• 24 Jan 2012 at 10:27 AM

Let’s Talk About: CFA Level I Results

Thirty-eight percent of the December™ Level I™ test-takers test-takers learn by email today that they’re one step closer to being able to guarantee investment results. As for your humble correspondent … he passed. Go team!

The good news: For 38% of you, this is the first step on a 4-year road to spectacular wealth and professional fulfillment. For me … struggling a bit. I’m not sure that 1/3rd of a CFA credential + blogging experience is the the first step on a 4-year road to anywhere anyone would particularly want to be, though as an experiment we’re going to start a Dealbreaker Investing Tips newsletter, slap CFA logos all over it, and charge $600 a month to subscribe. The main advantage for me is not having to write a post saying “I failed, have at it!”

The bad news: For 62% of you, this is the first step on a … 6-month road …. to taking Level I again? Or just give up? I don’t know, missing out on this particular prize doesn’t seem life-ruining, unless you did something dumb like predicting your likelihood of success to the internet. For me … does this mean I need to do two more of these? Because, that sucks. I’m sort of assuming that I can get by at Level II with somewhat less diligence than I devoted to Level I – true? Surely with Level I to weed out the no-hopers and Level III to maintain the high standards of Charterholdering™ with its, ugh, essays, Level II is just a soft creamy middle filled with fees for the Institute. But then they go and fail 57% of Level II takers, which seems harsh.

Anyway, the floor is yours: share your happiness/sadness/freaking out at passing/failing/not having received your email yet, or, if Level I is just a fond memory for you, give me advice on whether passing Level II will require me to ruin a whole week of my summer.

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Comments (157)

  1. Posted by Bandersnatch | January 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Congrats Matt

  2. Posted by Anonymous | January 24, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    congrats Matt

  3. Posted by Disgruntled Oil | January 24, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Hi, I'm Matt Levine and I'm in the 38%.

    Doesn't make your dick any bigger, son. I was fucking Trinidadian hookers on an oil tanker in the seventies for Marc Rich when your little exam was taking off.

  4. Posted by Richlams | January 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Level II requires a whole lot more study time. If you studied hard for Level I, then study triple hard for level II. Trust me, I've been there. I thought it will be easy so I slacked off. Now I'm joining the retakers club. Anyway, congrats on your achievement!!!

  5. Posted by Anonymous | January 24, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Glad they are making this harder again.

  6. Posted by Nonbeliver | January 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    How about posting your results Matt?

  7. Posted by Alt_EST | January 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    [Serious post]

    Level II is much different. Level I is basically, "Were you conscious while studying?" It is almost entirely conceptual, as I'm sure you noticed. As opposed to being asked to DO something, Level I asked you HOW TO do something (I used my calculator solidly less than 20 times in the whole thing).

    Level II is, from what I've heard and experienced from studying so far, much more valuation and doing. It still requires memorizing probably-useless things (current rate vs. temporal method currency translation, pension accounting…anyone?), but now you have to do them as well.

    Some probably need the CFA for bigger and/or better things (or just bump in pay), but honestly Matt, you worked at GS and have a ton of industry experience. I can't envision a situation where you get to an interview and they say no thanks because you didn't complete the CFA. The CFA is, from my point of view anyway, so people can go do the stuff you've already done.

    Then again, summer camp sounds awesome.

  8. Posted by ScottyDoesKnow | January 24, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    That's what she said?

  9. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Congrats, Matt!

    -Corvettekid1969

  10. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Congrats on passing.
    Best quote I ever read comparing Level I to Level II is:
    Level I = Germany's austerity plan for Europe in 2011.
    Level II = Germany's austerity plan for Europe in 1939.

  11. Posted by Nelson Muntz | January 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Ha ha

  12. Posted by I have Great Thighs | January 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I knew you would pass. I just knew it. It was the tear away pants, right? The tear away pants put you over the top. I knew it!

  13. Posted by M_A | January 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    I failed. 7th Band.

    I found the material not uncommonly hard but did not memorize the formulas well and did not dedicate enough time to the practice exams.

    I will say that the exam itself was easier than the practices I was stubbing my toes on (which took forever to do because I didn't know how to go thru).

    I was disenchanted with the test – I don't think I'm taking it again. I don't think its a test of aptitude (since its multiple choice) but rather ability to memorize…which I guess may just be every test.

