Sunday, July 4, 2010

Struggles Of A Wannabe Chartered Financial Analyst

Studying CFA is kind of invigorating -as long as I don't think about how daunting it is to give an exam which has a 33% pass rate *gulp*. Finishing one of these gargantuan tomes fills me with an immense sense of pride, haha. Normally, I am awful at remembering quotes, but this Chinese saying has left an indelible impact on my mind- 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.' And so, I remind myself of this adage and toil on, much like the pilgrims in Paul Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, waiting for the day my heavy burden tumbles off and set me free. However, there are five more books to go and loads of questions to solve for practice. I really really really want to clear this, more than anything else in the world *crossed fingers*.
This journey of five months and seventeen hours began with an important discovery- how to use a financial calculator. It was akin to writing with a pen for the first time, and I experienced the same sense of awe and wonder and grown-up-ness as I dusted off the calculator, coughed, and slid back the cover with a satisfying click.

I was poring over the FRA book, looking at a solved example on how to calculate the present value of a bond. Try as I may, I just couldn't figure out how in the world that stupid bulky montrosity of a calculator could help me obtain PMT. I furiously jabbed the PMT button a number of times (the manual did mention durable keys), but to no avail. I texted a couple of friends, whose instructions weren't of much help. I entered various values, and then realized that the values had to be entered first, and then the related buttons had to be punched in. I was making some progress, yay! I alternately punched in the CMPT button and the PMT button, but to no avail. So much for trying to follow instructions from SchweserNotes, I thought bitterly.

Suddenly, a random combination of button-pressing produced the right answer. My pulse quickened. I rapidly tried to conjure up the same number on the screen trying to remember what I had pressed. And I realized that it wasn't the FRA book that was dumb. It had been me all along
I had thought pressing either CMPT or PMT would give me the answer. Little had I thought that CMPT meant COMPUTE, and was not an alternative name for PAYMENT or PMT. And that was exactly what the FRA book had been urging me to do by stating that CMPT -> PMT.

This was my moment of epiphany, the golden hour when I was meant to shout Eureka and prance about the room as if I was high on Red Bull. However, my happiness was short-lived. After tackling a bunch of questions dealing with present value, I realized that I also needed to know how to calculate IRR for a series of cashflows. Using the darned financial calculator. Blegh. So much for pretending that figuring out the financial calculator was like getting neuroscience.


The One and Only Roxie said...

I don't envy you one bit. Taking that test sounds dreadful and arduous, especially since I'm not very good at mathematics.

I wish you lots of luck on the exam!! You'll be in the 33%! You can do it!

Saira Hassan said...

WHAT?!!! 33% dat not even half!!!
ok, this is NOT helping MK!
plus i still havnt bought an FC

MK said...

Haha, thanks Roxie. The math part isn't too complicated, it's just that the course is really lengthy :S

@Sairah: lol, don't worry! it was just a matter of pressing the right button, you see.

zubairhumayun said...

33% was the lowest so far.. no?

MK said...

No idea...Zain told me that was the average :S

Farooq Shaikh said...

December 2009 Exam had the lowest pass rate in the near history.:P
I can soo relate to this.I even had CFA related Dreams during the last month before the exams.:P

Farooq Shaikh said...

and its not certified, its "Chartered"

MK said...

Oops...haan ek hi baat :P

Alpha Za said...

haha, I sort of know what you're going through. i definitely needed a tutorial in the calculator. I took the CFA level 1 this past june and passed it, so as long as you devote the time, you should be able to do well come december.

I actually wrote a post with some tips and strategies that really helped me prepare and ultimately succeed.

Best of Luck. Hope this helps