An Evening with Sally (and Annette)


healthy cfa power breakfastSam is our first CFA exam blogger. He was born and raised in Illinois, working in New York and planning to retake Level 1 in December.

Today’s a special day for us in New York City. RIP.

Warning: this is a somewhat sentimental piece. May cause goosebumps all over.

One of the biggest items on my to-do list is, well, how to convince my girlfriend that taking this CFA exam is beneficial to both of us.

If you haven’t read my earlier story, I began studying for the CFA exam early this year. Because of this I’ve spent significantly less time with Sally. There have been complaints. What’s worse is that I failed this exam meaning we fall back to hell going through the same thing again. Is it worth it? I asked. She asked.

I decided to take one of Stephanie’s suggestions to pull Sally into my CFA journey. You may have noticed that I’ve started doing that, looping her in to come up with the power breakfast. She is more than happy to get involved, because healthy eating is her thing, and more importantly, she feels like I care for her enough to let her in.

We are Doing This Together

When it comes to taking these exams, most parents are supportive. I mean, they are supporting everything we do because they are our dear old moms and dads.

But boyfriends and girlfriends? It’s tough. It’s hard to expect unconditional love. Because of this, we candidates tend to shut ourselves up — we don’t tell them what we do, how difficult the stuff is, assuming they don’t understand or that they are not interested.

We then start a vicious cycle. For them, it’s frustrating to offer support when one doesn’t even know what the other is going through. It’s also hard to imagine why it is worth it at all.

We took a nice break out of town last week and I saved an evening opening myself up, telling her about what I’ve been through these few months. And why the CFA is that important to me.

Sally admits that she was jealous of this “CFA thing”. At the same time, she was guilty of not being able to help when obviously I was suffering big time fighting this beast.

She may not understand the derivatives and yield curve, but she gets it, in terms of why I have to go through this exam now versus later, when hopefully we will be married with kids, at the same time with mortgage and so on. And why I can’t survive professionally in my field without this designation.

Annette’s Story

Sally is really excited about my blogging here (that’s right, I didn’t even tell her that — even for that super granola post I just ask her to write an email for a friend). She read all the posts, of course, and went on checking out other bloggers in Stephanie’s other sites.

One blogger who really, really stands out is Annette, who took the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam. (Sally picked that first — she thought the exam was for intelligence agents LOL)

Annette is a German speaking lady born and raised in Namibia (in Africa). First of all, how cool is that? There is apparently three parts in the CIA exam. She passed the first two with ease but by the time she blogged it was her 7th attempt on Part 3. AND, apparently there was a deadline that she needed to complete the three exams, and this was her last chance.

We read every post with apprehension. Finally, as she revealed she passed her last exam, we so wanted to give her a big hug.

What I Learn from Annette’s Journey

1. Don’t Pity Myself Too Much

Wow. I thought my situation was tough. I can’t possibly imagine being in her position. Reading from her blog I can see that she is intelligent and has been a strong performer in her firm. So understandably she was at a loss on how she could ever improve and pass that damn thing before everything expired.

2. There are Difficult Exams Out There

I used to think that the CFA exam is THE most difficult challenge ever. Maybe the CPA exam comes close. But CIA exam? Never heard of it.

Then I realized that this certification has been around for 40 years and there are more than 100K Certified Internal Auditors around the world. The overall pass rate was 39% in 2015. At least from the passing rate stand point, CFA is a tad easier.

3. Perseverance!

Failing the same exam 6 times and not giving up, that’s super amazing. I hope this won’t happen to my Level 3 but really, Annette’s story inspires me to keeping fighting for this. It is doable despite the setbacks.


I know I digress again but as I read the story with Sally, one word pops out: Respect.

Respect that other people are working hard towards their goals. Respect the other qualifications are as important as the CFA charter. Respect the dear ones around us, and let them in so they can support us in whatever ways they can.

Have you discussed your CFA journey with your family yet? If not, stop reading. It has to be done. Now.

Latest To-Do List

  • Find a way out with Sally (yay!)
  • Sign up for free trial from Wiley CFA
  • Work on Wiley practice questions
  • Take the mock exam

Note from Stephanie

Absolutely inspiring post (and hello, Sally!)

Annette would be real pleased to know. I am going to tell her 🙂

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Sam H

I was originally from Illinois, now working in New York City as a financial analyst. I am aiming to take (and pass!) the CFA Level 1 exam in June.

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