  14. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    @ Matt,

    Just forget about it. Never going to happen. You are almost guaranteed to have a question about insider trading on the ethics section of either Level II or Level III… And there will be lots and lots of essays… With a time limit! Plus, they are a little bit stingy with the blank paper allowance…

  15. Posted by VonSloneker | January 24, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Congratulations Matt!

    Also, you're going to love this…CFA Institute released new level III testing guidelines changing the essay requirements to include a Russian novel section. You're going to murder it!!

    - Von Sloneker Naipaul

  16. Posted by TheDetailGuy | January 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Second all of the above…Level II is widely regarded as the hardest of the three exams. The higher pass rate occurs because many are weeded out on Level I.

    And would echo the comments about need for the CFA designation. I got mine when I worked at a firm where it is was valued..the firm paid, gave you time to study, etc. Some firms value it, others don't. Seems like a ridiculous amount of work and expense (I assume Bess is not picking up the tab) for someone of your background.

  17. Posted by Texashedge | January 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    MacArthur on every military disaster in history:

    "Too late"

  18. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Level III = America's austerity plan for Japan in 1945?

    - Guy who knows little about the CFA, but who is currently examining his motives

  19. Posted by Whoops | January 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Congrats Matt!

    -Guy who blew off the CFA and kind of regrets it so he will live vicariously through Matt (in this regard only).

  20. Posted by Texashedge | January 24, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Happy CFAs are all alike; every unhappy CFA is unhappy in his own way.

  21. Posted by Bilal | January 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Congrats Matt.

    I am also maintaining my blog http://www.thecfaexperience.com. I would be pleased to learn from your vast experience. Primarily I am sharing my experience over it as I am appearing for Level II this June. Good Luck for your next endeavor. Level II is way much deeper than Level I but that’s what make it a challenge and a learning opportunity.

  22. Posted by loquito13 | January 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Congrats.

    As far as level II is concerened, it was one of the hardest exams i have ever taken. MUCH MUCH harder than LI. Pretty much every single topic is tougher, more detail, more formulas, and harder to apply. Not to mention the format of the exam makes it much more difficult. Some advice – if you are going for LII this summer, start studying tomorrow. Enjoy today, but you'll be happy you started as early as possible.

    Not trying to discourage you from taking it, in fact you should go for it. Just from personal experience, LII is very tough. I passed LI Dec 2010 and LII in June 2011, and it was a rough 10 months. GL!

  23. Posted by OPS Analyst | January 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Great. Six more months of this shit

  24. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    LI, LII, GL = NKI

  25. Posted by TheJokeBriefer | January 24, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Congratulations Matt!

  26. Posted by BessLevin | January 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    You assume incorrectly.

  27. Posted by Mr. Positive | January 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Quit beating yourself up.

    Warren Buffett doesn't hold a CFA. To be successful as he is you need time and a the ability to grow a revenue stream without really needing bank loans.

  28. Posted by TheDetailGuy | January 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Kudos to you then!

  29. Posted by CFA | January 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I want proof Matt, and I want it yesterday!

  30. Posted by Man O Man! | January 24, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Oh yeah….tell me about the paper issue! I carbed up on burritos before I took the Level I.

  31. Posted by loquito13 | January 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Level I + Level II + Good Luck = ???? whats NKI

  32. Posted by Im_a_Dude | January 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    congrats Matt. looks like those midday tequila martinis helped.

  33. Posted by FKAFinkNottle | January 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    We at the firm of Tolstoy, Tolstoy and Pushkin would like to hire you. Please send HR a resume with a cover letter written in iambic heptameter.

  34. Posted by Matt's Mom | January 24, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Matt I'm so Proud of you, my little boy is growing up.

  35. Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Damn, that's one fine sugar momma!

  36. Posted by loquito13 | January 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Whats NKI?

  37. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Non-kibitzable interjection?

  38. Posted by guest | January 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Presumably it's coming out of Dealbreaker's pocket and not hers but same diff/no diff.

  39. Posted by Pinky | January 24, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    You too?

  40. Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    My scenario is more fun and I like fun!

  41. Posted by Fogged Up Windows | January 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Amazing…..it's harder to get to second base than it was to get to first base, too.

    -Kincaid School Senior

  42. Posted by JDOT | January 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Prove it.

  43. Posted by TomTerrific | January 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    At least people will stop talking about the Giants in a couple weeks. We have two more levels of Matt's test taking to suffer through.

  44. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    No kowtowing involved?

  45. Posted by Brain Sensei | January 24, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    CFA Haiku:

    The test was quite hard.
    What capital do I have?
    Intellectual.

  46. Posted by Put_Option | January 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Nothing more stimulating than understanding and utilizing Monte Carlo to simulate potential interest rate paths while incorporating interest rate volatility. And binomial trees? Probably about as fun as finding out an employee 'released' himself in your water bottle.

