you accomplish everything that you want to.

Leigh said...

You are so dedicated to studying and it is going to pay off again for you Lisa! It might suck while you are studying your life away, but it will be so worth it in the end.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

You are going to do great on this. It sounds like you have pinpointed the problems/issues that you had before and have a good game plan in order to make sure this time you don't get exhausted mentally by this!

I guess the hardest thing I ever did was to work and go to school and still have time for a life (I don't know how!)

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

You're so amazing!! Your dedication to studying is so impressive. I could never do that. Seriously. But that's why you're managing finances and I'm not! :)

pinkflipflops said...

dude, i'd complain all you want. sure it is your choice,but it doesn't make it fun! you got this and i cant wait to drink a drink for you in july in celebration!