Record Number of Candidates Sit for CFA Exam

from Bloomberg

A new crop of chartered financial analysts is in the making this weekend. A record number of more than 250,000 candidates registered to take the exam.

The Level 1 test, the first of three needed to earn the designation, involves 240 questions over six hours on topics ranging from equity investments and market psychology to fixed income and derivatives. Last year, fewer than half of the candidates passed the first level, according to the Charlottesville, Virginia-based CFA Institute.

Pursuing the credential “is a very rigorous process, with less than one in five candidates successfully completing it to earn the charter,” Paul Smith, the institute’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

In 2018, 156,752 candidates took the first-level test, a 19% annual increase driven by growth in the Asia Pacific region. More than 23,000 people sat for December’s exam in mainland China, nearly double the U.S. total.

Anyone can try their hand at a sample exam on the institute’s website.

For actual candidates, the fixed-income and derivatives questions are the most challenging, Business Insider quoted Alex King, a CFA director, as saying.

“Here are my strengths, and here is how they apply to what you’re trying to do.”

His name is Paul Cameron and he’s founded the company Speed Up My Job  I thought he made some good points.

He lists 7 things you should do when researching a company.

Research a company’s

Product line
Find out what industry they’re in.
Company size
Time: How long they’ve been in business.
Their locations, domestically and internationally
Are they public or private?
Recent News.  Look to press releases.  Search for them at Google News.

“here are my strengths, and here is how they apply here to what you’re trying to do.”

No. 1 & 2 Jobs in America: Data Scientists & Software Developers

Data scientists and software developers use programming language such as Python, followed by R, SQL, Hadoop, and the more well-known Java, according to careers site Glassdoor. A mid-level data scientist is likely to be proficient in Python, R and SQL, Java, Python and JavaScript and make close to $130,000 a year. Google GOOG-0.15% Aetna AET and Microsoft MSFT-0.38% typically hire people for these roles. are among the top programming languages.

Python, R, SQL, Hadoop, Java, and JavaScript.

Upon graduation from college, “you were a star with great prospects. Once you start work, you’re on the ground floor. . . .”

20 sobering reminders from Nick Corcodilos from his “Your First Job: 20 Pointers for New Graduates.”

A dad told me his son — who has an advanced STEM degree and recently got his first job — is unhappy that he isn’t getting more challenging work to do so he can hit home runs and get recruited by other companies for a higher salary.

It seems the young man was taught by his college that’s what he should expect, right out of the gate.

Whatever you’ve been told by the school you attended, this is likely what new graduates will find at their first jobs. Be prepared.

  1. Your academic credentials get you hired, because you have little or no experience that an employer can judge you on.
  2. Once you’re hired, your credentials don’t matter.
  3. Once you’re hired, what matters is your ability and willingness to learn the job and business you’re in. Especially if it’s your first job, that takes all your time, devotion and hard work.
  4. When you graduated from college or grad school, you were at the top of your academic game. You were a star with great prospects.
  5. Once you start work, you’re on the ground floor, on the bottom rung, low person on the totem pole, the plebe, the newbie, the unskilled and clueless neophyte that needs to prove themselves all over again.

Continue reading. . . .

Getting Around Online Job Boards

As valuable as they are, you need to find a workaround for getting around those online job boards.  I’ve extracted three key points from the video below, which is a bit dated [2012] but I think the message is still relevant and valuable.  You’ll notice, too, how the pages for specific jobs on the job boards ask you how you heard about the company or the job, and one of the choices given is “Jobs Board.”  Rather than click on “Jobs Board” or a particular one, like Indeed, it might be better to opt for “Other,” and when asked to explain, type in “Reputation.” 

Yet, if you still decide to use online job boards, you’ll need to treat any replies that you receive from there as though they came from very sincere people and you’ll need to respond to them in kind, even if it is a rejection you need to say thank you in the same breath that you tell them that you’re disappointed.   


At the 8:07-mark, John Franklin says to “pound the pavement, make phone calls, contact alumni organizations, go to job fairs, and build those kinds of networks that enable you to make the contacts that get you the job.”  The lack of specificity here leaves one predictably helpless.  The strategy is too general.  


Peter Capelli says at the 8:16-mark . . . 

To get around the system.  Get to somebody who knows the person who is doing the hiring [easier said than done] and can make the case to them.  That’s the best way around the conundrum of applicant tracking systems and software that is not smart enough to process everybody correctly.  

That sounds like good advice.  Just how does one get from point A to point B.  Use some ingenuity.


At the 8:34-mark, the narrator starts “And perhaps you shouldn’t even bother with online applications says Nick Corcodilos.  “The whole secret is think carefully about where you’d like to work.  Even if you’re young, life is short.  You’re going to have very few good jobs in your life, so ask yourself ‘Who are the shining light companies you’d love to work for?’  Pick those companies out and go pursue them like a mad dog.” 8:55

Not the most encouraging advice for a rational human . . . but perhaps more practical than relying on cyberspace in 2012.

This video was embedded on Nick Corcodilos’ site, the Ask the Headhunter, on how to understand rejection letters. 

