Failed the CFA exam? Plan your next steps

Each year, roughly 250,000 candidates appear for the CFA exams around the world in an attempt to claim what is widely considered the “gold standard” within the investment community, the CFA charter.

It is no surprise that the intense difficulty of the CFA exams leads to the majority of the candidates failing at least once. It is, without a doubt, a highly disappointing and disheartening place to be in. However, it is important to see the bigger picture and not lose perspective when attempting to gain a qualification as coveted as the CFA. On the brighter side, candidates gain experience and can appear for their next attempt with a higher level of confidence.

The recently held CFA exams in November 2021 have shown a consistent trend across all three levels, alarmingly low pass rates. While the Covid-19 pandemic may be considered as a contributing factor to this phenomenon, it is important to focus on what are the ideal next steps one must take to ensure that they achieve success in the next attempt.

 

Better prepared for next attempt

The average CFA candidate spends about four years before gaining the charter, which shows that most fail at least one exam on their journey. While it may lead one to believe that 300 hours of study have been wasted, it is important to remember that a significant part of the preparation for the next attempt has already been completed leading the thought of “wastage” to turn into “investment”.

Can you attempt again?

Candidates are allowed to appear for each level of the CMA exam a maximum of six times, a policy that was instituted in 2021. Also beginning with the 2021 exams, candidates can take an exam up to two times per calendar year but cannot take the exam in windows that are consecutive or less than 6 months apart.

Plan your next attempt

The first step to deciding when to retake the exam is to assess your previous exam preparation experience. How many hours did you spend preparing? Did you consistently stick to a structured study plan? Are there other study materials that could help you pass your next exam? Examine how you will approach exam prep differently going forward, reflect on your own personal/professional goals, and consider the various exam window options offered by CFA Institute to determine when to retake the CFA exam.

In general, we recommend retaking the exam as soon as possible, especially if you can do so in the same calendar year. Registering for the next possible exam is best for the following reasons:

  • Momentum is on your side. Even if you have been taking a break since your last exam, all of the effort you put into preparing for it is relatively fresh.
  • The longer you wait to retake the exam, the higher the likelihood that you will forget the material that you have already learned.

It is particularly important to retake the exam in the same calendar year, if at all possible, since CFA Institute changes the CFA curriculum on an annual basis. Retaking the exam before these annual updates will give you a higher probability of passing because you will be more familiar with the curriculum being tested.

Studying for the next attempt

Regardless of which exam you decide to sign up for, we have some recommendations for approaching the next exam attempt:

  • Carefully review your exam results and use them as a diagnostic tool to help guide your studies on the next attempt.
  • Organize your study plan to focus on weak areas first. Your study plan should be weighted heavily toward practicing the material using the SchweserPro QBank and end-of-chapter questions in the CFA curriculum.
  • After doing additional practice, if you are still performing poorly, revisit the CFA SchweserNotes and OnDemand class videos to relearn the concepts with which you are struggling.

Continue this process until one month prior to the exam and then focus on a well-structured final review process.

For final review, focus heavily on practicing what you have learned, but with the CFA Schweser Mock Exams rather than the SchweserPro QBank. After completing a mock exam, thoroughly review the answer explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly. Make certain you understand the logic behind the correct answer. Also, be sure to use the OnDemand Review videos to sharpen your exam strategy and ensure you retain information for the exam.

Finally, get help through our InstructorLink tool if you are still struggling with the material. We want you to succeed on the CFA exams and are always ready to help. If you are looking to enroll in CFA course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!

Journey to the ACCA Membership

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Qualification is a prominent symbol of expertise, due to its relevance to each and every area of accountancy and finance. It presents you with the choice of working in many different financial roles and at senior levels within an organization.

The ACCA membership is a highly sought-after accolade in the accounting industry. Employers respect the qualification and value the skills and contribution ACCA accountants make to their organization. As an ACCA-qualified accountant, you will be in demand for having the right skills.

To become a member of ACCA, one needs to successfully clear a set of exams that can be rigorous and challenging. Currently, there are about 230,000 qualified members of ACCA across the world, and around 530,000 enroute the path to membership. With such a high demand for the qualification, candidates often seem to get confused about the various routes of entry to the ACCA at different stages of their professional careers.