  47. Posted by NKI Patrol | January 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    "what's NKI" = the NKI

  48. Posted by You Must Be New | January 24, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Shorthand for "New Killing It"

    -DealBreaker Welcome Wagon

  49. Posted by Mike | January 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Wohoo.. look at that Matt.. you have your own group of blow jobbers who are falling over each other to congratulate you on your trivial achievement. Enjoy it.

  50. Posted by Cat Fancier Assoc'n | January 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    According to the 2011 financials of the CFA Institute, the CFA institute has $22mm of operating revenue. It has about 450 employees according to its web site. Clearly they spend a bunch of money on marketing, but if even 2/3 of their operating revenue goes to compensation, then they are paying their employees an average of $300,000+. I wonder how that compares to CFA charterholders…

  51. Posted by Matt Fan | January 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Congrats, Matt. Please take LII and drink more at lunch, I went back and reread your previous posts and all comments. Fun stuff.

  52. Posted by Cat Fancier Assoc'n | January 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I mean $211mm in operating revenue, sorry, I relied on an AIG quant to crunch those numbers.

  53. Posted by VonSloneker | January 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Why couldn't Mark Rich fuck his own hookers? What an unusual consulting role…

    - Sheldon Cooper

  54. Posted by CSB guy | January 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Cool story bro…

  55. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    The calc of 300k avg comp above is consistent with what I've heard – family friend works there, it is a very sweet place to work (high comp, loads of vacation, first class travel to overseas events, etc).

  56. Posted by Fixed Income | January 24, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    North Korean Immigrant

  57. Posted by Guesto | January 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Trademarking December is the NKI

  58. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    There is no such thing; nobody would willingly leave our glorious socialist paradise.

    -Kim Jong-Un

  59. Posted by NKI Cap Compliance | January 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Any idea how a subscription to the Dealbreaker Investing Tips newsletter would factor in to whether one was liable for "sophisticated insider trading" as opposed to regular insider trading?

  60. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Would you say a blow jobber is more like a stock jobber or a rack jobber?

  61. Posted by GUEST | January 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Correctly defining NKI = not the NKI

  62. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Who the fuck drinks a tequila martini?

  63. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Re-reading Matt's posts is the NKI

  64. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Someone who is really desperate/drunk and ran out of everything but tequila and vermouth?

    -Guy who once did warm gin shots in college for a similar reason

  65. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Sounds like we need a chart.

  66. Posted by bwater | January 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    By your logic boss, if i'm at a fund with 50 bill in AUM, We get 2-4 in annual base fees. contributing to a median operating revenue of 1 billion. if we have 450 employees and 2/3 of revenue goes to comp, then each employee gets over a base of 2 million each…. Does each person earn that much? No… Numbers are obviously skewed to the upside. (this is also excluding cap ex)

  67. Posted by CFA Grand Wizard | January 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    This is an essay question on Level III.

  68. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    How many weeks did it take you?

  69. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Depends on the Gianna to Bess info pipeline

  70. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    +20.

  71. Posted by E. Texas Gas Trader | January 24, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    They are quite good. We call em Mexican Martinis. They go for $10.00 at Treasures if the El Paso folk ain't drivin up the price at the time.

  72. Posted by Ship Channel | January 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Mike, I am ashamed of you. Such low cunning in your choice of words. The last time you wrote "group of blow jobbers" and "trivial achievement", wasn't that in your cover letter about getting a job with Enron?

  73. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Books, writers, product development, temporary workers and locations 2x a year all over the world not to mention the 1 expense line you considered.

  74. Posted by cfa III candidate | January 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    level 2 demanded more prep than level 1, for myself and for most cfa-examinees i know

  75. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    I don't believe there's a chance in hell you only studied for a week and passed. One of those two things is bullshit.

    Assuming it's the former, congrats.

  76. Posted by Charterholder | January 24, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Must echo everyone's comments on the increase in difficulty from LI to LII. I'd budget 2.5 weeks of studying.

  77. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Is this that prick from above the law whose name seems to be escaping me? If so, promptly fuck off.

    If not, then fuck off in a reasonable amount of time.

  78. Posted by Greg | January 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Congrats Mat. I am also a Level I passer as of this morning, but just barely. Its going to take a gigantic leap starting soon to be able to pass Level II in June. But this definitely gives a big boost in motivating me to work hard for the next one. Good luck.