What I would like to know more about is how to reply to rejection letters.  His point is well-taken.  If you’re given the polite dismissal in writing, would you really want to work with that company in the first place?  He’s got a point.  But what if you need a job . . . bad[ly]?  Does one apply again and expecting different results?  Does one go in through the company front door, ask for the hiring manager, drop off a resume, or ask for an interview?  This would have been more interesting.  Instead, Nick relies on the signal given by the email itself–that given how bad the email was that no one should work for them to begin with.  

Lists help you see things a bit clearer than the wording or description in a job ad

I always recommend that you count the cost of any effort, any endeavor, any commitment.  Especially jobs, for it’s here where employers are greedy for your time more than anything.  Time is your greatest asset and your strongest negotiating point.  A lot of employers expect you to work 50 hours.  They need this because they don’t have the staff or the overhead to pay folks to manage.  They’re doing the managing.  And the first thing they want to manage is your time.  Fifty hours a week cut into your ability to work on your legacy–that skill or insight which no one else has that makes you irreplaceable.  But if you’re going to work 50 hours, like many of us do, then you’ll need to count your pay against the number of hours you put in.  Getting paid $1,500 a week sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but if you’re asked to commit 50 or 60 hours a week, then there’s nothing left in your week for anything else.  Expect to have no social life, I mean zero unless finding yourself alone in a bar is your definition of social life.

When looking for a job, I like to make lists.  Lists help you see things a bit clearer than the wording or description penned by the secretary or hiring manager at a company.  Often times pay is left out and you have to call the company and if you can find someone who knows, ask them what the position pays.  But you need to calculate the pay against the hours.  Like I said, if you’re getting paid $1,500 a week, calculate that against the hours.  40 hours a week means you’re getting paid $37 an hour.  That’s not bad pay.  But what are you doing for that?  Is the work physically demanding, maybe even physically risky?  What are the chances of getting hurt or hit or bumped around to the point where you’re spending more money on care and repair of your body than you are on the goals that caused you to pursue the job in the first place?  So lots of things to calculate.  So because I like lists, I made one for a friend who drives a truck in Colorado.

Hourly pay Weekly pay Job Title Location
$20-$28 $800-$832 Street & Deck Coating Technician


Barrier Companies

$16-$17 $640-$680 Surveillance Field Investigator

Digistream Investigations
$15-$36 $600-$1480 Field Technician (Electrician)

Medley Networks
$13 $25k to $35k/yr Delivery Driver

Castle Pines Winwater Works
$39 $75k to $115k/yr Fracking Equipment operator

HIRE Upstream, Henderson
$25-$30 $1,000 to $1,200 Ready Mix Driver, B or A CDL

Mudd Runners


Be Your Own Credential

This was stunningly good.

Here are Tom Woods’ Show notes.

MOOREHOUSE [5:43]:  Paper credentials won’t launch your career you’ve got to be your own credential.  You’ve got to prove your ability to create value quickly.  You’ve got to showcase . . . look, take it into your own hands.  Don’t get caught just following rules, getting a degree, and then just hoping that someone will want to hand you a paycheck.  You’ve got to put yourself in the driver’s seat, build a body of work, find some roles that matter, build a profile to prove what you can do, and go after businesses and companies you want to work for with a tailored pitch.  That’s really the core of what the book is all about.  It’s just a quick little playbook on how to think that way. . . . It’s not that it takes some genius level mastery.  It just takes grit and willingness to put in some real work. [6:40]

WOODS:  The unique challenges of today’s economy.  Millennials are getting frustrated and capitalism.

MOREHOUSE [8:15]: People get worried about automation.  Computers are better at following rules.  Robots are going to take my job.  Worried, people go get degrees.  Use technologies to leverage what is uniquely human.  Creative problem solving, innovation, being adaptive.  And the things you can do with technology.  I heard an investor say, “I don’t want a world where everyone is afraid that robots are taking their jobs, I want everyone to have their own Iron Man suit of information.  Be your own credential.  Put together something.  If I want you to hire me in a marketing role, instead of just saying I have a BA in marketing, I can say “Here’s this profile I together, where you can see me walking through on a short video how I set up a campaign using MailChimp, how I set up a landing page, and here I built this for you.”  You can show people more information about your skill and ability than you ever able to in the past.  That people used to have to trust you.  [And by the way, that trust is very tenuous and delicate: you have to prove yourself quickly and competently.  Then people trust you.]  And that’s why they looked for credentials because if they didn’t know you, someone had to vouch for you.  You can vouch for yourself now.  Using the technology available to you. [10:00]

WOODS [10:02]: The MailChimp example, which I know you chose at random, is nevertheless quite a potent one because MailChimp is an example of something that performs a task that people are familiar with–it’s an email autoresponder service and I use it for my main newsletter–but it can also do (most people use 3% of the functions)–it can also do truly amazing things.  And the real expert at it knows the truly amazing things.  The person looking at your video thinks, “Oh, yeah, somebody’s going to show me about email.”  But they’ll say that we can trigger an entire email campaign if somebody clicks this link or somebody orders this product, then we trigger this follow-up sequence that will do this.  And then we can do . . . the things that you can do.  And then we can take the email list, upload it to Facebook.  Facebook will find those people on Facebook.  And we can target them on Facebook too.  We can follow them wherever they go.  A lot of employers, especially small ones, don’t even know this is an option.  And you’ve got some whizkid who’s stirring that up for you in three minutes?  Yeah, get that kid in here. [11:05]

