Pages

  • Sharebar

This article is originally from 300Hours.com. You can read the full article here.

Warning: this is a ranty post.

This article has a go at well-meaning friends, family and colleagues, whom probably only want the best for me and are just concerned about me when I was tearing my hair out as a CFA candidate.

But sometimes the stuff that people say to me as a CFA candidate makes me want to bash my head against a wall. Or bash theirs instead.

Here are my top 10. What are yours?


#1: "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll pass."
This is by far the number one offender for me. To be fair, this is the default option when you can't really think of anything else to say. Which is usually the case. But still - I've not used this comment for anyone else taking the CFA after taking it myself. Derivatives include:
  • "Oh, you're so smart! You'll do fine."
  • "You always worry about exams and you always do well."

#2: "It's only Level I! It's easy!"
Oh for God's sake, shut up.

This isn't actually restricted to just Level I. Comments I got in Levels II and III include:

  • "It's Level II! You've already passed Level I, so you know you can do it!"
  • "It's Level III! You've already passed 2, it'll be easy!"

#3 : "Oh, the exam isn't until June/Dec, you have PLENTY of time."
I know they're trying to reassure me. But hearing this from someone who's never taken the CFA, I'm gonna think: You have no idea what you're talking about. Hearing this from someone who's taken the CFA before, I'm gonna think: Easy for you to say, you're done. Then proceed to continue freaking out. It's a guaranteed no-win situation.

#4: "You've studied so much already. There's NO WAY you'll fail."
I do beg your pardon, but you don't know what you're talking about. No, strike that, you're right. The ones that failed (more than 50% of them) must have just sat on their asses then.

#5: "Maybe you're overstudying? Be careful not to overstudy."
What the hell is overstudying? Oh, I might score too high, so I should remember to slack off? This makes no sense at all.

#6: "Hey, it's only an exam."
Damn, you're right. Why didn't I realize this before? Why am I bothering with hundreds of hours of studying? Screw this. In fact, why bother with anything at all? It's only 'things'.

#7: "So what're you doing this weekend?"
For the last time, I'm studying. Yes, the same as last weekend, and the weekend after next. You know when the damn exam is.

#8: "You're taking a week off? Just to study?"
Yes, I am. No, it's not an excuse to enjoy myself. Far from it. Believe me, I would rather be working than spending all my time trying to figure out whether Jack LaChance from Jiminy Bob Asset Management should long this put option or short this call option.

If your co-workers are not the CFA-taking type, it can be terrible. Other cheeky remarks I've heard:

  • "Enjoy your time off!"
  • "At least you're going on holiday next week."

#9: (After your study leave and exam) "Had a good rest?"
This is sometimes said with a smug or patronizing tone. If it's right after my exam, I'm usually too exhausted from taking the exams to choke the offending person to death. Other derivatives include:

  • "So how was your holiday?"
  • "Feeling regenerated?"

#10: (If you passed) "See? I KNEW it."
I'm normally so elated from passing that I rarely care about this. But I could cheerfully wring this person's neck anyway.

I know, I know. Almost everyone who says these things to me are people who just want to know if I'm alright. The CFA prep process makes me pretty stressed out and cranky, and takes up loads of my time, so naturally it comes up in conversations. But being in a cranky state of mind is exactly what makes these statements so annoying.

OK, rant over. Do you have your own pet peeves to vent? Let us know!

2 2

Comments (83)

  • oreos's picture

    #1 so much.

    and
    "is your work making you do it?"
    "no"
    "are you qualified to do something you couldn't before?"
    "no"
    "is it free and easy?"
    "no"
    "so why are doing this?"

    ""After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

  • Onetwobit's picture

    all you can say is "that's the plan" or "lets hope"

  • In reply to Onetwobit
    Going Concern's picture

    tmur:
    all you can say is "that's the plan" or "lets hope"

    No bro. When someone says you'll definitely pass, just tell them that you'll definitely fail. It's a classic defense mechanism. Neutralizes the judgement mixture to lukewarm. Also keeps their expectations nice and low. Underpromise and try to overdeliver, and if not then you didn't break your promise!

  • Hayek's picture

    "So you want to be an accountant?"

  • FeelingMean's picture

    "I'm going to be a Certified Financial Analyst"....

    "That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

  • torreador's picture

    How much does CFA cost? - Ridiculous. Its probably priceless.

