One of the toughest exams to bell, which many consider as the gateway to lucrative finance profiles, we had a talk with him about his ‘mantra’ to success. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
Hello Dev, greetings from the Public Relations Cell of IIM Rohtak. First of all, many congratulations for clearing level 1 of the CFA exam. Please tell us something more about this exam.
Thank you, Chartered Financial Analyst is an exam conducted by American based CFA institute and is usually taken by people who want to get into Asset Management, Research Analysis or Hedge Fund Management. One has to clear 3 levels of CFA exams, along with some other requirements to become a CFA charter holder. Level 1 exam is conducted twice a year in December and June and it is an objective paper. It comprises of two sets of papers with 120 questions each from 10 different sections. Each section has a separate cut-off.
So, how did you prepare for this exam? When did you start preparing? Can you please elaborate in detail so that our readers can take cues from your preparation which would help them clear this exam?
Before filling the form for CFA level 1, I first decided to read some of the topics to get a feel of what I was getting into. After that, I had an option of filling the form either for the month of December or June. I felt that I can complete the syllabus by December and therefore, I decided to take the exam in December. I filled the form in August and started with the preparation. CFA level I exam has 10 sections and each of it is evaluated separately with different cut-off for each section so all the sections are to be prepared thoroughly. I decided to start with the part that I knew the least about at that time, which were Derivatives, Fixed income securities and Portfolio management. After finishing these topics, I decided to go for topics that I was more familiar with like Economics, Financial reporting analysis and Quantitative methods. The curriculum for CFA is very bulky and thus, requires a lot of revision and practice. After this, I solved sample papers to identify my weaknesses and worked on it.
How hard was it to manage time for your preparations apart from college studies, given that IIM curriculum is very demanding?
It was really challenging, given the fact that I had decided to give the exam in December. I had four months to prepare for the exam which takes about 300 hours of studying. I knew that I will have to follow a disciplined schedule if I wanted to clear this exam. I kept 3 hours separately each day to study for CFA apart from college studies. I also studied whatever was taught in the college on that day itself, so that I could continue my preparations for CFA even during exam time. This discipline was very important as I was also preparing for another exam and I had to devote time to all three at the same time.
Can you shed some light on the importance of clearing this exam? How would a candidate be benefitted when he steps out of college and enters the corporate world?
First thing that everyone who is aspiring to give this exam should know is that CFA is not a golden ticket to your dream job. Also, it is not necessary for someone to have a CFA degree to become an Investment Banker or Asset Manager. But what it will do is that it will give you a deep knowledge in areas of investment analysis, portfolio management and hedge fund management. Also it will be a stamp of approval on your credibility as a financial analyst globally, which will help you in getting new opportunities.
How should a student planning to take the CFA exam start preparing? Can you please suggest some useful preparation tips for the students preparing for this exam?
Any candidate who is preparing for CFA should start by preparing a schedule on how he/she is going to go about it. Before that, go through all the sections and identify which topics are coming easy to you and which ones are difficult to understand. Try to devote more time to the areas which you find difficult and start from these areas. After finishing, you can move on to the part that you find comparatively easier. After completing each section quickly revise it, solve sample papers as much as possible as they will give you the best insight on your preparation level. While preparing, keep a timer along with you so that you know how much each topic is taking and whether you are spending any extra time on it or saving any extra time. Try tostick to your schedule as much as possible.