CFA sans BA: The Case for a Barbell Approach…

Every summer, roughly two hundred thousand people around the world will take a six-hour multiple-choice and essay-question test organized by the CFA Institute. At a recommended 300 hours of study per test, we’re talking about roughly 60 million person-hours devoted to studying the ins and outs of discounted cash flows, LIFO and FIFO accounting, the capital asset pricing model, and other such topics. The end goal of most test-takers is to pass all three levels and get designated as a Chartered Financial Analyst. Based on Google Autocomplete, the single best window into the safe-for-work portion of the zeitgeist, people consider the CFA designation a possible alternative or complement to the MBA: it’s something you do after a couple years of school and a couple years of work. However, unlike business school, you don’t strictly need your undergraduate degree to get the designation, so, given my

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