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CFA in 18 Months: How & Why I Did Level I

edited March 2013 in 300 Hours
imageCFA in 18 Months: How & Why I Did Level I

By Sophie,  Guest Contributor .  Check out her  previous posts  to learn how to optimise your life and ace the CFA exams in 18 months even with a full-time job. How does one obtain the CFA...

Read the full story here



  • @Sophie, I need some of your superpower here. Following your schedule for June L1 and (still) trying to finish reading through the materials before April! :-B
  • This post never fails to inspire. I'm not saying that I will, or want to emulate @sophie, but knowing her case always helps me push on :)
  • Aw thanks guys! :\"> I'm always here to keep you guys going!
  • Hey Sophie, Thanks for fueling me with a great amount of motivation.
    I would like to ask whether I'll be eligible to sit L2 exam in June 2014, the thing is that I'll only be graduating with a degree in April 2014.
  • Hi @Hussain, you are definitely starting your CFA studies at a young age! Unfortunately, according to CFAI rules, you can't register for Level 2 until you got your degree. Having it by April 2014 is too late as mid March 2014 would be the final deadline for L2 June 2014 registration, I'm afraid.

    Try for June 2015 definitely @Hussain.
  • This is such an inspirational + motivational read! Every. Single. Time.
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
  • @Zee you are in the same league as Sophie
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
    @diya I failed Level 2 once. I should get the Sparta badge actually :D
  • I just got lucky guys. @Zee is the real whiz kid - the only reason he failed was he was studying French at the same time as Level 2 while working!
  • I want to duplicate @Sophie's success (though technically it wouldn't be as awesome since I'm not working) and whenever I feel frustrated I just think of @Sophie for a motivational boost.

    @Zee being a charterholder makes you hardcore by default in my opinion. I admit I am also being a bit biased since I think you are totally awesome. :p oro oro...
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
  • So I'm a university student from Toronto studying in Niagra doing a BBA with a concentration in finance. I am seriously confused about what to do when I graduate, I know more than anything I want to do my CFA but I've always wanted a Masters as well. There are many universities that offer combined Mfin/CFA programs but to do both I have to take vigorous tests for them, many masters program require work experience, which I have none relevant to my career path, however some also say that if I want to be just as competitive as those with work experience I should do my CFA level 1 exam, my dilemma is I don't know which one I should start studying for, or if I should even think about a masters at all and how do I start accumulating work experience?
  • Hi @Ishita, welcome to 300 Hours :)

    First up, most people don't know what the want to do when they graduate, and that includes me. So don't worry, your dilemma is normal!

    It depends what you want to try as a career at this point. I assume it's finance related at this point for my answer.

    However, having a Masters AND a CFA seems like an overkill to me personally, I doubt it adds much more to your career (it starts to hit the point of diminishing return). I have both myself, and my personal recommendation is to go start accumulating work experience and study CFA on the side.

    Why? CFA is better recognised internationally and allows better career mobility if you have such aspirations. Plus CFA is like another postgrad qualification anyway. And you gain useful work experience on the side, which helps towards your charterholder qualifications later on. So it's killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

    I'd say look for a finance-related junior role if you can upon graduation, and embark on your CFA studies on the side. Another Masters isn't necessary here.

  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
    @diya may also be able to add something here @Ishita. CFA/Masters programs aren't something I'm too familiar with (although I have both I earned them separately).

    Practically, I'd agree with @Sophie although I suspect your motivation for wanting to do a masters is more personal. If masters + CFA is something dear to you then your options can be to either do as @sophie suggested (drop masters and start CFA on the side), or work for a bit (to gather work exp) then start your combined program. My understanding based on your question is that they will require some work experience anyway, so might as well start. :)

    Welcome to the 3H Community! :)
  • @Ishita welcome to the 300hour's community.

    If you want to go to the more prestigious universities for a masters work experience is essential. Queen's lets you get away with the work experience requirement if you have already passed all 3 CFA exams (this information is a little old - they might have changes things since then).

    University of Toronto's Mfin program is a part time program and requires that you have at least 2 years experience and are still working (though that isn't explicitly a requirement but that is why it is structured as a part time program and what the recruitment guys told me when I talked to them ).

    I was talking to someone I know that works at Scotio McLeod and he was telling me that their investment banking side of the business only hires MBA (for better or for worse) so if you aren't sure what you want I'd suggest putting your Masters on the back burner and starting your CFA on the side and work on gaining work experience.

