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The true cost of the CFA exams

My relationship has taken a beating this CFA season, and speaking to colleagues I found out that quite a few relationships have been sacrificed in the name of CFA. Also read Marc's article and realized that the sacrifices are real.

I'm not sure if I should continue to be honest. The aside from time and money, I'm not sure if the exams will cause irreparable damage to other parts of my life.

Thoughts, especially from @Marc or anyone else that has any kind of experience in this matter? Much appreciated...


  • I'm lucky in a weird way in that area - my partner is also studying for the CFA (one level above). So we're nerding out together...
  • That definitely helps @dollface.

    Ugh @itsalwayslupus , you definitely have my sympathy. Perhaps more background about what you are doing now, vs. what you are trying to achieve, may help the cost benefit analysis assessment here for your case?

  • itsalwayslupusitsalwayslupus San MateoPosts: 52 Associate
    I'm a third-year analyst in a tier-1 (ish) bank in NYC. Pretty long hours, and taking the CFA is adding to it. Passed L1, waiting for L2 results but I'm pretty sure I failed. Underestimated L2 scope or overestimated how much time I could spare. I'm CFAing because upper management are mostly CFAs and the rising stars all are going for it. To be honest trying to skip a year or two in the promotion path, or jump on somewhere else, which by looking at the current job market, is not too likely.

    Anyways L2 was a clusterf**k - way too much material for what time I could spare. Had to take what little time I was supposed to spend with family and girlfriend to try and make up for it, so didn't really see my girlfriend for about 4 months. She's not complained much, but I feel like the relationship has taken two steps backward - because we've spent so much time apart she's formed a different circle of friends and we're more distant.

    If I don't pass L2, that means I have at least 2 more years of this, and I feel every progressive year will be a net detriment to the relationship, and by the time I pass L3 I'm not sure what I'll have left. So I'm thinking what is the best option here - 1. drop CFA and focus on my relationship, 2. continue CFA and risk the relationship, or 3. temporarily halt CFA, work on the relationship and resume later.

    @Marc, you kind of went to option 3 so interested to hear your perspective, if you have one...any other advice from anyone else is welcome.
  • Luckily/unluckily I'm single... Good perspectively though @itsalwayslupus
  • calmerstudycalmerstudy Los Angeles, CAPosts: 7 Associate
    edited October 2017
    You're asking the question so many want to ask -- and labeled it correctly. The cash outlay to register and buy materials is a pittance compared to the real cost which is time spent away from friends, family, hobbies and work.

    One way out is to change perspective and not see as either/or, but how can you have it all.

    Clearly you need to create a partnership in passing the exam with your romantic partner. Is there anything in this for her, that you pass? For instance, most spouses can be supportive because there's a promotion and bigger salary, often even after L2.

    The long hours at your current work don't leave much room for anything outside work but could you draw on your evident strong self discipline and structure study hours and relationship hours? And keep those agreements with yourself and with girlfriend?

    You're not alone -- and about 80,000 people figure it out every year.
  • The issue is deciding on a day-to-day basis what to prioritize. And the problem is that purely on a day-to-day basis, a relationship can always 'give', i.e. we can meet up one hour later, sure, we can cancel dinner, sure, etc etc, to no substantial adverse effect, UNTIL the break-up happens (and you don't know when that happens). On the other hand, I am aware that for every study hour lost my exam performance will on aggregate drop by a specific amount. This leads me to bias towards prioritizing the exam until the relationship blows up.

    On similar concepts, an acquaintance blew his marriage over work, chasing a promotion and a bigger paycheck.

    Reading this back it sounds quite detached but that's my honest assessment of what happened to me.
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