MOREHOUSE [11:05]:  Information is now free, right, so there are no secrets you’re going to find in school that you can’t find if you really want on your own.  And so like a tool, like MailChimp [tutorials], very simple tool, you can go and learn it relatively quickly at a level that makes you instantly valuable on the marketplace.  It’s funny, we look at a lot of, like resumes that are just a list of stuff you did in school, and most young people have no idea, just take tools alone, forget about more advanced skills and things, the basic software tools that are used in the world of business, most young people have never head of them.  Most young people barely know how to use email or use Google Calendar Invite.  And again, this is simple stuff.  Take, ah, something like Salesforce, it’s a very important, powerful sales tool that sales teams use in almost every company.  If you take an hour going around, finding some free YouTube [Salesforce] videos and some [Salesforce] tutorials and you learn enough about Salesforce to say to a company, “Hey, I’m conversant in this,” They’ll see that and that will mean more to them than any test that you passed about Sociology or History.  So just becoming familiar with some of the things that are valued in the marketplace, and going out and learning them and, here’s the key, finding a way to prove that knowledge.  It’s not enough to say “I know it.”  If you can combine that with a little bit of proof, that says “I know Salesforce, here’s a one minute video of me walking through to do a basic task.”  It doesn’t have to be anything advanced, but that puts you above almost everybody else out there on the market. [12:37]

WOODS [12:38]:  Well, just to return to that MailChimp example, in case you don’t believe us when we say that all it takes is to sit in front of some tutorials for a week, you’ll know more than at least 95% of the world if not more, even I hired somebody to be on retainer for the technical end of my email marketing.  Now I don’t use him that much.  But I could learn what he knows probably if I devoted a week to it, I could.  But I have no desire to learn that, not because I don’t have the time but because that doesn’t appeal to me at all.  Even though I love email, and I’m really interested in getting better at it, the technical side bores me to death.  I don’t want to know, I just want somebody to do it for me.  And there’are going to be a lot of people out there like that, “Oh they must already know all this stuff.”  Even if they do, or even if it’s just a week’s worth of knowledge away, nobody wants to. [13:30] 

MOOREHOUSE [13:32]:  I’m gonna give away one little secret of this book that might be the most powerful little thing in there.  You’ve got to overcome this fear of exploitation mindset.  Or this entitlement mindset.  The company owes me a paycheck, and I don’t want to be exploited.  The trick is secret: it’s free work.  If you want somebody to take a chance on you, you lower the cost to them on taking a chance on you.  Do something for them for free before they’ve even hire you.  Concrete example: podcasts.  Everyone has them, a lot of companies have them now, but it takes time to edit them, to add the intro and the outro, and all these little things.  Say you want to, as a young person, I don’t know, I don’t have a ton of skills, I want to go work for somebody doing podcast editing.  The best way to do that is not to put together a resume and send it out and say please hire me.  The best way to do that is to find 5 or 10 podcasts you like, go listen to a couple of clips, go put together . . . you know, take two minutes worth of little soundbites from the Tom Woods’ Show where Tom Woods is saying amazing stuff, put it to some cool inspirational music and some pictures, put it in a little video on YouTube, and then email Tom and say, “Hey Tom, love your show.  Put together this little thing for you.  Hope you like it.  You can use it however you like to.  I would love to do if you ever have any projects that require some audio/video editing, I’d love to help you out or if you know of anybody else.”  That’s it.  Now you’ve made something for Tom for free.  You’ve done something, you’ve created value first.  Now even if Tom isn’t hiring for that, it’s really hard to not at least reply to the email and say thanks.  To not at least give the person a chance.  And maybe Tom will say, “Well I don’t need anybody, but I know that Isaac has a podcast.  “Hey, Isaac, check out this kid.  He made this thing for me.  You know, do you need anybody who needs podcast editing?”  That’s how I had the first person do podcast editing for me and then I ended up referring to 5 other people and now he’s got a side gig doing podcast editing for people.  Because he did the work first, so if you can do free work, that is a great way to get your foot in the door. [15:47]

WOODS [15:48]:  The example you give in the book, I won’t give away.  See Candidate B’s strategy from the bo

Adopt a playful, experimental mindset to put yourself in the driver’s seat.  

Moorehouse’s book helps put the value of a college degree in perspective before he givse examples on how to add value.  

The credential played a key role in the 20th-century economy. Information is hard to come by. As jobs became more complex and companies larger, managers had to hire complete strangers and entrust them with important stuff. But if we’ve never met, how can I tell you’re legit?

Isaac Morehouse’s book is titled Crash Your Career.  Follow him on Twitter.  Launch your career with a skills profile here.