  • CaR's picture

    Mostly #1, but I hate every single one of these

  • In reply to BTbanker
    oreos's picture

    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    - someone who has never sat a CFA exam


    fixed that for you

    ""After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    "Dude, save yourself the trouble and get an MFE/MSFinMath/MFin"

  • In reply to oreos
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Oreos:
    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    - someone who has never sat a CFA exam


    fixed that for you

    I sat for the CFA. I think there's a lot of different perspectives on this. It is not that useful for people with backgrounds in finance. Or for the bajillions of people with jobs at random accounting firms, working in IT at record companies, etc who take the exam.

    Morgan Stanley Equity Research VP states a superset of what the CFA states about you.

    The CFA will not get you a job. It might get you a promotion.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Going Concern's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Oreos:
    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    - someone who has never sat a CFA exam


    fixed that for you

    I sat for the CFA. I think there's a lot of different perspectives on this. It is not that useful for people with backgrounds in finance. Or for the bajillions of people with jobs at random accounting firms, working in IT at record companies, etc who take the exam.

    Morgan Stanley Equity Research VP states a superset of what the CFA states about you.

    The CFA will not get you a job. It might get you a promotion.

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...

  • In reply to Going Concern
    oreos's picture

    Going Concern:

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...

    look on the CFA program like an undergrad degree, having an undergrad degree wont get you a job, but you have to have it to be considered....

    ""After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

  • Callmeking's picture

    there are way too many opinions and views on what a CFA can give and to be quite frank its getting all too confusing.
    My questions are: will it get you an interview, how long after someones first BA honors can/should it take to complete level 1 and in PSs will the total cost exceed 2000

  • frgna's picture

    My girlfriend to me: "I didn't even know you could work this hard."

    if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

  • In reply to Going Concern
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Oreos:
    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    - someone who has never sat a CFA exam


    fixed that for you

    I sat for the CFA. I think there's a lot of different perspectives on this. It is not that useful for people with backgrounds in finance. Or for the bajillions of people with jobs at random accounting firms, working in IT at record companies, etc who take the exam.

    Morgan Stanley Equity Research VP states a superset of what the CFA states about you.

    The CFA will not get you a job. It might get you a promotion.

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...


    Idunno. Most jobs state that a lot of random things are preferred. Seeking Assembly Developer! Knowledge of Java and Hibernate preferred!

    Given that the CFA is a certification and that there are a lot of things that constitute a superset of said certification, it's definitely not required.

    My advice: focus on getting to the front office, focus on doing the best job you can, focus on competence, and if you have any energy left over, maybe consider the CFAs. (Or consider hang gliding.)

    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    A CFA will not help you get a job in analytics, trading, even research. It might help you get promoted, although 90% of that promotion is going to be about the quality of your work and your reputation for getting stuff done.

  • Solaxun's picture

    99% of people who say that it is "useless" or they "sat for it" are really just speaking in code. What they meant to say is "I tried and failed and now I will tell everybody how useless it is to reassure myself that the exam wasn't worth my time, clearly, I could have passed if I cared". No, no, you couldn't have, which is why you didn't. Go cry to someone else.

  • In reply to Solaxun
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Solaxun:
    99% of people who say that it is "useless" or they "sat for it" are really just speaking in code. What they meant to say is "I tried and failed and now I will tell everybody how useless it is to reassure myself that the exam wasn't worth my time, clearly, I could have passed if I cared". No, no, you couldn't have, which is why you didn't. Go cry to someone else.

    I passed level one after a long grueling week of study and while grinding out a bunch of trading analytics for bond pricing. Then I realized I could do more to get promoted by focusing on my job, and well, I got promoted.

    300 hours is an apt name for someone pushing the CFAs. What could you get done with 300 (900) hours of work rather than study? Chances are, you could get promoted or find a better job. You could probably get your Hang II from the USHPA.

    They're a great educational experience, but for 70% of the people taking the exam, there are much more efficient ways to get ahead.

  • Nakaldun7913's picture

    #1 by far. I hear this all the time from my non-finance friends. Its gotten to the point where, now, I just shrug. Best one I've ever heard though was from a fellow MBA student: "You're taking the CFA right? How bad do you want to kill yourself?"

    As for the CFA debate, no the charter is not a magic ticket to untold riches or willy wonka's factory. But as said by a friend who is an MD/PM managing several funds, "it is the standard, a minimum to get in."

