An Innocent in the very first part of a three-part journey (Part I)

“During that memorable day I basked in the happiness of being for once in my life drifting with the tide of a great popular movement. Everybody was studying CFA – I, too, was studying CFA. Everybody was passing CFA level 1 – I, too, was passing CFA level 1…”

A parody of Paragraph 4, Chapter 2, “The Innocents Abroad” written by Mark Twain

I was so much into the book as mentioned in my previous post and then, when I found what happened to me somehow resembled what happened to Mark Twain nearly 150 years ago, I thought of such paragraph without further consideration. The only thing that was different is that everyone in the story of Mark Twain would love to go to Paris, venturing into a journey to Europe and the Holy Land, we, however, embarked on the journey to conquer a “so-called” prestigious certification in Finance.

Fortunately, I was not the pioneer in this journey. Actually, there have been many friends of mine starting sitting for CFA exams before me 2 or 3 years since we were still students at university. In my CFA class, I was also among the most senior of the class with 2 years of experiences while my classmates were mainly still third or fourth year students at university.

The state of not being among the pioneers somehow brought about some perks. Witnessing both the success and failure during the first two years embarking upon the career path of the ones who passed one or two levels offered me with a chance of not looking the prospect after CFA examinations through rosy tinted glasses. But there were not only perks. You have two years of working experiences in an accounting firm, then, it comes as a surprise to more than one for me to pursue CFA. The first one I met in my class asked me: “Why CFA? Why not kind of ACCA or CPA?” I gently answered: “Well, ACCA and CPA are not my cups of tea and I just think of venturing into something beyond my current experience zone. I have done a lot of researches and made lots of consideration between these designations before choosing CFA.” A few days later, I met an old friend from university. He asked me: “Why CFA? You are working in KPMG and it comes as a little bit surprise to me that you decided to take CFA. Do you intend to switch to another job?” Then, by a magical chance, the third one, the fourth one, the fifth one, and then the nth one kept asking me the same questions. When it came to the (n+1)th person and I could not bear the sight of such surprising expressions on their faces any more, I decided to leave them with their own assumptions.

But it is not totally a bad experience. Actually, they helped me speak out the questions that has long lingered in my mind and force me to think more about the path I was about to embark upon. These questions came as clearer to me when I realized how I was far behind my fellows in all these finance-related stuff and made me wonder if I had taken a wrong path. Every time I fell into such state of over-thinking, I recalled my application essay for the CFA Program Access Scholarships that I wrote a year ago about the reason that I would like to earn CFA Charter. I disregarded all the old reasons like “a strong interest in finance” or “a burning desire to pursue a career path in investment industry”. I put much more emphasis on my own ideology of learning for learning’s sake and my ultimate life purpose of personal development in both intellectual and emotional capacities, which then made me believe that the toughness of the program and its wide range of subjects may help me achieve my own purposes. “What an innocent girl!”, they may think, I suppose. And they decided that this scholarship should not be granted to such an innocent one. Such decision made it more difficult for that girl to decide if she would like to continue this journey. She, then, should have made the most expensive decision in her life so far. She paid USD1,050 to register for the program, venturing into an investment of which she had not much idea about the exit.

Fortunately, I passed the exam, with not so high the score in comparison with my peers. 8 subjects reached beyond 70 while one fell under the range of 51-70 and one fell under 50. And I am so eager to register for CFA Level 2. Actually, I do not know what comes after Level 2, maybe Level 3 and then what comes after Level 3. But it may be like gambling and once you get hooked to the gamble, you refused the right to leave the game. Back to the Judgment Day, which has just taken place a few days ago, I felt like there were thousands of butterflies hovering in my stomach. I held my breath for a little while whenever there was a notification bouncing up in my phone. I started to feel worried when my classmates had already received emails of congratulations and I had received none. I remembered the moment when that bold unread item came up in my inbox and I clumsily touched to open the email with my shaking hand. My heart skipped a beat before I almost burst into tear upon the sight of the magical word “Congratulations!” I yelled out loud, jumping around the room and giving my father a very tight hug, and said: “Wow, I passed it!”

(To be continued)

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