None Shall Pass (well, almost none)

The news came on Monday. Around 10:00 a.m., I saw an email from CFA Institute pop up in my in-box. Heart hammering wildly, I uttered a four-letter word and clicked on the message. Leaning into the monitor, I quickly scanned the message until I saw another four-letter word – the sweetest one imaginable to a CFA candidate: 


My jaw dropped to the ground, and I leaned in closer to read it again. Pass.  I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t, to some degree. But there it was – I had passed Level 2 of the CFA examination. One floor below me, my coworker and fellow blogger Harli was having a similar experience. We called each other and shared our good news, after which there was much jubilation and general merriment (i.e., lots of eating and drinking – and yes, we waited until after 5 p.m. to do the latter, thank you very much). I later discovered that another member of the Parsec family (CEO Bart Boyer’s son, Travis) had also passed Level 2. As Bart said, “Three from Parsec – that’s statistically significant!”

Sadly, I can’t say that a majority of my fellow test-takers were enjoying the same elation. According to the CFA Institute, the pass rate for Level 2 this year was a paltry 39%, lower than last year’s 41% and the second-lowest in history. Not to mention the fact that this year saw a record number of applicants – 139,900 candidates enrolled for all three exams, 52,500 of whom took Level 2. To put that in perspective, there are only 89,630 CFA charterholders in the world right now (a charterholder being someone who has passed all three exams and who meets the professional and ethical standards required by the CFA Institute). The CFAI website describes the Chartered Financial Analyst program as a graduate-level, self-study program that requires candidates to learn and apply investment knowledge, and includes such topics as asset valuation, financial statement analysis, economics, portfolio management, and ethics. To quote the website, “it is recognized globally as the gold standard investment credential.”

Now, before anyone calls a demolition crew to widen the doors so I can fit my big head through, I have to tell you it is not normally within my comfort zone to brag about myself. Quite the contrary, I was raised to be modest to a fault and always downplay my accomplishments. But I just can’t keep quiet about this one. After spending the last few years studying during lunch hours, the kids’ naps, and at night after the kids (and husbands) are in bed, I think we’re entitled to a little horn-tooting. Granted, we’re not finished yet – still one more level to go, but hey, we’re 2/3 of the way there. As Bill (one of Parsec’s managing partners and a CFA charterholder who knows well the pain) put it, we can at least see light at the end of the tunnel – and it sure looks good.

Sarah DerGarabedian

Research and Trading Associate

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