  • In reply to Nakaldun7913
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Nakaldun7913:
    #1 by far. I hear this all the time from my non-finance friends. Its gotten to the point where, now, I just shrug. Best one I've ever heard though was from a fellow MBA student: "You're taking the CFA right? How bad do you want to kill yourself?"

    As for the CFA debate, no the charter is not a magic ticket to untold riches or willy wonka's factory. But as said by a friend who is an MD/PM managing several funds, "it is the standard, a minimum to get in."


    Again, that's for PM. For HFT, the minimum to get in is to just be a competent C++ developer. For equities cash OTC trading, the minimum to get in is to have played lacrosse for a northeastern private school. (Hence why equities OTC trading is a dying business.)

    80% of the people taking the exam are doing it for other reasons than the fact that it's the last step they need to take before heading over to asset management. 50% of the people taking it have absolutely no connection to financial services in their current jobs whatsoever.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    We live in a free country. Take the exam, or don't take the exam.

    If you're a professional, you normally don't complain about your job or your elective educational experiences. When I took the Level 1s, I didn't tell anybody I was taking it until after I had passed. This got me around all of the "annoying comments."

    Then after I noticed how much everyone was complaining about the exam, I realized that there were much more efficient ways to get ahead in this business.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    BTbanker's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Oreos:
    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    - someone who has never sat a CFA exam


    fixed that for you

    I sat for the CFA. I think there's a lot of different perspectives on this. It is not that useful for people with backgrounds in finance. Or for the bajillions of people with jobs at random accounting firms, working in IT at record companies, etc who take the exam.

    Morgan Stanley Equity Research VP states a superset of what the CFA states about you.

    The CFA will not get you a job. It might get you a promotion.

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...


    Women prefer a 12" schlong, but in most cases that's not a prerequisite.

  • Nakaldun7913's picture

    IP, I'm not complaining at all, I fully understand why I am a candidate. I weighed the pros and cons of the charter and I understand how the CFA fits into my career goals. But that is me personally. I fully agree that the CFA has significantly less importance in areas of finance outside of becomming a PM. I also agree that many people that sit for the exam (Lvl 1 anyway) could be doing more productive things instead. Sitting for the exams fits my personal goals, I cannot attest to reasons anyone else would choose this path.

  • Boothorbust's picture

    Level I actually is easy. I don't understand how the pass rate is so low - if you are reasonably smart and study for 100 - 150 hours (not hard over four months or so) you should easily pass.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Going Concern's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    There's no such thing as "the CFAs", it's one charter that you get when you get through all the requirements. Glad I could help clear up all the confusion!

  • BanditPandit's picture

    11) Level I "Candidate"? Level II "Candidate"? Bitch please, you're garbage until you pass Level III. Don't slip in the level to make it seem like you're halfway there.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    Boothorbust's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    There's no such thing as "the CFAs", it's one charter that you get when you get through all the requirements. Glad I could help clear up all the confusion!


    Don't be a douche

  • In reply to BTbanker
    Going Concern's picture

    BTbanker:
    Going Concern:

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...

    Women prefer a 12" schlong, but in most cases that's not a prerequisite.

    If you're content with being one of those "most cases" bros, sure, that's cool. Enjoy your time in the swampy wastelands that comprise the terrain of the ninety-nine percenters, who also happen to have johnsons that are the size of baby carrot.

  • duffmt6's picture

    I'll play devil's advocate a bit here and say that the CFA helped me get a job in I-banking. I was coming from a non traditional background (1.5 years BO at a large financial services company) and trying to lateral into an analyst role. Nothing on my resume stood out from an experience perspective, but having CFA levels 1 and 2 under my belt probably got me the interview. Once I was in the door, I just had to be likeable enough to land the job.

    I'm done with the exams now, and can't honestly say whether or not that helped me in lateraling to my new analyst role, but it did come up in interviews as an impressive accomplishment.

    I think the CFA can be particularly useful for the non traditional type (like I was, and really still am). Maybe my time would have been better spent networking, but the additional academic benefits I got from pursuing the designation also shouldn't be ignored.

    "For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

  • In reply to BTbanker
    Unforseen's picture

    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    CFA has helped me tremendously this past year and I still have level III to do

  • In reply to Going Concern
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    There's no such thing as "the CFAs", it's one charter that you get when you get through all the requirements. Glad I could help clear up all the confusion!


