Track of the Pack

Alrighty then! Re-registered for Level II and now $570 closer to my credit card limit. The normal price is $620, but they give you $50 back if you’re returning for the same level. Shortly thereafter an email arrived in my inbox from a very special someone I only hear from once a year, scheduler@pbd.com. It contains my purchase confirmation and tracking number for my 18.0 lbs of study guides.

cfa_tracking

Strange, but I’m sort of excited and looking forward to getting back on this horse!

While waiting I’ve been perusing the Stalla and Schweser sites. I can’t really tell which is better and most of my web-searching on the topic has turned up forum threads that are 5+ years old, possibly out-of-date. I did find one site totally devoted to answering this question, stallaorschweser.com! Their survey results are different than I expected, just based on which has been most recommended to me. Wondering if their poll is getting gamed by a well-paid covert traveler, voting over and over again from all open Wi-Fi networks across the land…

From what I’ve gathered both 3rd parties have individual elements of their curriculums which are great, and if you could order à la carte you’d pick some from each company. But you can’t so I think I’m going to go with the Schweser Essential Prep Package. I’ve always been a learn-on-my-own kind of student and it has 3 good self-study elements: notes on the material, practice exams, and a bank of exam questions. Too introverted for interactive online classes and too proud to ask for help during office hours, thank you very much.

Had to shake my head as I registered for the Level II exam again, checking “Does Not Apply” to all the questions about my additional asset management work experience gained over the past year. I still have no CFA qualified work experience! This sent me back online to revisit the prospect and process of becoming a registered investment adviser. I’m not sure how exactly it fits into my fulfilling the CFA requirements, it just seems to nebulously increase my degrees of freedom with respect to how to do it.

The only thing that has delayed me from getting Series 65’d and going down this path is that the annual paperwork, record-keeping, etc. involved in staying “current” with the SEC could be a real headache. If so, I’d better be sure that the RIA is something I really want and need. I found an RIA blogger to query and told him that my annual filing with the state for my LLC takes about 3 minutes – is that comparable? He said for the RIA to think in terms of hours, not minutes – possibly dozens. I was also told that it will change my way of operating, where I’m approaching everything from the point of view of compliance. Couldn’t decide whether that was good or bad…

There are a few loopholes that allow an individual to give paid investment advice without being an RIA. One is that most states have de minimis exceptions, where if you’re a very tiny operation you’re considered “too trivial to be worthy of the law’s attention”. Ouch!

A more interesting option was found here (see the heading “Newsletters”) which seems to imply that you’re free to publish a newsletter on financial advice without having to register with the SEC, as long as you disclose your holdings and the content is “general”, meaning not individualized differently to each subscriber.

Assuming I’m reading between the lines correctly, this almost seems to make the most sense for a part-time one-man operation. Your readers buy your newsletter, which is about what changes YOU are making to YOUR policy portfolio(s), with the unwritten implication that they are free to copycat if they like. Even more satisfying is that you can teach people this way, setting them up to eventually do it themselves (though not so good for business). And if you get your Level II exam results back next year – fail again – and have a fatal brain aneurism, they’re not left worrying who to call to get their assets transferred back.