This article will help you in understanding the different stages in the journey to earning the ACCA membership.

Becoming an ACCA Affiliate

High School Students

If you are a high school student looking to kickstart your preparation to enter the corporate world in a few years, then ACCA would be an excellent choice. As a school student, you can begin your ACCA journey early and build a career towards being a certified chartered accountant by the age of 20. ACCA has flexible requirements on the minimum age of the candidates, so you can start as early as you feel you are prepared to take on the challenge!

University Students

University students are the most common age group of candidates currently pursuing the ACCA qualification. A significant benefit of pursuing the ACCA in this stage is that selected universities for selected degrees across the world offer exemptions of up to 9 ACCA exams, leaving only 4 exams to be completed. This is often a critical decision-making factor for students when choosing the university and the degree after high school as it helps in helps expedite their accounting journey.

In the UAE, universities such as the Middlesex University, University of Wollongong Dubai, and Heriot-Watt University among others offer degrees that qualify for the ACCA exemptions.

Alternatively, if you are already an ACCA student, then you have the opportunity to simultaneously earn a BSc degree in Applied Accounting from the prestigious, Oxford Brookes University in the UK and an MSc in Professional Accountancy from the University of London – one of the top universities in London. Both the degrees can be studied online without having to move to the UK and are an excellent route to take when studying for ACCA.

Experienced Professionals

If you are an experienced working professional and hold a relevant, fully accredited degree from a recognized university, you can get your educational credentials evaluated by ACCA at the time of your registration. Based on the relevance of your previous education, you may be granted exemptions to complete the ACCA qualification by attempting the remaining few exams.

Professional Ethics Module

The ACCA Professional Ethics Module is an online ethics module that must be completed before, at the same time, or soon after you become eligible, having completed the previous 9 exams or received exemptions for them.

You also need to complete this online module to achieve the BSc degree awarded by Oxford Brookes University.

Work Experience Requirement

To be able to qualify for the ACCA membership, you need to have acquired 36 months or 3 years of relevant work experience that can be completed before, at the same time, or after you clear the exams.

An important thing to note here is that these 3 years of work experience can be a non-full-time role, an internship, voluntary work, or even a self-employed role spread over a span of several years. To summarize, the ACCA requires a cumulative work experience of 3 years completed regardless of the continuity.

 

If you are interested in joining hands with an ACCA-approved tuition provider to help make your ACCA journey easier, then Kaplan Professional Middle East is here to offer you the expertise of having helped students to successfully ace their ACCA exams for several years with the industry’s leading trainers. If you are looking for ACCA courses in Dubai join us as a student to kickstart your ACCA exam preparation.

Top 7 differences between CMA vs CPA

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For many candidates seeking to grow in the field of accounting, a common question arises when choosing between two certifications: CMA vs CPA? Considering the importance of the decision and the impact it can have on someone’s career, it is only fair that candidates invest considerable time and energy before they come to a conclusion.

The CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant and is a certification pursued by individuals keen on learning budgeting and management accounting while the CPA is short for Certified Public Accountant that offers skills and knowledge in the field of auditing, management accounting, accounts handling, taxation, etc. Both certifications function as value additions in accounting however they have a difference in their approach. As explained above, a CMA handles the cost and financial analysis whereas a CPA overlooks tax and auditing.

To begin with, it is important to understand the difference between the two certifications and the perks that each of them offers. This article will provide you with insights on the key differences in seven important areas to help you make an informed choice.

 

Awarding Body and Member Network

The CMA certification is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) that has a widespread network of over 140,000 members across more than 150 countries worldwide.

The CPA on the other hand is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has a member network of about 400,000 members in 100 countries globally.

Both the awarding bodies are highly renowned and respected in the field of accounting and membership in either one of them is highly coveted by most accounting professionals.

Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The CMA is a 2-part exam that emphasizes building analytical skills like critical decision making and data reporting. The key subjects that constitute the CMA certification are performance management, decision analysis, financial statement analysis, professional ethics, cost management, budgeting, and forecasting among several others. Between the two parts, the subjects are divided into areas as below:

  • Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics
  • Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

The CPA is a 4-part exam that is focused on developing knowledge in subjects such as corporate governance, federal taxation, economic concepts, professional ethics and general business principles, etc. The key areas that the 4 parts of the exam cover are:

  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Audit and Attestation
  • Regulation

Duration for Completion

To complete the CMA certification in Dubai, UAE, or anywhere in the world, a candidate gets a total duration of 3 years or 36 months to clear both parts of the exam from the day of the registration. However, for CPA, candidates are given 18 months from the time that they clear their first part, to successfully complete all remaining parts of the exam.

Eligibility

As far as eligibility is concerned, both CMA and CPA require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree or related professional certification. Besides, CMA requires two years of management accounting or financial management experience, while CPA requires two years of public accounting experience.

After being certified, a CMA needs to complete 30 hours of Continuing Education every year to maintain their respective certifications. A CPA, however, needs to complete 40 hours of Continuing Education every year.

Career Scope and Skills Obtained

CMA-certified professionals develop expertise in interpreting data and analyzing it to drive financial improvements within a business. With a higher inclination towards strategic thinking, CMAs are involved in building forward-looking strategies for organizations. In terms of careers chosen, they are observed to have generally shown an interest in working for big corporations with job profiles such as consultants, cost accountants, financial risk managers, etc.

CMA salaries, over the span of their career, are at an average of about AED 250,000 annually according to the IMA’s 2021 UAE Salary Survey.

Certified CPA professionals develop the ability for crunching numbers on a day-to-day basis for various accounting activities with the primary focus on taxation and auditing. They are observed to choose careers such as a financial advisor or accountant with job profiles ranging from public accountants to internal auditors, management accountants, etc.

Salaries of CPAs, over the course of their careers, are reported to be around AED 200,000 annually according to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020 for the Middle East and Africa.

Exam Fees and Passing Rates

On average, the CMA certification can cost approximately AED 3,700 which includes all entrance and exam fees whereas the CPA certification costs around AED 5,500 including the application, exam, and licensing fees. However, it is important to also note that both these fees mentioned do not cover the cost of additional review courses that most candidates prefer to take for studying under guidance.

The low passing rates for both are a testimonial of how challenging the exams can be and show that the certifications demand a considerable amount of effort and dedication from candidates. While the CMA has an average pass rate of 45% in the Middle East for both parts [Source: IMA 2020], the CPA has an average pass rate of 50% globally [Source: AICPA 2020].

Exam Availability

The IMA generally conducts the CMA exams every year in three testing windows, that are:

  • January 01 – February 28
  • May 01 – June 30
  • September 01 – October 31

The AICPA has switched the CPA exams to a Continuous Testing Model from 1st July 2020, which allows candidates to appear for the CPA exams anytime throughout the year.

 

The comparison between the CMA and CPA certifications shows that while both are equally good and respected in the field of accounting, they lead aspirants to different and varied career paths when observed closely. In conclusion, if you’re a candidate seeking growth in management and decision making, then it would be advisable for you to choose the CMA certification, and if you’re keen on developing skills in auditing, taxation, and regulation, then you should opt for the CPA.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, and if you are looking to enroll in CMA training in UAE, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!

The Real Value of the CFA Charter

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The demand for CFA in UAE has seen an exponential rise over the past decade. Attaining a CFA Charter is considered a key indicator of solid financial knowledge and can often be observed as a crucial decision-making criterion by employers when hiring for various roles within the finance industry.

While CFA has always been much coveted and sought after in the arena of professional development, the demand for it has only increased in the last few years due to the alarmingly low pass rates. The low pass rates make the qualification a worthy and exclusive achievement in the finance industry especially among early to mid-career professionals.

However, it is also no secret that working towards earning this qualification is a challenging task. It requires an average of 900 hours of total study time from aspirants and intense dedication despite which most candidates are met with disappointment in their attempts with a pass rate as low as about 22%.

These statistics often lead aspirants to question the overall value of CFA, opting for the CFA classes and whether or not it is truly worth pursuing. Here is a compilation of the key-value additions that CFA offers to help you understand the true worth of the qualification and assist you in making your decision with better awareness.

