Excited by a delivery I received a few weeks ago whose packaging better resembled that of a fridge than what I would have expected of a curriculum for the CFA, I now find myself stunned by the realisation that weekends are out of stock until December if I wish to pass the CFA.
As I discussed in my CFA Level One study plan, I do not have a finance background short of a bit financial mathematics and general knowledge about particular areas. I hadn’t intended to be able to cruise through the CFA as everyone that I had spoken to had suggested that it was one of the most challenging courses out there. Having said this, I was not expecting the full extent of the enormity of information that I will need to take in before December in order to have a chance on the day.
For those out there who are considering having a go at passing level one of the CFA, consider this: 18 topics spread across mathematics, economics, accouting, financial statement analysis, fixed income securities, derivatives, portfolio management and corporate finance. You are allowed to bring a calculator and pens into the exam, but are not allowed notes or formula sheets or any other aids. You then have 6 hours to answer 240 questions spread across all these topics.
My most relevant initial reflections on my study so far include:
- I have decided that reading all the CFAI Curriculum (3000+ pages) that they sent in the Fridge packaging is simply not possible by December in addition to working 40 hours a week and staying sane. I have decided to use the Schewser course notes, video series and audio files as planned.
- The Schweser Video series that I got my hands on are particularly helpful and I am finding it makes the information much easier to take in if I watch the video, take notes about the concepts in the video at the same time and then read the Schweser course material following this.
- The Audio files that discuss each topic in a question / answer manner, whilst being mindnumbingly monotonous, are very helpful and are good to listen to on the way to work. Especially when combined with my iPhone.
- Ensuring that I think about at least one or two topics every day is important to ensure I committ recently learned information to long-term memory and to stay on top of things. My skiing trip to New Zealand today should make this interesting.
- The prereading that is required for Economics and Financial Statement Analysis (i.e accounting) is looking like it is actually going to be required. I was hoping this would not be the case but it does appear I will have to start at the bottom. This is going to be a challenge!
- The first two books which include Quantitative Methods, Economics and Ethics have so far been relatively straight forward short of my lack of a foundation in economics.
- In particular, Ethics will be very straightforward I believe (helped by my legal background I think).
- Quantitative methods will just be like throwing in first year university advanced maths and stats degree and will be tough but definately doable. I am not yet far enough into Economics to make a judgment.
I plan to continue giving updates about my progress as I continue into to CFA information vault so please sign up to my RSS feed (www.jamescox.com.au/feed). Here is an updates CFA level one exam – 4 days before it.
If anyone else in Sydney is doing the CFA exam in December 2008, get in touch with me if you so wish