CFA CFA Level 1 No background in Finance, can I really do this?

No background in Finance, can I really do this?

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    • Lollypolly
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      Hello everyone, I’ve been asked by my boss to complete the CFA Level 1 exam, they haven’t given me a strict time frame but suggested I try the December exam. I have no previous background in finance, I have a LL.B and I’ve completed a basic accounting courses but nothing of real substance. If I register now and plan to study 1-2 hours every weekday and as much as possible at the weekends will that give me enough time to attempt the December sitting of the exam? I really want to pass however I feel not having a grounding in Finance is going to make it far more difficult then expected.

      My boss told me he only studied for 2 weeks before he attempted it so I should have no problem but after reading a lot of stuff online about the pass/fail rate, I’m not very confident at all. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

    • edulima
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      @Lollypolly, if you start now and can put an average of 3 hours a day (so your weekends would have to be pretty heavy if you only do 1-2 hours during weekdays), I think it’s possible. I’d be assuming that you don’t have a finance background but you have the interest and a reasonable facility with grasping new concepts. For this to work, you’ll need to be very disciplined in your study, and also very objective. Ask your boss to buy you the Schweser package and make sure you drill a lot of the questions from the q-bank after going though each topic.

    • Lollypolly
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      @edulima thanks for your response. I have done some analytical/valuation work, and because of that they want to train me up as an analyst, they seem to think I will have no problem passing but based on everything I’ve read, I’m not so sure, this is coming from guys who did level one 15+ years ago and are basing their opinion on that.

      My issue is that if I don’t take the December sitting they will see it as me not having a proper interest in pursuing it further. I could try do 3 hours daily but I feel like I might crack under the pressure. They are willing to pay for it and for whatever education tools I might require.

      My OH is telling me I HAVE to do it, to prove to work I have drive and a friend who is a CFA is telling me its not possible in the time frame.

    • edulima
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      Hum… @Lollypolly, if you decide to go for it, you need to take some pressure off (you definitely don’t want to crack!). That way you can give it your best, and chances will improve as well. How bad would it be if you go for it and don’t pass (and maybe retake it in June 2015)? Also, if you do it and pass, would you be planning to sit for Level 2 in June 2015? If not, then I can see less of a reason to rush into Level 1 in December especially if a fail gets a bad frown; you could register for Level 1 in June 2015 and start studying early to show your commitment. But if you think it’s worth going now, like I said, it’s possible in my opinion, but you’ll need to work really hard to keep your confidence in check and avoid crises.

      In my case, I wanted to pass Level 1 in December (2013) so that I could do Level 2 in June, which I did and it worked well for me. It was pretty brutal in terms of effort to study for all of this within about a year, but now I’ll have a bit more time for Level 3 next June (though I plan to get very serious when I do start!).

    • Maverick
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      @LollypollyI have to say that if you boss says he did it in 2 weeks, then he is either talking some serious #$!& or he already had some very significant grounding in finance / fra / economics / etc / etc / etc…

      I’m with Edulima, it’s possible to pass in December if you register and start *now*. You’d definitely need to be putting in a good 2 to 3 hours a day, plus some heavy weekends. You will need to take some pressure off, and if your company are fine to divert all available resources to helping you, then I’m sure they will help, otherwise you’ll be seriously risking burnout.

      As Edulima said. Register for December. Worst case, you don’t pass, take it again in June.

    • Lollypolly
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      @Maverick he had an MBA and Finance Degree so I’m sure he had a lot of the groundwork from that.   @edulima, I’m going to do it. Like you said worst case scenario I fail, its not the end of the world. Going to register and order Schweser now and get cracking. I’m a fairly fast reader, so I’m hoping to get through all the material by September and then do a revision in October and save November for practice exams. I feel like once I register I’ll be counting down the days until December so its over but I’m sure I’ll manage somehow. 

      I went through some sample quant/econ questions with my OH  last night, he’s a Engineer and he was getting engrossed so I know if I have questions he’ll be there to help. He loves problem solving. 

    • edulima
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      Cool! Even if you finish your first read-through by mid-October (or even late-October), you should be fine to have a full month for review & practice. A week or so after you start, adjust your study schedule to make it more realistic according to your pace of comprehension, and then stick to it with rare exceptions (and build in a little margin for those rarities).

      Best of luck @Lollypolly! You can use this forum for technical questions as well, once you hit the matter!

    • Zee Tan
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      Hey @Lollypolly‌ – our analysis strongly suggests that candidates with no educational background in finance tend to do better: http://www.300hours.com/blog/does-your-financial-background-play-a-role-in-your-cfa-exam-success

      I also took on the CFA exams without any financial background. A lot of people do it, it’s perfectly possible.

      Agree with @edulima‌ and @Maverick‌: 2 weeks study is possible but definitely not recommended, and take Dec as a ‘free option’.

    • ommthree
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      I had no finance background when I started mine, and that was really no issue at all; the curriculum start at zero. I actually did level one in about the same timeframe that you’re working on and while it was hard work, when taken along with a demanding job, it was perfectly do-able. 

      One issue worth mentioning might be the mathematics side of things. If you’re solid with basic stats then then you’ll have a significant advantage. It helped me a lot anyway.

    • MM12
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      @Lollypolly‌ I believe it’s possible to pass level 1 in December if you start now, but like others have already said, it will take a major commitment time-wise and a lot of focus. I believe the opinion of your bosses may not be fair as they did the CFA exams such a long time ago. Maybe it was more doable back then, but today I’d say you need a lot of luck in addition to skill to pass CFA (any level) with that little preparation. There is a reason 300 hours is recommended…

      Also, I had no background in finance whatsoever when I started the CFA so from personal experience I know that it’s possible 🙂 

    • Lollypolly
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      I decided to wait it out and take the June sitting after lots of humming and hawing. With everything going on right now I just think its best to get myself organised and have plenty of time to cover all the material. I registered and am waiting on my study material to arrive. I’ve set up a study plan and I’m hoping that if I take one topic at a time, it will all be ok. haha. I’m mentally preparing myself for some serious tantrums in my future.

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