 

Higher salary

A boost in salary is perhaps the most commonly known and often mistaken as the only perk to come with the CFA Charter.

According to the CFA Institute’s 2019 survey, CFA salaries are 40% more than their peers and roughly 25% more than MBA holders annually. Therefore, when compensation is the criteria for deciding among aspirants between CFA vs MBA, the former stands at a clear advantage.

Qualification Standardization

The CFA Charterholders enjoy a very high international career mobility. There is little relevance or emphasis paid on the fact where they have attained the charter since it’s a standard form of professional development recognized by employers and countries around the world.

Also, when seeking employment, CFA Charterholders have a higher chance of securing placements since employers across the world acknowledge the dedication and efforts that are involved in earning the charter.

Return-on-Investment

The CFA also has proven to be a very good return on investment, especially when pitched against an MBA degree. While an average MBA may require you to shell out an average of $180,000 and two years of time to pursue the full-time degree, a CFA charter can be attained within a comparatively affordable range of $2500 to $8000.

It is also important to note that most professionals who choose to pursue the CFA qualification, continue their jobs full-time and therefore it does not pose a hindrance to their careers.

In addition, the CFA Institute also presents scholarship opportunities to aspiring candidates who need financial assistance that includes an enrollment fee waiver and a significant discount on registration costs.

Networking

With an impressively wide global network of more than 170,000 members, the CFA Institute offers exclusive opportunities to its Charterholders to connect and engage in member-only events. CFA networking is often seen to be highly effective among job-seekers in the industry.

Regional and local CFA societies regularly organize invitation-based meets to expand professional networks and educational seminars thereby enhancing the scope for continued professional development.

Career Progression

Those professionals who make it through the rather difficult journey of taking the exams and becoming certified Charterholders reap attractive rewards for their hard work. Based on the CFA employment statistics for the period ranging from 2015-2019, it was observed that the number of CFAs hired by the top 10 companies significantly increased year after year. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley depicted the most consistent growth by hiring over 13% more CFAs annually.

It is also commonly observed in the recent hiring trends that employers tend to have a higher regard for CFA applicants since they acknowledge the potential employee’s dedication, hard work, and commitment to personal growth, therefore, making them an attractive prospect to contribute to a firm’s success.

 

Ultimately, all these factors associated with the CFA qualification empower professionals to significantly boost their careers and open more opportunities for future success! The choice is yours to make, and if you are looking to enroll in CFA course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Prep Course Provider

Professional qualifications offer candidates greater insight into key finance and accounting topics. The curriculum incorporates the industry’s best practices and trends which ensures that candidates have the expertise required to climb up the ladder. Being an extensive program, candidates often need to spend months preparing and practicing the curriculum. An experienced training provider helps candidates focus on the right learning outcomes and prepare for success.

Here are 6 key features you must look for when choosing the right guide for your learning journey.

 

Tip 1: The Program Curriculum is a core element of their training programs

The questions asked during the exam, center around the program curriculum and the Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) developed by the governing program bodies. The program body surveys the needs of the industry and job requirements across the globe to ensure that the curriculum is relevant, current, and valid.

By choosing a training provider that focuses on the curriculum day in and day out, you ensure that you have chosen someone who has first-hand insight into the changes of the curriculum and knows the best study strategies.

Tip 2: Training Faculty’s Qualifications & Experience

Skilled prep providers employ multiple trainers to teach different topics which ensures that you are learning from a trainer who is well aware of the specific topic and can monitor the highs and lows of the particular subject on a personal level.  Knowledgeable trainers will focus on ensuring you master the curriculum, do not neglect the learning outcome statement (LOS) and are more likely to predict key areas that may appear in the exam based on their experience.

An added advantage would be to learn from a trainer who achieved the qualification himself and has over years of experience training and working in the related industry.

Tip 3: Flexible training solutions

To successfully prepare and achieve a professional qualification, candidates are expected to prepare for at least 3-5 months. Therefore, it’s important to choose a training program that best suits your lifestyle and needs.

