Learning straight from the leading experts of the world

Note: Only people with IQ above 150 can understand this post

Do you have a question on equity valuation, emerging markets, game theory, presentation designing or anything else? If yes then this post is for you.

The method we most often use to get our questions answered is to ‘google’ the question. And why not? Mr. Google seems to know everything. However, one common problem with Google is differentiating between “Signal and Noise”. Try searching for proper bodybuilding diet and you will find 100 different guys giving 100 different opinions. How are we supposed to know which one is correct? Go no carbs, high protein or the starvation diet?

Here is a very complicated and difficult approach (of course if you want better quality you need to work hard!!!) I have employed to get very specific answers. It involves the following complex steps

1. Find out your expert (e.g. Damodaran for valuation, Mark Mobius for emerging markets, Ariel Rubenstein for game theory and Nancy Duarte for Presentation Designing)

2. Find out their email address from their personal blog/website

3. Email them with your question and wait for your answer

So why would these guys reply to a nobody like me or you? It is simply because they are super passionate about what they do. They want people to learn about these subjects. It is not just about money for them. Neither should it be for you.

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Effective networking: Swallow your pride

A really smart person I had as a boss once told me that we should ‘network without any shame’. If we need to reach somebody we have to keep on trying and be tenacious until that person bulges. I was too young at that time to realize the value of that statement. Now, after 5 year of job experience I realize that he gave me one of the finest advice that I ever received.

Networking
Freedigitalphotos/cooldesign

When I started networking quite aggressively I realized that many people are not as forthcoming as I would have wanted them to be. Some of them could be downright rude. They will not pick up my calls or reply to my messages and emails. But I really couldn’t afford to stop trying. So usually after a couple of attempts I tried to use some sort of different approach.

The key theme of this post is not to talk about all the fancy techniques used to get a person to take interest or wriggle information out of a person. The main idea is that if we want to network we really need to swallow our pride. There will definitely be people who would completely ignore us. And that’s fine. A person ignoring us will not make us smaller. We would only be ‘stupid’ if we stopped networking just because a few people chose to ignore us.

Finally, the best part comes when the very person who ignored us once later has to come to us for help. Should we give them the same treatment they gave us? Not really. That is the time to show who the greater man is.

P.S. I dedicate this post to Aminul Haque bhai who was a great person and an even better mentor.

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CFA Exam Preparation: My Foolproof Method to Pass the Exam

Passing the CFA exam on first attempt is tough. I was fortunate enough to make it. I actually used a certain method for CFA exam preparation, which I want to share in this blog post.

The truth is that there is no magic formula. It is all about hard work and determination.  In particular proper planning and execution of the plan is probably the most important factor in passing the CFA exam.

PHASE 1 (2-3 months)

1. Subscribe to this blog: Even though this blog did not really exist when I gave the exam, I will share all the tricks and tips I used to pass CFA. You wouldn’t want to miss those. don’t wait and write your email address on the top right space for subscription. Press the “subscribe” button and confirm it from your email inbox.

2. Register at AnalystforumAnalystforum is the best networking platform for CFA students. I used this forum extensively for some much-needed motivation. That is not the end as people share great notes, help each other out on difficult topics, share questions and what not. Overall a great community to be part of.

3. Finish textbook once: Finish the textbooks once (either CFAI or Schweser). CFAI books are recommended, but I (and others) did pass all three levels with Schweser as my primary reference book.

4. EOC from CFAI Books: Finish ALL the end of chapter questions from CFAI text-book. Don’t bother with questions from Schweser or other 3rd party guidebooks. All questions that you were not able to solve in the first attempt or looks complicated (or you got correct on fluke) should be marked for future reference.

5. Formula Sheet: Make a comprehensive formula sheet and take a glance at it from time to time.

6. Mock Exam: Give your first sample mock and if required keep the formula sheet with you on the first attempt. Try to stick with CFAI mocks and avoid 3rd party mock exams. Tabulate all the scores by segment in an excel sheet. Check the answers and see where you went wrong. Highlight all questions you were incorrect in or got correct by fluke for future reference.

Now you have created a strong base. The next step would be to internalize all the concepts.

Exams are coming up soon. Do not miss this writeup on how to best utilize the last 30 days before the exam.

PHASE 2 (1-2 months)

1. The Mock-Revise loop: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SEGMENT FOR MASTERING THE CFA. What you need to do is take a look at your scores and find your weakest areas. See where you went wrong by looking at answers.Then give another mock exam and repeat the cycle. Track your scores and see whether you are improving in your weak areas. I would recommend that you give at least 3 full mock exams.

2. Examples from CFAI textbook: The CFAI textbooks have excellent examples in all the chapters. Go through all of them and highlight the ones that look tricky or important.

3. Fill in the blanks if you used 3rd party guidebooks: One problem that 3rd party reference books users face is that these books sometimes skip important concepts to condense concepts. MAKE SURE you read the important chapters (like deferred tax) from the original book. Also Analystforum members sometimes make a list of topics that Schweser may have missed.

4. Memorize formulas from the formula sheet:  Carry the formula sheet around wherever you go.

PHASE 3 (Last 30 days)

1. Go back to highlighted questions: Attempt all the questions you have highlighted or marked before and keep doing them until you can get all of them correct

2. Revise entire syllabus by LOS: Go through all the learning objective statements and make sure that you have mastered (not memorization. Memorization does not work) the concepts. Again use the elimination method here as well.

3. Give one last mock exam (Optional): You might want to give a final mock 1-2 weeks before the exam to see your scores. However don’t attempt one too close to the exam as bad scores might affect your confidence.

4. Relax: Don’t forget to take breaks and enjoy time off during the process. I read many novels during my CFA prep time. The key to success for me was proper planning and execution without trying to cram at the 12th hour.

I have also written another piece on ‘how to utilize the last 30 days before the CFA exam‘ which should have extra resources. Be sure to check that out.

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