First off, I just realized that in all the build-up to the December exam I forgot to congratulate June candidates for their hard work and success. I say success because, pass or fail, you committed to one of the most difficult professional programs in the world and are a better professional for it. I especially want to congratulate the 14,000 candidates that passed the Level III CFA Program exam and are on their way to receiving the charter. You’ve joined a select group in the industry and accomplished what few have been able to do.
Looking over exam results has me reminiscent of my own years studying the CFA curriculum. It’s reminded me of something I heard a long time ago from a teacher in high school. It’s the toughest roads that make the best journeys.
Would you do it all again?
The maxim is absolutely true and this may come as a shock but someday you will look back on those days with your nose buried in the CFA curriculum books with a desire to relive it.
“What?” you say, “No way, I would ever want to go through that again!”
Don’t be so sure. It’s been more than 15 years since I finished boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corps, one of the most difficult mental and physical journeys of my life, and I still remember it vividly. I constantly had to push myself beyond what I thought possible and the challenge was spectacular. I’ve yet to find another road that led to such a feeling of accomplishment or that has been as memorable.
And you will feel the same way about your years studying for the CFA exam. Right now, all you know is the constant struggle of practice problems and learning outcome statements. With every exam, you start to see the bigger picture and how much you’ve grown as a true professional. I still look back at those years and that sense of growth fondly, and I’ll bet that you will too.
No one said the road to earning the CFA charter would be easy. You will be pushed to test your limits of intellectual perseverance and commitment. You will likely question the program’s worth and your own ability to learn.
But you will also learn what it means to push yourself and sacrifice for a higher level of professional pride. The intellectual growth you achieve will only be exceeded by the feeling of emotional growth and the knowledge that you can make it down any road.
So, for you candidates struggling through those last few precious weeks to December or those of you terrified at the thought of another exam season starting soon, I say enjoy this time of your life.
You’ll miss it.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA
We’ll get back to our review of the Level I CFA Program curriculum next week with a list of must know subjects and some study tips for the last couple of weeks. Make sure you are measuring your progress with mock exams and lots of practice problems.