Live classroom sessions offer candidates the opportunity to interact and solve queries with their fellow peers as well as trainers during the lecture. They also include in-class practice tests and mock exams that replicate the ambiance of an exam hall. This serves an important purpose as these exams are strictly monitored and mock exams help candidates abide by the guidelines set by the governing body.

On the other hand, Live Online programs offer scheduled live online sessions by the trainer every week.  It includes a participant panel that allows candidates to raise questions and interact with the trainer via audio or text. The testing method for these sessions is generally online mock exams and full-length practice exams that are known to mimic real-world testing conditions.

Tip 4: Confirm the claims made by the Prep Provider

Program governing bodies like the CFA or IMA Institute do not release previous exam questions, therefore any provider stating that they use actual questions from previous exams is a red alarm. Furthermore, if the provider is stating a particular pass rate for their material, confirm how this has been calculated and its validity.

Tip 5: Reliability of Prep Provider’s Study Material

The most efficient way to pass the exam is to practice as many questions as possible. The significant issue that students face is that even though the content has been understood well when attempting mock exams, they are often confused or lost. Therefore, the more questions you practice, the more comfortable you will be. Some important study materials to go through before the exams are end-of-section questions, mock exams, and question bank tests. These questions will equip you with tricks, tips, and methods for quicker problem-solving.

Certain providers may encourage studying for the exam without using the curriculum which isn’t recommended as although the prep material highlights the core elements for the exam, they should never be seen as a substitute for the main curriculum.

Tip 6: Study with an Approved Prep Provider

The approved prep provider program highlights training institutes that fulfill the guidelines required to offer candidates a holistic and effective learning journey. Some of the guidelines are training expertise of more than one year, developing course material in-house by experts, etc. One key highlight of these providers is that they constantly update their content according to the exam changes to maintain their prep provider status. These providers also offer candidates additional support outside the classroom which shows that they are willing to help the students thoroughly understand and excel.

Although take note that, choosing a certain provider among the many approved is solely your choice as the institute doesn’t verify the claims made by these prep providers.

Therefore, remember that the goal when choosing a prep provider isn’t choosing the most cost-effective one but rather a training guide that will help you achieve your qualification.

Everything you need to know about the Level III CFA exam

By this point, you’re a CFA exam veteran. After passing the Level I and Level II exams, your confidence is strong. That confidence is an asset, but don’t take your foot off the gas just yet. Passing Level III is going to take some work. As we often receive a variety of questions from candidates preparing for the Level III CFA exam, here’s a compiled list of those questions and answers for your reference and understanding.

  • How is Level III different from Level I & II of the CFA exam?

The most significant difference is that it’s no longer just multiple-choice questions. For Level I, if you learn, and can recall, the appropriate factoids, you’re going to pass the exam. Level II is typically said to be the most difficult as the multiple-choice questions are math-based, and the solutions are deterministic.

Level III CFA exam questions are more like case studies. There’s math involved, but it often can’t be reduced to a single equation. Level III essentially tests your ability to effectively do what employers will expect of you as a CFA charterholder.

 

  • What is the exam schedule for Level III of the CFA exam?

The exam will no longer be offered in June but instead will be offered twice a year. From 2021 onwards, it will be offered in May & November. There will also be an additional exam window being offered only in 2021 during the month of August.

The exam windows of up to 10 days instead of one uniform date with the total testing time is reduced from six hours to approximately 4.5 hours. If you would like to reschedule your exam date, a USD 25 fee will be applicable.

In addition to the time reduction, candidates will be free to walk out of the exam session as soon as they finish, even if the exam is still in session.

 

  • What can be expected in terms of the exam format for the Level III of the CFA® Program?

From 2021 onwards, the exam will be offered in a computer-based testing format. The exam will have item sets comprised of vignettes with accompanying multiple-choice items and constructed response (essay) questions. It will be approximately 4.5 hours, split into two sessions with an optional break in-between.

The first session of the exam is comprised of 8 to 11 constructed response (essay) questions. For example, you may be asked a multiple-choice question to select the portfolio (A, B, or C) that meets a particular objective, followed by an essay question to justify that response. The second session is comprised of 44 multiple-choice items, each worth 3 points.

