“And now for something completely different,”

I always love hearing the familiar segue line from the old episodes of the Monty Python series. In case you’re not familiar, often between skits of slapstick absurdity during the tv show would appear a straight-faced, button-down gentleman to proclaim, “and now for something completely different.” Of course, the promise was always followed by more slapstick absurdity, but that’s what we loved about it.

The segue became so popular that it developed into a film spinoff for the comedy troupe in 1971 meant to introduce the show to American audiences. While the film itself did not do terribly well, it developed a cult following and expanded the group’s audience leading to four additional feature-length films.

Your “something completely different”
For those of you just unwinding after a tough level one exam or for those that are still trying to come down off the June exams, a ‘something completely different’ may be just what you need.

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge advocate for active involvement in your local CFA society. I had the opportunity to volunteer and serve on the board for the local society here in Des Moines and would highly recommend it to all candidates. I made the case earlier this year for contacting your local society for volunteer opportunities.

For those wanting to keep sharp between 6-month study marathons, I recommend looking around the CFA Institute’s website and the seemingly infinite pages of research and advice available in the Learning & Events section. Resources cover every asset class as well as networking, management and the most current insight on every topic area of the curriculum. Information ranges from brief 15-minute webcasts to full publications and online courses.

O.k., so the above two suggestions are not really, “completely different,” from studying for the CFA exams. Try to break out of your comfort zone and get involved in something outside the financial industry as well.

  • Establishing a routine at either of the extremes of physical activity may pay off big time when studying for the next exam heats up. Those boot camp-type fitness programs are great for clearing your head and flushing your system of the day’s stress. At the other extreme, a yoga or Tai Chi program can help you relax and put things in perspective.
  • Read a book outside of financial topics. I like history but have to throw in a fiction novel every once in a while to avoid the compulsion to be ‘learning’ something.
  • Studying for the CFA exams is, for the most part, a solitary activity and can isolate you for long periods. Join a team event or group (billiards anyone?) to reconnect with friends or to make new ones.

Just as Python’s ‘something completely different’ opened them up to new audiences and made some great movies possible, what you do between exams could dramatically change your course. Have fun with it and take a little time to relax.

Time to study for the next CFA exam will be here soon enough.
Until next time, happy (not) studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA