MBA v CFA

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 »

Regular Dealbreaker readers know that we spend a lot of time around these parts having the CFA v. MBA debate. Which is most beneficial? Which is worth your time? Which has the highest NPV? Today brings a point in favor of the b-school track, courtesy of Columbia. While business school may offer more opportunities to get drunk, sleep with your fellow students, and take a break from the working world, it costs considerably more money than CFA books, requires you to go to class if you care about grades, and causes a considerable amount stress vis-à-vis going on interview and impressing potential employers. But what if we told you that there was a way to go to business school and not have to worry about all that? Would that be something you’d be interested? Would it tip the scales toward MBA in your mind? Enter, the Sponsored Student designation, wherein one’s employer pays for their schooling and keeps a job lined up for them at the end. A wildcard, if you will, in the CFA v. MBA debate. According to an informational video put together by a group of Columbia students, as a Sponsored, looking porn in class will be your “smallest transgression” (on the rare occasions you go to class), “drawing a picture of [your] dick” will be an acceptable answer on a leadership final, and “deep-diving” in someone else’s girl will count as your core competency. Let’s learn more. 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:
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  • 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 »

  • 28 Nov 2011 at 6:50 PM

Things I Did Not Know About The CFA Exam

Attentive readers may recall that a while back I signed up to take the CFA Level I exam, in order to (1) pursue my passion for standardized testing,(2) expose the secret behind-the-scenes workings of America’s trillion-dollar financial-analysis-certification business, and (3) have a major institution to stand behind my guarantees of consistent above-market investment returns. I wrote a post about it, and then mostly forgot all about it.

Thinking that the exam might be sometime in December, I looked into it a bit more this weekend. Here are some things that I learned that I didn’t previously know, though you might have:

1. The exam is given using pencil and paper at the Javits Center. I had vague visions of the anonymous computer lab where you take the Series 7 on computers from the mid-1980s. Now I have to go buy pencils.

2. All of its contents. Actually I’d read maybe 100 pages of the ethics reading but then I got bored and stopped.

3. It’s this Saturday. Oops! Read more »

  • 03 Nov 2011 at 2:09 PM

If He Could Turn Back Time…If He Could Find A Way

In 2003, things were going pretty well for Todd J. Remis. Great, even. The equity research analyst had left Warburg Pincus Asset Management to found Hygrove Partners LLC, he was living the good life in New York City and he’d recently married Latvia native Milena Grzibovska. The wedding was an intimate affair that included less than 40 guests and took place at Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown. A proud husband, Remis sent a photo of the happy couple to his alma mater for inclusion in its newsletter, for all his former Bowdoin College classmates to see.

Fast forward six years, and things were going less swimmingly for Todd. For starters, the Chicago Booth grad’s marriage had hit the skids, with a separation in 2008 and an official divorce by 2010. Additionally, he was unemployed, having been laid off or fired from his job at Legg Mason’s ClearBridge Advisors. And with that kind of loss and time on his hands, Todd wanted nothing more than to sit around looking at photos of memories past, specifically of the day he married Milena. Only Todd couldn’t do that, could he? At least not in the way he wanted to, which was by going through the photos chronologically, very beginning to very end, from Milena getting dressed to the bouquet toss to the last dance, laughing, crying, wiping his tears with each shot, laying down naked on a pile of them scattered on the bathroom floor and remembering how he felt that day. The reason he couldn’t do that? Because someone FUCKED Todd, good and hard. And the more Todd thought about it, the more he decided that he had to make that person pay. Read more »