Both essay and multiple-choice items must be answered based on the information in the vignette. Hence, the items are not free-standing (as in the CFA Level I exam). You will need to refer back to the vignette before answering each item.

 

  • What are the topics and weights for the Level III exam?

On a year-to-year basis, the Level III CFA exam topic weights are subject to change, at the discretion of the CFA Institute. For the exam in 2021, topics are weighted as :

  • Ethical and Professional Standards: 10 – 15%
  • Fixed Income: 15 – 20%
  • Derivatives: 5 – 10%
  • Alternative Investments: 5 – 10%
  • Portfolio Management: 35 – 40%
  • Equity Valuation: 10 – 15%
  • Economics: 5 – 10%

 

  • What’s the amount of time required to study for Level III?

Candidates stated that they spent an average of 344 hours preparing for the exam when asked in the 2019 CFA Candidate Survey by the CFA Institute. The time spreads over a 6 month period with 12.5 hours per week. Although, candidates don’t always start studying early and tend to compress their study time into a shorter window. The intensity of your study schedule depends greatly on how early you begin preparing.

 

  • How much does the Level III CFA® exam cost?

Registration plays a huge role in determining the cost of the exam. There are three registration windows called – early, standard, and late. The fees are $700 for early and $1,000 for standard. Registering early will not only help you save $300 which you could invest in a CFA Program exam prep course but will also help you start preparing sooner.

Career opportunities for CFA® (Chartered Financial Analyst) charterholders

he CFA® (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation is a globally recognized mark of distinction in the finance industry. Being an extensive program, it requires candidates to invest a significant amount of time, money, and effort, which can leave them with the thought of whether it’s truly valuable. Upon reviewing numerous blogs and forums, we found that supporters of the CFA charter outnumbered those against it by around 80% with many claiming that it has helped them climb the corporate ladder and helped enhance their existing skillset.

According to the 2020 Middle East Salary Guide by Robert Half, the compensation scale annually for financial analysts range between AED156K and AED217K while senior-internal auditors can earn between AED 287K to AED 295K.

Based on a survey conducted by the CFA Institute about the job roles held by CFA charterholders in 2019, we have summarised the top careers that pursuing or certified CFA candidates can attain.

Research Analyst

Over 13% of CFA charterholders hold the coveted position of being a research analyst. Research analysts play a key role in the world of business and finance as they use qualitative data to analyze past financial history and make recommendations for the future. The information that they gather is crucial for organizations as it helps prioritize and develop investment decisions.

Corporate Financial Analyst

A hybrid of a research analyst is a corporate financial analyst. The financial analyst, unlike the research analyst, goes beyond data input to frame conclusions. During venture choices, they offer research and guidance on budgets and income statements along with other financial data. They account for over 9% of CFA charterholders and are one of the commonly opted-for job roles soon after the qualification has been achieved.

Consultants

Approximately 7% of all CFA (chartered financial analysts) charterholders work as consultants. They offer an external and personalized view of the organization’s practices, changes and deal with crucial monetary decisions related to savings, investment, or insurance. Their skillset includes business valuation, financial investigations, and identifying methods to increase shareholder profitability.

Portfolio Manager

Over 5% of chartered financial analysts are employed as portfolio managers. Portfolio managers facilitate the purchase and sale of assets constantly. Effective asset sale requires interaction with clients, analysts, and researchers to remain up to date with the market trends. An extraordinary portfolio leader can see past the surface and settle on educated choices for their customers because of insightful expertise.

Risk Managers

Risk is an inevitable aspect of every flourishing business. To grow and earn greater profits, a certain amount of acceptable risk is continuously undertaken to achieve and excel in organizational goals. 5% of charterholders have the job role of a financial risk manager, a role that identifies potential monetary risks that the organization could face in the near future and helps highlight risks that can be converted into prospective opportunities.

Chief-Level Executive

Top-level executives are the most imperative and influential individuals in an organization and branch into CEO, COO & CFO. Being the apex of the organization, the significant choices that they finalize, drive the accomplishment of strategic, tactical, and operational goals contingent upon the organization’s structure and market.

