Interview with Anthony Vaccaro (MBA/CFA student)

Great Advice from a MBA/CFA Third year/level student at Concordia University’s Goodman Institute of Investment Management.

By Luis Fernando Arce, Chief Interviewer

An Interview about the CFA exam and some of the future possibilities it creates. Looking into the structure of the MBA/CFA program and how one can prepare for it. Finally, he provided some advice for


Can I get your name and level of study, please?

My name is Anthony Vaccaro. I’m a level 3 CFA candidate.

How many years is the program?

Three years.

Which exam did you just write?

I just wrote the level three exam.

So tell me a little bit about the exam. Can you describe the difference between each level?

Well it covers a broad scope… but I would say that level one is kind of just getting into the concepts, looking at where the financial world is right now. Level two goes deeper into those concepts; into every aspect: fixed incomes, derivatives, equities, corporate finance, accounting – pretty much anything in the financial world because, as big as it is, it just keeps growing, getting more complex and more vast every year. So level one and level two are just actually looking at the mechanics of some of the tools and theories that are being used. And level three takes more…imagining yourself as a portfolio manager and kind of tying in everything that you’ve looked at over the last couple of years, and how you would actually apply the stuff and manage a portfolio that would include currencies, equities, all those things. And it also takes into account the psychology of your clients, of your investors. And of course ethics is something that runs through all three levels as well.

[pullquote]The biggest advantage is scientific proof of your work ethic.[/pullquote]Do you see any advantage in having the CFA program integrated into an MBA program or does it not make a difference? What do you think about it?

Yes, actually I’m a little surprised that I was recommended, because … I’m a bit of a unique situation … basically, I went into the MBA program already having completed level one. So in the MBA they were covering CFA level one, but I had already passed it, so I wrote level two. In my second year – for this year – I was studying for level three, but the program was preparing people for level two. Now that said, it’s still an excellent idea, absolutely. And if you can condense it into three years – not everyone gets it – but if you manage to come out of an MBA and a CFA, you’ve done in three years what it normally takes people six or seven years to do.

Just for a CFA by itself?

No for CFA and MBA. CFA is three tests, but it’s rare for people to pass each test on the first attempt – it does happen, but it’s rare. If I had to guess, I’d say that on average it probably takes people five or so years to get all three levels of the CFA. And then the MBA, depending on the program, generally is three years.

What was your story like? Did you pass on the first try?

The very first CFA level I wrote twice, and then I passed level two on the first try and we’ll find out about level three.

What prerequisites do you need before writing level one?

It may have changed a little bit, but when I wrote the level one in 2008 you needed an undergraduate degree.

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