"Life is like a big lake. All the boys get into the water and start swimming. Not all of them will swim across. But one of them, I'm sure, will. That one is Groff."
~Andy Grove's High School Physics Teacher
Andy Grove concludes his memoir Swimming Across, with the line “I am still swimming.” This line perfectly epitomized a life of non-stop action toward overcoming obstacles, continual learning, and striving to make himself a better scientist, manager and citizen. This mantra of "keep swimming" is vital to success. No matter what line of work or role we play in life, it’s impossible to know all there is to know. Perfection isn’t possible. What’s important then is to keep moving forward, getting better, and never to stop “swimming”.
This weekend more than 150,000 people across the world will follow Grove’s example of lifelong learning and sit for one of three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. Described as “Wall Street’s Toughest Test” or the “Mount Everest of Finance” less than 20% of those starting the program will complete it. A Yahoo Finance article describe the program as follows:
But passing is not an easy task. Usually, more than half of all those taking any level of the exam fail. They then have to wait as much as a full year to take the same level again. Candidates can spend hundreds of hours over the course of several months studying for just one test.
So, why do so many people sacrifice their free time and social lives to take these exams? It’s because the CFA designation is perhaps one of the most respected in the investment management industry. Lisa Plaxco, CFA, head of the CFA program at CFA Institute, says, “It is the global gold standard for competency and integrity throughout the investment management industry, both for professionals and their clients.”
It’s hard to believe this Saturday will mark five years since I took my third and final CFA exam. Becoming a CFA Charterholder was without a doubt the most challenging academic endeavor I’ve pursued, but at the same time, the hundreds (possibly thousands) of hours spent were well worth it. Earning the CFA charter was a great career decision, and I’m proud to be part of an organization that is making our industry a more professional and ethical one. (For example, in May the CFA Institute held a “Putting Investors First Month” which focused on improving our industry so investors can thrive.)
So, I say all this to say I was thrilled when asked to contribute to the CFA’s Enterprising Investors blog. For my first article, I wrote about four investing lessons we can learn from the life and career Former Intel chairman and CEO Andy Grove. You can read the article below or head on over to the Enterprising Investor blog and read it there.
I hope you enjoy it and for anyone out there taking the CFA exam this weekend, good luck!