Kelvin Pang has successfully finished all three exams of the CFA programme, with first time passes at all three stages. He joins a select group of analysts worldwide, including Marcus Ow, a Senior Associate with Navigator Project Finance who is a CFA Charter holder.
Kelvin Pang is an Analyst and professional trainer at Navigator. His role is split approximately two thirds modelling, working with clients in the resources, power, property and agricultural sectors and he spends around a third of his time delivering Navigator’s training courses worldwide.
We thought that you might be interested to read about what it takes to not just obtain this qualification, but to do so in the first attempt…..
Before doing the CFA programme you completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Actuarial Studies – why did you choose to study for a CFA?
The CFA programme appealed to me initially because it is globally recognised and the exams could be finished within two years. Later on as I started studying, I found the material really interesting and really useful in my role with Navigator. The content gave me a solid foundation and understanding of the topical areas occurring in the market and the wider finance industry.
What do you think about ‘self-study’?
The self-study style of the programme was hard in the beginning and definitely competed with my work, family and social commitments, but by the end it really suited me as I preferred the flexibility of a self-study style rather than a programme where I had to turn up for group assignments and classes. The downside is there is not the networking opportunity you would experience with a Masters but if you know that going in, then that experience can be achieved through other avenues.
So many people study level 1, but it is renowned for high drop out rates. What odds did you beat, roughly?
The average pass rate for level one is around 35%, it gets slightly better for level two, and increases to around 40% for level three. I don’t know the official statistics of how many go on to finish level three, but based on those pass rates, roughly 6% of people that sit on a level one exam will successfully complete all three levels on first attempt. There are of course more that re-sit certain parts and go on to finish.
So many people, including myself, are often overwhelmed by the amount of material there is to take in. After doing level one I thought I did an equivalent load of a three year commerce undergraduate degree and as I moved on to do level two and three, the material got more complex. When you add increasing job responsibilities to the mix you have a situation where it is about juggling the competing priorities and strict time management, all good skills to develop!
Would you recommend this course to others and what considerations do potential students need to have?
I recommend this course as long as you understand that from start to finish it needs to be a top priority for two years of your life. That means making the necessary sacrifices to your social life and sleep to fit in the recommended 10 – 15 hours of study a week for a solid six months prior to each exam.
Secondly, stay the course. While this is easy to say, it is very hard to do. There will be moments when family and work commitments will get you to think that maybe the CFA programme is not for you, instead I used them to motivate myself to keep going. For instance, I am getting married in March 2011, so the fear of failing and having to re-sit the level three exam in June 2011 motivated me to work even harder!
Lastly, study smart. Allocate about a month before the exam to do past papers and practice exams that are available. After all the hard work, the end result is well worth the effort.