Category Archives: Finance

7 types of people you will see at the CFA exams

The Dude Bro: Wears a backwards baseball cap, a polo, and plaid shorts; essentially looks like a walking Abercrombie ad. Brings the bare minimum exam tools. Maybe an eraser if he’s feeling a little less confident. Seems to know every other Dude Bro candidate, probably from drunken times at various keggers. Will take any break opportunities to socialize with their frat friends.

The Hopeful Single Girl: Showed up on exam day partially to take advantage of the high male to female ratio. Wears bright-coloured form-fitting top, super tight yoga pants, and a face full of makeup. Travels alone to increase chances of guys approaching her. Spends 10 minutes in the washroom touching up her mascara, prior to catwalking back to her seat.

The Banking Veteran: Older gentleman, fully suited up with a tie. Studied a total of 4hrs, banking on his 30yrs of professional experience to propel him to a passing score. Erroneously thought exam day is another networking opportunity. Gives disgusted looks to the hordes of younger, just-out-of-school candidates running around in sweatpants and flip-flops, blaming these whippersnappers for the ruin of the glory days of banking.

The Nervous Wreck: Spends every minute of lunch break trying to re-hash his notes or memorize another footnote. Brought all 6 curriculum books in a giant backpack in the off chance he needs to refer to it. Refuses to acknowledge the existence of anyone speaking to him, in fear that an extra conversation will set him off his game. Has the most pristine study notes.

The Level I Newbie: Arrived an hour earlier than the reporting time. Allowed enough extra travel time to account for traffic, accidents, schedule changes, and being abducted by aliens. Brought every single writing instrument she could find in her house, in addition to a pencil sharpener, two extra calculators, calculator batteries, and screwdriver to change the battery.

The Lost Cause: Stumbled into the exam room just as the doors were closing. Forgot his calculator. Bloodshot eyes and darkened face from an all-nighter, in which he thought he could learn the entire curriculum. Finishes the AM portion in an hour and sits there for another 15 minutes wondering what to do, observing everyone else furiously writing. Says “fuck it”, doesn’t go back to check his answers, hands in the morning exam, and slogs back home to bed.

The Fob Mob: Group of 4-6 Asians, who arrive to the exam together, take lunch break together, and leave the venue together. Females all wearing some cream-coloured frilly dress appropriate for strawberry-picking. Males all wearing black, rectangular, thick-rimmed glasses and sporting anime hair. Converses in loud Mandarin, opening discussing how they answered every single exam question and posting to some BBS via cellphone, despite knowing it is a violation of the CFA Professional Standards.

Egregious finance douchebaggery

Everyone loves to hate bankers. Their hefty bonuses, inflated egos, and “models and bottles” lifestyle framework often make them a public target for contempt. The prestige of a banking job is coveted far and wide by top business school graduates, and some of these douchebag attributes have trickled down to analyst levels. Let’s examine four infamous case studies:

Aleksey Vayner

Probably the epitome of puffery blown out of proportion. In October 2006, Vayner, a Yale student, sent UBS AG a job application. Except it wasn’t your typical CV+cover letter+transcript+references. No, it was a video resume. “BALLIN!”, you say. Well maybe, sort of. Take a look:

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Emmys 2009 and other bits

On Sunday night I was studying. Okay that’s a lie; I was actually live-streaming the Emmys with the untouched Economics volume propped up in front of me. Neil Patrick Harris is awesome. I don’t usually watch awards shows, but unexpected things happen sometimes *coughKANYEcough*. The awards themselves and finding out the winners don’t really interest me, but I was really impressed with the red carpet fashions. Olivia Wilde was the winner for me – Marchesa does painfully beautiful chiffon. Also I wish I had more free time ’cause now I want to watch 30 Rock and Mad Men.

I will need to chain myself to my books when I’m not at work, so there’s nothing really to look forward to until after my exam. My only forms of entertainment will be the odd TV show (HIMYM and TBBT premiered last night!), and I will live vicariously through my newsfeeds. Tokyo Game Show 2009 begins on Thursday, so here’s hoping for some interesting gaming news. I was scoping out their site and came across this floorplan. If you look on the bottom right where the international pavilions are, you can see that the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade will be represented there. If they mentioned I might get to go to TGS, who knows, I may just have accepted their job offer :P The gaming world is abuzz with yesterday’s big release of Halo 3: ODST (apparently there was even some kind of event going down at the Fermenting Cellar), but there are quite a few good DS games I need to play:

  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. I loved Curious Village, and this one’s turning out to be pretty good too. Except I don’t really care for the mini-games (the camera/tea/cat stuff is so annoying). I think I’m close to the middle of the game, but I refuse to pick it up again before CFA exam cause it’s super addictive :(
  • Scribblenauts. I’ve read so many great reviews, and the gameplay intrigues me so I’ll have to check it out.
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. It comes out on the 29th. I shouldn’t even have to justify why this is on my list.

Aaaaaand I just wanted to highlight a few finance-related articles that caught my interest:


Pretty true.

Pretty true.

In high school, it didn’t take me very long to realize that the things we were learning were going to be either obsolete or not applicable to real life by the time we entered the work force. Most subjects were too simplified and high level. Those four years were mainly used to secure a foundation for higher learning, and to help us develop the skills needed to achieve and strive for further knowledge.

I predicated my future on the basis that through the university courses I take, I would emerge with the necessary education to apply directly to a job related to my field of study. My expectations were that I’d find something I took to – a personal “thing” I enjoyed, and could see a future in. I sort of discovered an interest in finance through process of elimination, but I find that I’m unsatisfied with my learning. I know courses like MATH239 and CO370 are supposed to help with “analytical and critical thinking” development in addition to teaching us the material, but I still feel like it’s a waste of my time.

On the other hand, the finance courses I’ve taken so far don’t seem to go in depth enough. Investment Management was supposed to be interesting, but I feel like I haven’t really learned much. Efficient markets, portfolio theory, options pricing, okay, but it seems that this course is too broad, still “building a foundation”, and there’s still so much more to know. It’s like whenever something starts to become slightly interesting or go in depth, we’d just move on. If everything I ask “why?” to is “beyond the scope of the course”, where am I supposed to find the answer? Would I be forced to pursue post-graduate education? I want to know more; the details, the innards, the linkages, the “icky” parts that are glossed over.

I guess what it comes down to is that I just don’t feel ready to hit the job market. I don’t think I’ve learned everything I need to. And having only one year left, I don’t think I will. I realize more and more that education is no replacement for valuable industry experience. In a strange way I feel that undergrad has failed me. This is just something that’s been frustrating me lately.

Today an NYT article caught my eye: Obama Pushes Broad Rules for Oversight of Derivatives. Basically the US government is considering regulation for standard derivatives (like the ever-so-toxic CDS). With these kinds of articles, I usually find the comments to be more interesting because objectiveness gives me a lot more insight. I think it’s great that major newspapers decided to publish online articles and allow for community discussions. The reader interaction really supplements the content well. Also for some reason, the first thing that popped into my head after reading this piece was the amount of ISDA headaches that would arise… @[email protected]

In other news, I ate cookies for lunch today. Yesterday I had a medium pizza by myself. I’m probably going to die early.