Related: “A slideshow of me raising my hand in class” [@tyrabanks, earlier]

  • 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 … Read more »

Are you an asset manager looking to do some hiring? Have you interviewed a bunch of so-so candidates but have chosen to hold out for you dream employee, as unlikely as it might be that one person would possess all you desire? Does your list include:

1) A guy who will make you and your clients “$$$”

2) A CFA charterholder

3) Someone who is not just going to sit at his desk throwing the term socialist around but will actively do his part to get rid of the so-called socialists running the country, through his freelance writing gigs, mostly

4) An email address that makes a statement

…? Then your Christmas 2012 hath come early. Read more »

As it turns out, the only piece of commenter advice on taking the CFA Level I Exam that I actually followed was “don’t have lunch at Headquarters, the strip club across the street from the Javits Center.” Initially, I wasn’t sure about this advice. When I left the Javits Center for lunch, a part of me felt that I owed it to myself, to Bess, and to our readers to have my CFA lunch at a strip club. But after spending two hours in a shabby cavernous room with terrible lighting surrounded by bored and disillusioned people unhappily doing things that they had memorized but didn’t really feel in their hearts, I couldn’t have handled a second-rate strip club.

So I went to a Mexican place in Chelsea and had a nice lunch surrounded by fully clothed people. To make sure that exam conditions closely replicated my successful practice exam, I also had two reasonably strong margaritas. That, plus my watch stopping in the middle of lunch, added a little excitement to my walk back to the Javits Center.

I can’t really tell you whether not going to Headquarters was good advice, since I didn’t do a controlled experiment. I suspect it was, and I arrived back at the Javits Center cheerful, refreshed, and swaying slightly. In any case, here are some other hard-won insights for those of you considering the CFA:
Read more »

I’m back. Did I miss anything?

My imaginary CFA results are mid-80% area for both the morning and afternoon sessions. That sounds like it predicts a pass on Saturday, though probably not at a 95% level of significance. (Does it? I have no idea.) The effect of 1 drink before / 1 during the afternoon is hard to discern although there were more wrong answers towards the end of the afternoon session than at the beginning. Also I was heartily sick of it by the end. Are there really II more levels of this thing? Do they have more stuff on them? That seems excessive.

Now I’m not going to run afoul of ethics guidelines by discussing anything on the mock exam, or real exam, or anywhere else. (Also, this is important: CFA Institute, if you’re reading this, we’re just kidding about the whole guaranteeing returns thing.) But the sense I get is that people find the ethics section particularly daunting, which, COME ON PEOPLE, you are not doing much for public perceptions of your industry. Nonetheless, as a public service for those taking the test on Saturday and looking to sharpen your skills, here’s an extra practice ethics question suggested by a reader. Read more »

  • 30 Nov 2011 at 12:33 PM

And Now Some Mockery

I am now going to take a mock CFA exam. In order to replicate actual testing conditions as closely as possible without leaving my apartment, I will do the following:

1. Spend 2 hours* on the first session (120 questions)
2. Lunch, beer
3. Spend 2 hours on the second session (120 questions). Another beer.
4. Check answers, post results
5. Mockery. Another beer.

The CFA’s commitment to “past performance does not reflect future results” extends to its own products, sayingPerformance on a mock exam should not be used in any way to predict performance on the actual exam.” But you and I know better. So tell me:
Read more »

  • 29 Nov 2011 at 6:35 PM

The OCC And I Work Hard To Guarantee Investment Returns

This is shaping up to be CFA week for me, and with my impending triumph/humiliation I’ve pretty much stopped thinking about much else. I’ve also stopped reading about much else, putting aside Trotsky temporarily to focus on those six stupid books. Yesterday was corporate finance – I can now unlever and relever betas like a champ – and portfolio management, which I got about halfway through before falling asleep. Today is equity and fixed income. The end is in sight!

But there’s still occasionally time to think about blast-from-the-past favorite topics, like the slow-motion disaster that is the US regulatory effort to end official reliance on ratings agencies. The latest is the OCC, which released a proposed rule today that will change the definition of “investment grade” securities, which banks can invest in, from “rated in one of the four highest rating categories by two or more NRSROs” to this: Read more »