Relationship Manager

Networking is crucial for effective business management. A relationship manager offers both a financial and humanistic aspect which is imperative during mergers, acquisitions, or other business relations. The relationship manager also prevents or rather limits the extent of unpredictability by constantly assessing the current financial status and elements that impact it. 5% of CFA (chartered financial analysts) work as Relationship Managers.

Financial Advisor

Advisors are usually known for being the go-to professionals that assist customers with speculations, assess laws, and take insurance decisions. They help individuals formulate short and long-term objectives, and additionally a budgeting framework that helps them accomplish their financial goals. Some of the advisors also make investments for their clients and provide levy assistance.

To know more about our CFA training programs, click here

How do you climb the corporate ladder?

Finance and accounting graduates no longer need a master’s degree to improve their career prospects or climb up the corporate ladder. Companies instead are scouting for candidates that have a specialized skill-set and hands-on experience which young graduates can gain through pursuing job opportunities or a professional qualification.

Although pursuing a career opportunity seems like the most ideal choice, it isn’t the easiest to opt for given the level of competition present among applicants in the region. Therefore, the next best alternative would be to attain a professional qualification.

Professional qualifications help candidates learn the ropes of the field, offer training flexibility, worldwide recognition and are reasonably priced in comparison to an MBA which can cost more than 60,000$. The benefits aren’t limited to post completing the certification, instead, they are seen to be impactful during the training tenure as well since it shows recruiters that you can work during the day, are committed, and have both technical and practical expertise.

The course curriculum of these qualifications is constantly updated to ensure that candidates can assess and make financial decisions based on current market trends and using the latest technology. The time-efficient and innovative techniques you will learn during the course will offer you the practical experience and advantage that your colleagues lack.

Furthermore, Candidates are required to gain work experience in order to qualify for the certification. This requirement is often seen as a plus as companies are looking for certified candidates and are more than welcome to employ those that are still pursuing their certification. Some companies also sponsor employees who are pursuing a qualification due to the high regard they have for its fruitful and rewarding curriculum.

During your course, you will also receive the opportunity to network and receive career insight or mentorship from candidates higher up the ladder. It’s always a good idea to look for a mentor as it will help you learn strategies to tackle roadblocks and methods to optimize opportunities.

Therefore, if you would like to grow in your career, there’s no better time to enroll in a professional training program than now. The extensive benefits not only include the applied skills you will learn and the influential people you might meet, but also the increased potential for career advancement.

Some of the professional qualifications that you can aim to pursue this year are:

ACCA Program:

The qualification offers you a flexible route into a career in accounting, audit, business, or finance. It offers candidates a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge, skills, and techniques required by the modern accountant.

CFA Program:

The CFA Program is a globally recognized qualification for evaluating the skill, experience, and ethics of professionals across the world. It exhibits a comprehensive understanding of advanced investment and portfolio management and is one of the most highly regarded and valued financial titles in the industry.

CMA Program:

The CMA certification portrays one’s expertise in the field of management accounting. It is an advanced US-based professional certification that demonstrates crucial financial and accounting management skills required by current versatile organizations.

CIMA Program:

Develop your accountancy skills to lead finance departments or provide management accounting consultancy by earning the UK-based CIMA qualification. It is recognized worldwide as the most relevant global finance qualification for a career in business. Once you complete the CIMA Professional Qualification, you will be awarded the CGMA designation, recognizing your value and showcasing your professionalism, business and leadership skills, ethics, and commitment.

Are mock exams important for CFA candidates?

You have invested over 300 hours preparing for the exam, attended classes by an experienced training provider and your books look like they have just returned from war. What’s next? Now it is time to put all your hard work to the test with a CFA mock exam.

There are multiple CFA mock exams on the market, but the most effective ones are designed to simulate the actual CFA exam format, difficulty, and length. It should be the closest you can get to attempting the exam before sitting for the exam.

We would advise appearing for the mock exam, a month prior to the actual exam as taking it too early will not help you remember your mistakes, and taking it late will not offer you a lot of time to improve your performance.

How are the CFA Practice Questions and Mock CFA Exam different?

Nearly all CFA providers incorporate practice questions and tests into their curriculum. For instance, Schweser offers the QBank, a tool used throughout your preparation to ensure you understand what you have already studied and are prepared to move to the next topic.

