Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A very disappointing day indeed

Yesterday the results from the June 2010 CFA Levels 1 and 2 exams became available. Story from Bloomberg here. This year, instead of being required to log in to the website (which crashed for hours last year) they email blasted everyone their scores. 42% of level 1 and 39% of level 2 of applicants passed this year, down from 46% and 41%, respectively, last year.

I was one of the 58% level 1 candidates who were unsuccessful last year. Almost exactly this time last summer I sat on the edge of my seat, along with thousands of others, facing my computer while anxiously mashing F5 over and over again causing the site to crash but hoping that others would get frustrated and quit and then the problem would resolve itself so I could see my results. I mean my achievement. But when the smoke cleared the outcome was, to put it mildly, suboptimal. I was in the top band of unsuccessful exam participants which means I was in the top 10% of failures. Hooray!

No not hooray. I was understandably upset. Other than my D in microeconomics 101, it was the first thing that I had ever attempted and actually failed at. When I texted my girlfriend, she was empathetic with my situation because she had been denied acceptance to medical school in her first application cycle (though accepted on the second try). That day, she rode the metro down to my office building to bring me a homemade lunch packed with my favorite foods. It was very nice. That helped to turn my day around.

That's not to say that it filled the hole - the deep, gaping hole of failure. I really didn't begin to feel better until I read a post on the results by the professor who ran the now defunct blog, Financial Rounds. It lists a number of reasons a non-pass (the nicer pejorative of fail) shouldn't be cause for alarm, including: incredibly smart people populate both sides of the dividing line, studying the same material again will indelibly lead you to have a better foundation to begin the next level, there is no significant difference between becoming a CFA charterholder at 28 or 28 and a half, and the best but yet incredibly dismissive reason: nobody will care but you. Thanks for those words, Joey DeVivre.

In the end, I resolved that I wouldn't resign to being labelled a failure by the CFA Institute. I said "I will rise again!" (queue the overly dramatic) And I stick by that aim. I will eventually retake the CFA, but for now I am taking the CAIA level 1 in September as a baby step towards learning the investment management industry while also credentialing up.