    Also why would you pay crazy Master tuition for the same information you are gaining by studying for the CFA on your own. I looked into the combined CFA/Masters program but finally decided that the ROA didn't justify this project.
  • Dear Sophie,

    Do you think yhat is possible when english is not your native tongue, any advice ? to work in spanish and study in english is like swiching a tv channel from an ordinary movie to a terror one.
    Thank for all
  • Hi @ARGOS7, that's definitely possible. I get what you mean on switching TV channels. On the bright side it's Spanish, imagine switching from Mandarin!. So I'd say more practice papers would help, and unfortunately is one of the few remedies. Brushing up English in general through watching English films, reading English books etc would be more interesting and help immensely too (but priority should be reviewing your CFA materials of course).
  • Thank you all so much! everyone is so helpful here, I'll definitely be back with more questions :)
  • Let us know what you've decided when you do @Ishita!
  • @ARGOS7 When learning/adapting yourself to a language, it always helps to "think" in that language. Por ejemplo, when you are watching a football match, when you find it really interesting, you might think in your head "Que gran partido!", try thinking to yourself "What a great game!".

    I'm not a native English speaker either, but I always had exposure to the language, and overtime while trying to adapt to languages, I felt it works best the way I described it above. Apart from that, just like @Sophie mentioned, try practicing the language whenever you can. And use the above technique I mentioned, it would help. Buenas Suerte Amigo! Piensas que "Sí te puedes" :-bd
  • Thanks to all, you are very kind people, in particular Sophie and AjFinance, this allow me to be more confdent, I sat for the CFAexam and fail in economy but in the other subjects got good mark, so I thought, my english is still weak for this, I have to double the bet, that´s the way I think we should live. Again thanks very much to your support lets keep in touch.
  • No worries @argos7, we are all here to help each other out. Have a browse in the forum and you'll already learn loads. Start a discussion too if you have any questions! See you around :)
  • Thanks Sophie I´doing this dayly, I´ve got old exams and questions, starting my review, any advice...I saw that there is an event on sunday... what is is ?
  • Hi @argos7, sounds like you're on the right track! Event on sunday? Oh, you mean here at the forum? Oh yes, we have a competition to win Elan's 11th hour guide. Check out the rules here, it's really easy to join and it's gonna be fun.
  • Thank´s i´ll try to be there,

  • Hi Sophie, I am a lawyer. I deal mostly with commercial agreements and I have gotten more interested in the financial aspects of things especially corporate and project finance. I wonder if the CFA will be a worthy certification. I am thinking about writing the Level 1 exams in December 2013, However, as I have no prior financial background, do you think that is enough time or will it be better to wait for the June 2014 exams? Thanks
  • Hi @_MisoMiso_ ! First and foremost, I love your name and welcome to the community :) With consistent hard work, even without a 'proper finance' background, you would have enough time for Dec 2013. There's quite a few of us here in the community who are from non-finance background too (e.g. IT), and they are progressing fine to take Level 2 this June. So no worries on that point.

    On your comment on whether CFA would be a worthy certification for you, I think it depends. It's definitely not necessary, and can be build up through transactional experience, but if it's something that interests you, and you would be willing to put in the hours for the studies, I think it'd be a huge plus as it helps to understand the finance terminology in your area of speciality too.

    Personally I work very closely to lawyers (+ accountants), and I find myself learning the legal terminology quickly as I am the 'commercial person' that work with them to effect certain financial transactions - so in a way I'm the opposite case of you, and I do wish I was better at drafting things the way they do, but unfortunately I'm less interested in learning all aspects of law, and pick it up as I go along.

    I hope this helps! Let me know what you'd decided on finally then.

  • Hi sophie...
    Im appearing for level 1 in june 2013, i have done bba, n no working experience yet as i hv finished my degree last year.. Im very upset as i think im not well prepared.. :'( though i hv been preparing since nov bt it was on n off.. N now im left with 23 days only.. Will start practice exams in a week or so.. I think im late n im very upset.. :'(
  • SophieSophie Posts: 2,036 Sr Partner
    Hi @hafsasmalik, don't worry. Why do you feel you're not prepared? Have you seen my suggested 5 step plan for the last month? I think it's time to move on to practice papers now and just keep on revising and practising. If you're in this full time you have loads of time left. But just make use of it wisely.
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