CFA mock exams are designed to assess your mastery of everything you will be expected to know when you sit for the actual CFA exam. Mock exams and practice questions are not a substitute for each other, both serve their own purpose and have unique benefits.

Attempting the mock exams

Ensure you have extra sheets of paper, a calculator, and most importantly a timer, prior to attempting the mock exam. Since the aim is to replicate the actual exam, you should write the answers just like you would during the exam and write the answers preferably in pencil to simplify corrections and adjustments.

During the mock exam, aim to attempt all the questions within 3 hours while devoting 1.5 minutes per question for 120 questions. The key skill that mock exams teach you is knowing how to save time by prioritizing the questions you know over the questions you are uncertain about.

Honesty is the best policy!

After the mock exam, be strict when marking yourself as this ensures that the score you attain represents an honest assessment of your exam preparation. While we acknowledge the fact that the score you achieve in a mock exam isn’t an accurate predictor of your final score, it will help you understand how much more you need to prepare.

The best strategy involves giving more attention to questions that you got wrong as this is the only way to close any existing gaps in knowledge. We advise candidates to not only analyze the answers but also go back and read the concepts again. By doing so, you are most likely to accumulate more extensive knowledge on a given topic, and you won’t have problems tackling similar but slightly tweaked questions.

How do you appear for the Kaplan Schweser mock exam?

Kaplan Schweser offers mock exams in over 100 locations worldwide but the rise of covid has led to live mock exams being made unavailable. Fortunately, online mock exams are still available. While you will not be able to simulate testing room conditions with the online version, an online mock exam will still be comparable in format, difficulty, and length to the actual CFA exam. From 2021, all levels of the CFA exam will be computer-based, hence the online mock exam will be closer to the real thing.

If you are looking to cut down your exam preparation time, a mock exam might provide exactly what you need to cap off your studies. It will highlight your strengths and your weaknesses while ensuring you understand the question patterns.

The Kaplan Schweser mock exam is paid, but you can access a free version of a mock exam created by our team here – Free CFA Mock Exam

How to prepare for CMA essay questions

The essay portion of the CMA exams is a worry to many candidates, and this is for valid reasons. The essay questions consist of written and quantitative analysis and responses.

 

Expectations on Exam Day

Each CMA exam has two essay questions, and each question presents a business scenario that will have multiple questions. You have 1 hour to answer both essay questions. You have 3 hours to finish the multiple-choice question section of the exam before starting the essay portion.

If you finish the multiple-choice questions section before the 3-hour limit, the remaining time gets carried over to the essay section. The focus of the essay questions is on the CMA candidate’s ability to understand and apply concepts presented in the part being tested in a business scenario.

 

The score for Essay Answers

The subject matter experts who will score your essay responses will use a grading guide. For example, there may be 120 possible points but only 100 can be awarded in total. The expert’s goal is not to deduct points from your essay answers, but to award you points.

Partial answers will also award you points. For example, if you had to calculate 10 ratios but were only able to calculate 6, the experts will award you partial points for your answer. So, if you get a tough essay question, try to work on it as much as possible, even if you don’t complete it. You’ll be able to get some points. Be sure to show your calculations.

 

Methods to prepare for the exam

The essay section represents 25% of your overall score. It’s very important that you diligently prepare for it by including the following tips in your preparation:

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Understand what essay questions ask of you and practice answering them. It’s very easy to go on a tangent on a response. Practice staying focused.
  2. Calculate what is asked of you, not what you think is asked of you. For example, if you are asked to calculate liquidity ratios, don’t calculate activity or solvency ratios because you think they’ll be needed.
  3. Know your formulas very well. You may need to calculate many figures before you can begin to answer the question at hand. The best way to memorize formulas is to write them down repeatedly and being mindful of it. Don’t day-dream while you practice.
  4. Get your hands-on essay question samples to get familiar with the format.

 

Crucial Advice

The most important advice that we can give you is to understand the material that you are studying. If you are just memorizing without understanding the WHY of things, it’ll be difficult to pass the exams, much less do well in the essay questions. The essay section will test your comprehension of the material in a real business scenario.