    Yes, it's one charter that isn't all that relevant to most peoples' careers. People use the term "College Boards", I use the term "CFAs." If it irritates charterholders, all the better!

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Going Concern's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    There's no such thing as "the CFAs", it's one charter that you get when you get through all the requirements. Glad I could help clear up all the confusion!


    Yes, it's one charter that isn't all that relevant to most peoples' careers. People use the term "College Boards", I use the term "CFAs." If it irritates charterholders, all the better!

    You sound like you're just trying to provoke by spewing hogwash all over the place. This is a serious discussion.

  • In reply to Solaxun
    24837's picture

    Solaxun:
    99% of people who say that it is "useless" or they "sat for it" are really just speaking in code. What they meant to say is "I tried and failed and now I will tell everybody how useless it is to reassure myself that the exam wasn't worth my time, clearly, I could have passed if I cared". No, no, you couldn't have, which is why you didn't. Go cry to someone else.

    99%... sure thing!

  • Oscar_chow's picture

    Having recently been to a few recruiting events, almost every VP or higher I ask about the value of a CFA on my resume when applying had a short answer: "I'm going to look at about 20 resumes, more often than not if you're already CFA certified, you'll be part of that 20." This was for ER.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    Boothorbust's picture

    Going Concern:
    This is a serious discussion.

    Lol @ thinking anything on the internet is a serious discussion and not a dick measuring contest between douche canoes.

  • In reply to Unforseen
    BTbanker's picture

    Unforseen:
    BTbanker:
    cfa is useless

    CFA has helped me tremendously this past year and I still have level III to do


    I was just tolling bro.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    I've sat in trading and analytics, and I've seen the CFAs help a few people get jobs in AM. That said, I often think your career is best aided by focusing on your career rather than focusing on certifications.

    There's no such thing as "the CFAs", it's one charter that you get when you get through all the requirements. Glad I could help clear up all the confusion!


    Yes, it's one charter that isn't all that relevant to most peoples' careers. People use the term "College Boards", I use the term "CFAs." If it irritates charterholders, all the better!

    You sound like you're just trying to provoke by spewing hogwash all over the place. This is a serious discussion.


    LOL I'm not sure I started the douching here.

  • oreos's picture

    love how EVERY CFA thread descends into "is the CFA useful...." "CFA is useless for banking...."

    ""After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Going Concern's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:

    LOL I'm not sure I started the douching here.

    It certainly wasn't me, that's for sure! And yet look at all the monkey poo I got from all my insightful comments. Some people are really immature.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Going Concern:
    IlliniProgrammer:

    LOL I'm not sure I started the douching here.

    It certainly wasn't me, that's for sure! And yet look at all the monkey poo I got from all my insightful comments. Some people are really immature.


    None of that was me.

  • chicandtoughness's picture

    No one else gets the, "Wait, so how is that different from a CPA?"
    I'd say that's the most-asked question that I get. And after I explain what the CFA is, I then get: "Oh, it shouldn't be too bad then, it's just like a version of the CPA for finance, right?"

    Then again, I also work at a Big 4.

    "Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself."
    Currently: saying goodbye to the financial industry... going into healthcare sector
    Previously: M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM), academic research (HBS)

  • whatwhatwhat's picture

    wouldnt have gotten my job if i didnt pass level 1 during senior year
    struggling to decide whether to take level 2 or not...

  • expenseaccounts's picture

    Enjoy spending endless months studying for a near-meaningless test, morons.

    I'm going to get boozed and laid for 6 months, head to my MBA where I'll booze and get laid for another 2 years. After, I'll probably turn you down for my team while staffing and get some Ivy ex-Varsity schmuck instead.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    expenseaccounts's picture

    Going Concern:
    BTbanker:
    Going Concern:

    Almost every job description I see these days for HF/AM research says CFA or MBA preferred...

    Women prefer a 12" schlong, but in most cases that's not a prerequisite.

    If you're content with being one of those "most cases" bros, sure, that's cool. Enjoy your time in the swampy wastelands that comprise the terrain of the ninety-nine percenters, who also happen to have johnsons that are the size of baby carrot.

    Strong. Silver banana'd

  • In reply to Going Concern
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    Going Concern:
    who also happen to have johnsons that are the size of baby carrot.

    lol

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    The best way to guarantee a thread turns into a douche-fest is to start it with a rant.

  • eleutheros's picture

    Time to get new family & friends?

Pages