  79. Posted by stickler for details | January 24, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    that would be NKE but who's correcting

  80. Posted by prick | January 24, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    CSB
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  81. Posted by guest | January 24, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    WE WANT PROOF

  82. Posted by brochacho, cfa | January 24, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Everyone says L2 is the hardest. I thought L3 was the hardest, but the volume of material is much smaller so studying for it is easier, if that makes sense. But you're correct, L2 is much harder than L1.

    I tend to think the CFA is a good thing to do no matter what. You always have it as something you can sell. I used it to get my second job after banking and then by pitching it differently used it to get into business school. I work in PE where it's not particularly valued, but I never sat back and thought geez, I wish I hadn't done that. If you're capable of doing it, I say go for it.

  83. Posted by LIKEABOSS | January 24, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Ah now it is clear why Romney hesitated to release his taxes: HE'S UNEMPLOYED AND RICH AS FUCK

    Hasn't been in politics in over 5 years and hasn't been at Bain in over a decade, yet clocks $21,661,344 a year. Unreal.

  84. Posted by brochacho | January 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Can we change that to a "commercially reasonable" amount of time?

    - prick lawyer

  85. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 24, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Ummm— wtf does that have to do with the CFA Level I?

  86. Posted by Nostalgic Guest | January 24, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    That you, Blanus?

  87. Posted by LIKEABOSS | January 24, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    It has EVERYTHING to do with CFA Level I.

    (Or I accidentally posted in the wrong column. Like a boss.)

  88. Posted by TheodoreBallgamePhD | January 24, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Pretty sure "unemployed" only applies to the broke. In this case, he's "retired."

  89. Posted by Visual kind of guy | January 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Pics or it didn't happen?

  90. Posted by PaulAllen | January 24, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    @ M_A

    Of course it's not an apptitude test; you're not taking the SAT or an IQ exam you dumbfuck. Are you retarded?

  91. Posted by Kouwe | January 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Should I have taken CFA Level 1? Would it all have been different?

  92. Posted by ireadsogood | January 24, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Sir, I believe you intended to reference the latter and not the former. Congrats, Matt.

  93. Posted by guest | January 24, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    YA MATT, PROVE IT

  94. Posted by Elliot Rosewater | January 24, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    hurrah hurrah.

  95. Posted by The Reply Nazi | January 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    How about using the Reply button? Mmmmmmmmkay?

  96. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Kill yourself

  97. Posted by Guest | January 24, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Great job Matt

  98. Posted by Dink | January 24, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Congrats. Can't wait to grade your L3 essays that are 10,000 words plus a hand drawn chart

    -exam grader CFA institute

  99. Posted by Patrick. | January 25, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Level 2 was the hardest exam I've ever taken

    Somehow I passed all 3 on the first try, but I must have been the low-water mark on thqt year's level 2

    Level 1 was simple. Finished the second half after only 45 minutes. But I studied for weeks in advance.

    Level 3 was not difficult, but tbere is no way to pass it w/o a big time commitment.

  100. Posted by Sherman McCoy | January 25, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    Despite the fact that a CFA designation does not prove any competence in the art of investing(for that matter, neither does a Phd, Myron), it is a hard exam that many give up on and few pass. You're doing your bit to line the pockets of the CFA organaization, and perpetuating the myth that you should trust a certified CFA with your wealth the same way you'd trust a board certified surgeon with your life.

    Well done!

  101. Posted by barman | January 25, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Read the books, show up and write the exam. Pass. I don't want to hear anything else.

  102. Posted by Mike | January 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    Well Matt, now we can put a number to that group as well.. it is 48.

  103. Posted by takloo | January 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    assuming one doesn't have industry experience, level II is more difficult than levels 1 and 3… lots of material and you need to be interested in the material otherwise there is no way to master it…

    i'm a level 3 candidate and i'm still not sure why I'm doing it…

  104. Posted by Sherman McCoy | January 26, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    You're doing it because you would be unemployable in the asset management field without one-that's a pretty valid reason. I took it 20 years ago, that ethics section is a B1TCH!

    Barman, if it was easy for you, that probably means you're too intelligent for the business. Consider changing careers – academia needs more people like you!

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  107. Posted by level III candidate | June 13, 2012 at 3:37 AM

    as a fellow candidate (wrote level III in June)I just wanted to congratulate you, it is definitely challenging.

    However, I feel the need to note that the program is not meant for you to "guarantee investment results" as your indicated above. This is a clear contradiction to the code of ethics of the program. With that in mind, good luck on level II as you apparently need it.

  108. Posted by TAT | July 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM

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