“Continuity in preparation along with sufficient revision is the key to clear different levels of the CFA examination”- Akul Minocha, 2nd Year Student at IIM Rohtak
The CFA program is considered to be one of the toughest as well as the most valued exam in the financial world. Clearing this exam opens a world of opportunities and helps to spearhead one’s career. Let us take the opportunity to meet Akul Minocha from IIM Rohtak who has cleared level 2 of the CFA exam with his persistent efforts and dedication.
Hello Akul, greetings from the Public Relations Cell of IIM Rohtak. First of all, many congratulations for clearing level 2 of the CFA exam. Please tell us something more about this exam.
-Thank You so much. The CFA program consists of three levels of examinations and is considered to be one of the toughest on Wall Street, so much that less than 20% pass all the three levels in the first shot. Clearing the three levels of examinations along with a qualifying work experience of 4 years makes one eligible to apply for CFA charter. The examination consists of a range of topics in finance like Equity, Portfolio Management, Economics, Quantitative Methods, Corporate finance and many others. Extensive curriculum, along with its emphasis on ethics has made it one of the most recognized qualifications in the financial world.
So, how did you prepare for this exam? When did you start preparing? Can you please elaborate in detail so that our readers can take cues from your preparation which would help them to take this exam?
-I cleared level 1 examination in Dec 2014 and then enrolled for level2 of the examination which was scheduled in June 15. Many students prefer to opt for level 1 examination in June as quite a bit of the basics of the CFA curriculum is covered during the first year of MBA. For the level 2 examination preparation, I used Irfanullah’s videos and found it to be quite good. The video lectures teach you the topics from the curriculum. So, at the end you feel comfortable while walking yourself through the curriculum and practicing questions. I started my preparation in April just after the 3rd trimester ended and studied for the next two months during my summer Internship. I started with quantitative methods as it was used as a base in other topics. Firstly, I learnt the topics by watching the video lectures and made notes along with it. Curriculum examples along with topics end questions were sufficient for the examination. Level 2 examination deals with the topics in detail and moreover much of the curriculum this time fell out of the ambit of the MBA curriculum, so it required a lot of time. Finally, I spared the last 15-20 days for revision and for practicing mock exams.
How hard was it to manage time for your preparations apart from college studies, given that IIM curriculum is very demanding?
– I feel an MBA student has to deal with a different set of challenges for the two levels of the examination. I started my preparation for level 1 examination in August 2014. Just 2 months into an IIM, getting myself accustomed to the IIM culture, the demanding curriculum and preparing for level 1 examination along with it was the main challenge. The syllabus was not the challenge as most of it overlapped with the course curriculum, so I concentrated more on the topics that were new to me. For the level 2 examination the challenge was the curriculum and not the time. I got my level 1 result in January and then had 5 months to prepare for level 2 Examination. Even with the surplus time the curriculum was still a challenge. Out of the three levels, 2nd is considered to be the toughest in terms of the breadth as well as the depth of the topics it covers. As I said earlier, Irfanullah’s video lectures and the time I got during my summer internship helped me pass this examination.
Can you shed light on the importance of clearing this exam? How would a candidate be benefitted when he steps out of college and enters the corporate world?
-The CFA program can help candidates break into the industry of equity research, asset management and hedge funds. In this highly competitive finance industry, you need to find an edge over the other candidates. The CFA program certainly gives you one such edge and since it is a self-study program, the certification reflects on a candidate’s ability to work hard on his own.
CFA institute also organizes various events all round the year. These events give one an opportunity to interact and network with other CFA charter holders who are working in the industry. This opportunity is priceless because networking opportunities are tremendous. Moreover, one can join a local CFA society as a candidate member and interact with professionals and candidates.
How should a student planning to take the CFA exam start preparing? Can you please suggest some useful preparation tips for the students preparing for this exam?
-The CFA curriculum is designed such that a candidate needs to put in 300 hours of studying per level to pass the examination. One should start the preparation at least 4 months in advance, 3 months for preparation and the last one to revise and practice mock exams. Candidates usually prefer to do ethics in the end as one has to memorize a lot and the same worked for me too. The curriculum is vast and reading it requires a lot of time and effort. A candidate can use materials that are being provided by private institutes, these cover all the learning objective statements and are pretty concise. The strategy that worked for me was first to watch video lectures and understand the topic well. Next step was to work on the curriculum examples and the chapter-end questions. Additionally, one can also read the curriculum depending on how much one is comfortable with a particular topic. At last, practicing the mock exams and a final revision shall seal the preparation. Making notes along with each chapter, was a must because the number of topics to be covered are so vast that one needs access to quick bullet points to summarize the concepts during revision. Otherwise, referring the curriculum or video lectures again is simply not possible.
Interviewed By: Anand Prakash Singore (PGP06)