CFA camp hopefuls

  • 29 Jul 2014 at 11:07 AM

Let’s Talk About: CFA Results

On a Saturday in June, men and women around took a couple of tests. They were the Level I and II of the CFA and while outsiders, family members, MBA grads and the like would never understand how much these exams meant, test-takers knew all too well. Hundreds of hours of studying. Thousands of dollars in test prep books and classes. Social lives sacrificed. Memorial Day weekends uncelebrated. Relationships with neighbors on the receiving end of multiple requests to “Shut the hell up in there I’m trying to study!” more than a little be strained. Episodes of Ladies of London never watched. The downside would be that it was all for nothing. The up? The thrill of one day putting those three little letters next to their name.

The ensuing weeks have undoubtedly been torture. Going over the answers in one’s mind and then going over them again. Comparing notes with a friend only to find you put down the exact opposite, comforting yourself with the knowledge that this guy is the dumbest person you know, only to wake up in a cold sweat with the terrifying thought that he might be an idiot savant whose brilliance lies in taking standardized tests about asset valuation, financial reporting and analysis, and portfolio management techniques.

So while today, and the days leading up, have been full of nerves, it also brings sweet relief. No more second-guessing. No more excusing yourself during conference calls to go throw up. No more alienating your friends by trying and failing to explain to them the concept of CFA Camp.

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To most of the world, June 7th is just another summer Saturday. To those sitting for the Level I, II, or III CFA exams, it’s the day that determines if months of sacrificing their personal and professional lives– and in many cases, general standards of hygiene– in exchange for study time paid off. For those taking I and II, successful performances will dictate if they buy the books for II and III, or slink back to their old test prep rooms as if nothing happened. Those who pass III will be one step closer to mecca. Read more »

Back in December men and women across the globe sat down to take the first exam in a series of exams that they hoped would, one day in the distant future, allow them to place three little letters next to their name, on their business card, email signature, linkedin profile, and maybe even cock: CFA. In practice it would stand for Chartered Financial Analyst, but in theory, oh, in theory, it would mean so much more.

In the weeks since, they’ve tried to put their test out of their minds. Focus. Be in the present. Not agonize over their answer to the question:

Sammy Sneadle, CFA, is the founder and portfolio manager of the Everglades Fund. In its first year the fund generated a return of 30 percent. Building on the fund’s performance, Sneadle created new marketing materials that showed the fund’s gross 1-year return as well as the 3 and 5-year returns which he calculated by using back-tested performance information. As the marketing material is used only for presentations to institutional clients, Sneadle does not mention the inclusion of back-tested data. According to the Standards of Practice Handbook, how did Sneadle violate CFA Institute Standards of Professional Conduct?

Trying not to think about how they’d done was a fool’s mission, of course, as was attempting not to let their mind wander during particularly boring conference calls, about how they’d react upon receiving a passing score. They’d want to be humble, sure, but a confident humble. After all some of their friends probably would not be so lucky and they’d want to come off as sensitive, even though internally they’d be screaming “Hosanna!” from the mountaintops.

Waking up this morning, however, a sobering thought passed over them: what if they failed? What if the hours, days, weeks, and months spent planning were all for naught? What if the money spent was money down the toilet? What if the significant blows to their personal lives were made in vain? What if they had to return to CFA test prep school with their tails between their legs? What if the week they’d blocked off in their Outlook calendar for CFA Camp 2018 was premature? Read more »

For 49% of the June test takers, this is the greatest day of your lives. You have spent years chasing after those three little letters. You have sacrificed time, sleep, relationships, and money. Money not just spent on books and prep courses but on the jacket sitting in the back of your closet, still in the garment bag, with the gold stitching on the breast pocket. “You want it to say what after the name?” the guy in the store asked? “C-F-A,” you said. “All caps.” “What’s CFA,” he wanted to know. “It’s designation, for investment and finance professionals,” you told him. “It’s three little letters that give confidence to investors worldwide.”

“Oh, kind of like a CPA?”

“No not like a CPA at all. This is…so much more.”

You knew you were jumping the gun getting the coat before you’d even taken the Level III exam, but you just couldn’t stop yourself. And it’s not like you wore it around town. It just sat there, behind a bunch of crap. Somehow just knowing it was there gave you hope and on nights when you needed a little extra motivation to finish a particularly grueling practice test, unzipping the bag and running your finger across the crushed velvet lapel and over the fine buttons helped get you through it. Read more »