The pass rates of CFA in 2017 stood at an average of 40% to 50% across all the three levels. Going by sheer statistics, the Chartered Financial Analyst exam is one of the toughest in the world. Most of us think such rigorous curriculums and examinations are reserved for just a countable number of bravehearts but that’s not true. It takes few qualities to reach the finishing line and these can be cultivated by any aspirant if he so desires.
Self-motivation: It is natural to doubt your ability when you do not clear the examinations for any of the levels. Do not let these doubts erode your confidence. Failures do not happen because you lack knowledge. It may have happened due to certain other factors. Sit back and identify what you could have done differently or talked to your mentor who can give you a reality check. Working on your weaknesses is the only way to regain confidence and inspire yourself to give it one more shot.
Discipline: To handle an examination like this, you need to have a structured preparation plan in place. It is very easy to be distracted by happenings at the workplace, personal life or somewhere else. Letting go of distractions and focusing on the preparations is the key to discipline. Your preparation plan can have place for all your important activities, but any extra time spent on them will steer you away from your goal gradually.
Time management: Most of the aspirants struggle with a precious resource called time. Time management is important not only during the exam but also during the course of study. This skill, if well-mastered, can take you places even in your professional life as a charter. As per official standards, preparations takes a minimum of 300 hours. These hours or more need to be managed through study cards while traveling, listening to notes during lunch break and dividing the entire preparation into small bits to make it easy.
Agility: Quick decision making is a must-have quality in a professional today. The CFA® Program curriculum trains you to think on your feet not only during preparations but also in the examinations. It takes good speed to lap up the vast amount of reading materials. It also requires a candidate to be quick in doing calculations and answer selection or attempting the case study examinations. Practice, practice and more practice is the key to achieve this!
Focus: The goal should only be thorough preparation and maximum score in the exams. Any deviation from that path should not be entertained at all. The global recognition and rewarding career should be motivation enough for you to stay on the right track.
Eye for detail: A very important trait for a charter is possessing an eye for details. To catch the finer points, reading in between the lines and deriving an analysis out of that is a critical quality for charters that set them above the crowd in professional life. Charter holders are hired in significant roles in an organization because they have this rare skill. Being observant, being a good listener and cultivating an inquisitive mindset are ways to develop this quality.
Ethics: Ethics and honesty are the two fundamental pillars of a financial analyst. Being unbiased in your approach towards work and conducting the operations in a righteous way is what CFA designation teaches you to do. After all, when it comes to handling finances at a senior level, integrity is a paramount quality expected from you.
Communication skills: Communicating findings in a lucid way to the users is key for a financial analyst. The job of a CFA does not end only with analysis, it must be accompanied by a good presentation. As an analyst, you must be able to enhance the value of your analysis in order to avoid any kind of misinterpretations that could occur.
Strong writing skills: Level III of the examinations consists of constructed response or essay type questions. This requires strong command over the English language and good writing skills. Proper construction of sentences, structured way of putting across your thoughts, simplicity in words and concise answers are the constituents of strong writing skills. These can be achieved with a lot of reading and taking a lot of mock tests.
Continuous quest for knowledge: It is said that a person stops growing when he stops learning. Same goes for a CFA® Program exam too. To evolve as a successful professional, you need to nurture your curiosity and keep yourself abreast of the latest happenings in the world. A simple question can lead to deeper layers of the answer and make you a better analyst. So be curious to stay ahead in the game!
Conclusion: CFA is not just about passing the levels
CFA is a holistic profession and merely passing the three levels is not enough. You need to inculcate the above-mentioned qualities in yourself in order to be an upright financial analyst and a professional who people can rely on.
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