Saturday, November 1, 2008

Travel Travails...

On October 9th a seemingly innocuous mail from the CFA Institute showed up in my inbox titled "CFA Exam Update". The court hearing about the case between the ICFAI and the CFA Institute (I don't intend to go into the details of the court case here or anywhere) had already been postponed 2 times and the airfares between Mumbai - Singapore / B'lore S'pore even on Tiger airways seemd to move with perfect negative correlation to the stock markets

Prashanth and I had received a confirmation of a change in test center to Nepal a couple of days prior to this and decided to get cracking on the tickets et all..

After doing the rounds of travel agents, websites like et all it boiled down to 3 options

1. Bombay - Gorakhpur (train), by road to the border, walk across and take a 6 hour bus journey to Kathmandu

Cost - Cheapest (~Rs. 3000), Time taken - longest (~3 days each way), Chances of being stuck in a landslide - Highest

2. Bombay - Delhi flight followed by Delhi - Kat flight

Cost - Most expensive (~Rs. 25000), Time taken - Shortest (<24 hours), Chances of being stuck in a landslide - negligible :D

3. Bombay - Delhi (Train), followed by Delhi - Kat flight - Indian was full and Jetlite was the next cheapest option here. I had been warned by a few people against Royal Nepal

Cost - Moderate (~Rs. 15000), Time taken - Moderate (<36 hours), Chances of being stuck in a landslide - Minor (only while entrained)

Needless to say it was option 3 that we chose. So then people it's all done. Train tickets through IRCTC (man this site is really good when it works) & Jelite flight tickets through an agent.

Hotel bookings for ~1200 INR including taxes though no breakfast. Now I need to go to the mattresses and pray that my name is among those who are in the 35% pass rate :)

Wish me luck people!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CBOK, Study sessions, Reading assignments et all

Ok so you've filled out the forms online and registered for the exams by paying USD 1,000 or INR 43,000 (gulp!!) or thereabouts for the exam. You've even managed to find the link to the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) for each study session which is a 42 page document that tells you what exactly are you supposed to be able to accomplish at the end of each study session(?). And even the 19Kg packet has come home courtesy UPS. So how does this all stack up?

I like to think of myself as a big-picture guy :) meaning that I hate doing something till I don't understand the big picture behind it. Understanding the "big picture" may not be of too much help to most people which is ok (to each his own and all of that) but it does help put things in perspective. So here's my take on what I've gotten myself into.

To be awarded teh CFA charter which allows you the rigth to use the CFA designation you need to: (a) Pass the 3 exams and (b) Meet the professional & ethical requirements. Let's talk about a for now.

The 3 exams are based on a curriculum called the candidate body of knowledge (CBOK) which is determined by the institute through a practice analysis survey of professionals around the world. This CBOK covers 10 areas each which are listed here. These topics are tested in the 3 exams in a different level of detail. The approximate weights that each of these topics carry in each of the exams can be found here. One thing that immediately strikes you is that no particular area has unduly high or low scores which means that you cannot afford to leave any 1 section out completely. Being an engineer I know for a fact that an equal amount of time if not more is spent on pouring through the past years papers to determine which topics have been glossed over historically. Alas, those days are no more :(

Here's a bit of statistic that I found most interesting. The pass percentage is 35% (man that's lower than my favorite number 40 from engineering :P).  A candidate can pass the exams in about 18 months but it takes on an average of 4 years to pass them all with 6 months of study on an average for each exam. 

So here are the numbers (and my attempts to align them to the Indian education system in brackets)

1 CFA charter (the degree)
3 exams to pass (the 3 exams to pass)
10 topic areas for each exam (10 subjects that stay the same :(( )
Level 1 has 18 study sessions (18 text books)
which are divided into 76 readings (that have 76 chapters)
10-15 hours of study per week for 18 weeks (no study leave)
250-350 hours of studying (same as above)
0 social life and loads of prayer and good luck to boot :)

In case you're wondering about the LOS; I would akin them to the Syllabus that is available for each exam we used to give in college. 

Well, now that the big picture is crystal clear let's hit the books :D

Cheers till next time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Gear

I am one of the recent entrants to the long line hopefuls in a quest for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter offered by the AIMR, USA. Thought it would be interesting to blog about my experiences, learnings and any tips that I pick up along the way.

Something about my background while we're in the introductory phase. With regards to education I've earned a degree in Electronics Engineering from TSEC, Mumbai (those who know me from those days will testify that me getting the degree is nothing short of a miracle), though like the vast majority of engineers I realised a couple of years into it that a life of writing code or designing circuits is not for me. After shuttling through small-time jobs for a year I managed an admit to the 2 year full-time PDGBM program of Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education (SIMSREE) with a major in Finance that ended with me being placed in the treasury sales function of one of India's largest private banks and based out of India's Orange City Nagpur.

My professional career got off to an awesome start with me landing in a strange city which I could barely locate on a map though it turned out to be one of the most awesome experiences of my life both work-wise and partying wise :). The partying was in a large part due to my passion for motorcycle riding and the brothers of Wanderlust MC, Nagpur. There's more on my passion for motorcycle riding here. Add to that my job required me to travel for 20 days a month across Vidarbh, M.P. and Chattisgargh. The experience of living alone for the first time, travelling to different locations and selling currency derivatives was definetly and eye opener.

Moved on to a job in strategy planning for one of India's largest Telcos and into a completely different world of vision, mission, business modelling, valuation and the like. Somewhere along this path I decided to get the CFA charter to fill in gaps in knowledge, learn the nitty gritties of what I had glossed over in B-School and get a cool CFA designation to boot :)

The idea of this blog came as my previous attempts at blogging have resulted in nought for want of having anything interesting to post on a regular basis.

Blogging about this should be fun methinks. Watch this space...