Keeping Sharp for the Exam

It’s at least six months before most of you want to even think about the CFA curriculum or dastardly things like implied spot rates or yield convexity. It would be peaceful to think that all the stuff you studied and learned leading up to your last exam will come rushing back once you crack open the next exam level books.
Alas, it seems financial analysis is not quite like riding a bike, you can in fact forget.
Not that you could start studying next January and discover that you’ve forgotten what a dividend is or that liabilities and equity sums to total assets, but the mind tends to let details slip when they are not needed for a time.
For most, it is not a huge problem. Your job requires you to research and analyze some aspects found in the curriculum. Even if your position does not require you to think about every topic area, your mind is still actively engaged in analysis.
Others may not be as fortunate. Your daily path may not cross over the excitement that is yield curve trades and cash flow modeling.  Fortunately there is a great source for exploring the industry.
http://www.cfainstitute.org/learning/Pages/index.aspx
The link above will take you to the landing page for the Learning & Events section of the CFA Institute. On the page, you’ll find links to online courses, webcasts, and more publications that you could ever possibly read. Some resources are short and fairly basic while others approach full practical-level courses (there is an online fixed-income analysis course that is five hours long and amazingly detailed).
Some of the areas, particularly the publications, can be a little difficult to navigate because of the quantity and sources for material. My search for ‘emerging markets’ found more than 600 hits within the 15 investment topic categories. It may take some hunting to find research on a specific topic but if you are just looking for an insightful read or a general subject area, the site is an excellent resource. Material ranges from short interviews on industry topics like the Take 15 Series to detailed courses from practitioners.
Almost all of the material is free for members of the institute and a minimal charge for candidates. Most of the published material is free and new material is updated regularly. I usually spend at least once a week looking around the site to read the new material.
So look around the site. Whether you are researching a specific topic or just looking for some interesting ideas in the industry, I guarantee you will find something. I just finished watching a lecture covering the MENA economies, given by the former chairman of the board at the Palestine Monetary Authority. Where else would that be possible!
Keep that brain in shape! About two weeks left until test results.
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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