CFA Level I advice

Hi all- I am 32 years old and transitioning from Medical Device Sales in NYC I to (hopefully) medical device equity research. I met with an analyst at a top bank here and he advised me to take the CFA level one exam, pass it, and then start applying to equity research jobs and he thinks with my background in the industry and the CFA under my belt that I would be able to land an associate equity research position.

Two questions:

  1. Is there anything you would add to this advice?

  2. What is the best way to prepare for the CFA Level I exam with little to no finance background? I was looking into Schweiser. There is a "self study" option and a more expensive option which includes classes that can be watched online. Any experience with these prep options?

I'm hoping to take the exam in December (it is administered in December and June). Any and all advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you.

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Comments (5)

Aug 20, 2019 - 9:33am

Level 1 is challenging for people with no Finance background, but it can be done. It cannot be said with certainty you'll get interviews with just an L1 under your belt and Med Device sales experience -- if I were looking at your resume I would want to see financial modeling experience.

1) I would suggest looking into the BIWS modeling classes or something similar to further demonstrate your interest level and preparedness.

2) I used Schweser for 1 and 2, so i highly recommend. I only used the online classes for L2 but was very glad I did -- since your starting from scratch I'd think it'd be even more useful.

3.) If you're planning on taking it in Dec, you have your work cut out for you, Since you effectively have 3 months to learn it all with no background. So, my best advice would be to start studying by lunchtime tomorrow, or sign up for the June Test.

Good Luck.

Aug 20, 2019 - 10:54am

Would add to the above post that if you are a visual learner, Mark Meldrum is a great resource for videos. He has his old level 1 stuff for free on youtube, but you can pay for an updated version on his website.

Personally, I would recommend reading the topics that are weighed the heaviest on lvl 1 if you feel like you don't have the time, and then just doing as many practice questions as possible. You can still pass the exam even if you fail miserably on certain sections; just have to make sure you make up for it in other sections.

Save reading the ethics portion until 2-3 days before the exam imo. It's arguably the most important sections but isn't terribly difficult to remember.

Anyways, good luck!

Aug 26, 2019 - 3:51pm

I would sign up for the December test. The added cost is minimal relative to the potential gain if this is your desired path. If you fail just sign up immediately for the June exam and your resume still says " level 1 candidate." Even if you fail the studying will be directly applicable to the June exam because they only change the topics between June and December.

Aug 27, 2019 - 11:38am

Not trying to be sarcastic at all, but level 1 candidate strikes me as a little sketchy no?

One of my friends has that in the bio of his parody instagram account...or CFA lvl1 participant I think, which I find funny.

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