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, It contains my purchase confirmation and tracking number for my 18.0 lbs of study guides.


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which is better and most of my web-searching on the topic has turned up forum threads that are 5+ years old, possibly out-of-date.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,! 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.

8 thoughts on “Track of the Pack”

  1. I just registered for my re-take of Level II and like you and in a similar boat of my lack of qualified CFA work experience!

  2. Lumi,

    Congrats and Best of luck !!

    1) Dont worry about ordering schweser right now, and charge your credit card some more !!. Even if you ordered it right now, you wont get it till mid or end september i believe (you can call and ask them about the release date). The schweser team probably is going through the new materials and making updates to their course package. 🙂

    So you don’t have to commit to buying it right now. You should get the CFAI text for sure.

    Oh and I am not paid by anyone to give that recommendation :). Just saying because you said about that website on this post.

    2) Yes, thats the package I got. the minimum package that has Qbank with it, and nothing else.

    3) Qbank is good for practice but like i warned you before, it disappointed me very much for Level 2 actual test. However, we cant predict the future so I still would advise you to exhaust all of Qbank.

    I have never used Stalla so cant comment on it. However, CFAI comes NOWHERE CLOSE to explaining complex topics like Schweser does.

    4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, this time do end of chapter CFAI questions in its entirety. People who took the level 2 before have the advantage of knowing most of the material already. No reason to give up the advantage. Use all of the time till June to get to study all the details that usually we just skip over.

  3. Gurdeep and David – wishing you lots of luck this time around. May fortune smile upon all of us with Level II prior service.

    Drymartini – thanks much again for the continued guidance! i will definitely hold off til september on the schweser. i’m itching for the CFAI study guides to arrive to get started. like your comment re: starting early so that you can focus on the details rather than just the big picture. i think that may have been what i was missing last time around.


  4. I just signed up for L2 today. I just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed your exam day entry. I can attest to the rain storm during the lunch break in Jacksonville…..because I was there too! I took L1 so we were in different rooms. I did notice the plush room you were in. I was also in a hotel room the night before cramming those last minute nuggets of information into my already overstuffed brain.

  5. Another good practice before the exam is the BSAS-administered mock exam. The exam is a great diagnosis of your weak areas, and the timing is perfect, about 3-4 weeks before the actual exam. If nothing else, it’s a great tune up for your neck muscles for the 6 hours of hovering over the actual exam. Contact your local CFA chapter to see if they offer the mock exam. I took the first one in Montreal and the last two in Boston.

    Level 2 is tough. A few CPAs have told me that the accounting on pension, VIE, and currency is not easy even to them.

    As for passing the exams, the only thing I feel is a sense of relief. No great shaft of light opened up from the heavens to show me a smooth path forward.

  6. Thanks for the tips Patrick.

    Yellowman – I’ve started and am progressing a bit slowly. Kinda waiting for the Schweser materials to show up to really get me into the full swing…

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