Three Recent MSU Graduates Pass the First Level of the CFA Exam
Some Montana State University (MSU) students in finance and economics have started to pursue their Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification. On January 27, the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute announced the results for the December 2009 CFA exam, with three out of four MSU graduates who took the test passing it. College of Business (CoB) students Eric Bertelsen, Cairn Clark and Austin Owens were all notified of their success. Chase Basta, a 2008 graduate, took and passed the exam last June.
Approximately 50,000 people around the world took the exam the first Saturday in December. Only 34% of them passed. A BusinessWeek article stated that applicants for the CFA exam hope it will lead to better jobs and higher salaries, as well as a deeper understanding of finance, but the trade off is a recommended 300 hours of study for each of the three six-hour tests. The 34% pass rate is the lowest percentage of passing candidates in four years. Tom Robinson, the institute’s managing director of education, believes that the pass rate may have declined because the test-takers were less serious than previous groups.
That is not the case with MSU’s students. The CoB students passing the exam are testaments to the high quality of education they’ve received in the CoB, at MSU, and the hands-on nature of the faculty.
Clark had this to say about the CoB and the preparation for the exam.
“While other schools boast name recognition, we had access to something different. We had five finance professors that were willing to develop personal relationships with their students outside of the classroom and simultaneously create an excitement and passion for finance. There is no better motivator than knowing you have a great set of mentors behind you every step of the way, especially when you are devoting a large chunk of your life to studying for exams that many people consider ‘life ruining.’ I’m hoping that the obsession with finance that I picked up on the fourth floor of Reid will take me a lot farther in my career than having an Ivy League stamp on my resume.”
This first exam tested topics ranged from ethical standards and securities valuation to financial statement analysis and portfolio management. Owens said the key components to doing well on the test were diligence in study habits and a solid foundation gained through the finance program. He described sacrifices ranging from reduced sleep patterns and lack of social interaction to having the bulk of his daily caloric intake come from coffee.
Owens is pleased with the outcome of the first exam but he is already looking to the next test and is up to his neck in textbooks and study materials. “The finance faculty’s dedication and excellence in instruction more than adequately prepared us for the Level I exam and will continue to guide us in our studies throughout the next two rounds,” says Owens. We wish them all the best of luck.