Oh me!

We are so small between the stars & so large against the sky. and lost in subway croud, I try to catch your eye …..

Protected: The fundamental theorem of the career confused


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Columbia MSOR placements / job offers


I had to wait, as usual, for Kaushik to get ready for dinner. So in the 30 odd minutes of waiting for his highness to ‘suit up’, Mittal and me did some rudimentary analysis on the job statistics of MSOR / EMS class of 2011. Here’s the results

First the disclaimers : We only surveyed people whom we interact with and took into account facts known among friends. There may have been job offers that were not disclosed. Also, the sample size is 31 while the class size is perhaps 200. We did not consider any visa restrictions and our facts may be horribly wrong. Most importantly, The course has not even finished and people still have 1 month of course + 2 months of grace period + 3 months of OPT = 6 months more to search for a job offer. It is highly likely that (almost) everyone will get a job in the next 6 months. It is certain that the next round of great jobs will come from freshers ( first quarter of 2012 )

Now the results:

Sample size = 31
Of which Indian citizens = 31
People with job offers = 15 ( 48.4%)
People with job offers who are happy with status quo ( no more job huntng) = 8 ( 25.8% of sample size)
People with Work Experience = 19
…. of which who got offers = 12.
=> 63 % of work ex junta got offers as of December 2, 2011

People without Work Experience = 12
…. of which who got offers = 03.
=> 25 % of freshers got offers as of December 2, 2011

Number of people who had a summer internship = 24
…. Of which got offers = 13

=> internship considerably inreases your chance to get an offer.

Sample list of companies: AmEx, PwC, E&Y, Thomson Reuters, Goldman Sachs, Nomura etc.
Sample Designations: Analyst, Senior Analyst, Associate, Consultant, Sr. Consultant


1) Work experience is defined as anyone who has more than 12 months of work experience in any field.
2) Only relies on publicly available information
3) Salary disclosure is rare, so no statistics are available.

Protected: Of Job hunting and the stuff that comes with it.


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Protected: Financial Engineer (summer) at a big french bank


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Protected: Fixed Income Trader at a very big Investment bank.


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Protected: Sector Research Interview at a leading bank


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CFA Level 3 – 50 things that you should know


I started preparing for CFA when it had been 6 months into my first year at B School. CFA seemed to be that great qualification which was very difficult to attain and thus very much respected. It seemed to be the magical gateway to $100,000 jobs and it was an accepted fact that it required very hard work and that hardly anyone passed all three exams in one shot. That was January 2007. Today is August 2009. I have passed all three levels in my first attempt. I think now having gone through the program, I can write decisively about the myths and realities surrounding it. Here’s 50 insights in the program

1) It is not a difficult exam to pass. CFA is very do-able if you put in the hours.

2) CFA is 80% hard work and 20% intelligence.

3) An average joe/jane can clear the program provided that he/she does not give up hope.

4) CFA is difficult because you’ll have to give up on your social life for the three years that you’re doing it.

5) It is much more difficult to clear the exams while you are working

6) Thus, if possible take atleast 1 ( better 2) levels while you’re still in college

7) Clearing only 1 level or clearing only 2 levels does not carry any weight.  You have to clear all three levels before you can make the exams work for you.

8) CFA alone will not calapult you to the $100,000  job  99% of the times.

9) It is expensive. Abt $2500 to be precise

10) It will cover all topics in finance, but it is more ‘sellable’ for equity research type of roles

11) it is not a subsitute of FRM ( and vice versa)

12) You’re not going to seem attractive to chicks in a bar only because you hold a charter

13) People don’t get that much impresed that you’re a CFA unless they are CFA level 1 candidates

14) the feeling of passing level 1 is the great, level 2 is good and level 3 is just ok

15) The happiness of passing Level 1 lasts 1 week, level 2 lasts 2 days and level 3 lasts a few hours. ( this may be incorrect for some others )

16) Schweser is the best

17) Study atleast 2 hours everyday

18) start Preparing atleast 4 months before the exam

19) refer to CFAI textbooks only when in need for level 1 and level 3

20) Use CFAI textbooks often in level 2

21) you’ll forget what you studied by the time you complete your course.

22) in View of 21, revise atleast thrice before the exam

23) you mock test scores in Schweser Pro are the best indicators of your expected score

24) Doing Schweser back of chapter problems and doing CFAI past years qns is a very good idea

25) take free CFAI sample exam 3 weeks before the exam

26) take CFA mock exam 10 days before the real exam

27) apply for a 2 week leave before the exam  , well in advance .

28) try to understand the material rather than mug it

29) Ethics is BY FAR the easiest to nail topic in exam ( especially in level 1)

30) take lots of tests

31) If possible, study from Schweser Videos for L2

32) Everyone who studies for atleast 300 hours for L1 shall pass that exam

32) NOT Everyone who studies for  300 hours for L2 shall pass that exam

33) L2 is very difficult. Abt 4 times more difficult than L1

34) If possible, form a study group

35) Don’t start hitting on the girls in the study group. If prone to such activities, study alone

36) Talk to your friends regularly on weekends. take out 1 hour on both days for this purpose. This will ave you from burning out

37) Have a beer when you’re frustated of this F&&&& exam

38) If extremely bored of prepatration, take a weekend off. Go on a trip/ read Calvin & Hobbes/ Gossip with friends. After 1 weeekend, hit the books again. Without fail

39) Don’t let people fool you into thinking that you can pass the exam in 2 weeks. That won’t happen unless you’re John Nash.

40) Join www.analystforum.com

41) It makes immense sense to talk to someone who has cleared your level (recently) before starting actual preparation

42) Don’t be afraid of the numericals. They’re not that difficult

43) for L1 – FSA , ethics are Imp

44) For L3, having a holistic view is important

45) For L2, Everything is important

46) Do not send the picture postcards you received with CFA registration to anyone, that’ll instantly classify you as nerd

47) Its better to complete one book before moving to another one, that way you’ll always have an idea about how much syllabus you’ve covered

48) Once you pass, don’t boast about the CFA program. That’s one of the most stupidest things to do.

49) If you fail once, don’t give up. If you fail twice, continue if situations were outside your control. If you fail thrice, leave it.

50)  Degrees, Education, Charters, Exams are all of zero importance if you do not maintain good relationships with people. That’s the single most important thing that i’ve learnt over the three years in this program

My article in Business Standard & Rediff Money, 25th December 2007




Varun Agrawal: The market`s coming of age
Varun Agrawal / New Delhi December 25, 2007

Sebi’s intention of introducing a volatility index (V-I) and derivatives based on it for Indian markets is a welcome move.The Rammohan Rao committee’s proposed V-I, among other things, signifies the financial sector’s coming of age.
India’s futures and options market has seen a boom in the past five years. While a total of only 176,000 index put/call options worth Rs 3,800 crore (Rs 38 billion) were traded on the NSE in 2001-02, those numbers have skyrocketed to 25 million and Rs 7,92,000 crore (Rs 7920 billion) respectively, in 2006-07. Similarly, the total trading volume in NSE options has jumped from a paltry $555 million in 2000-01 to $1.7 trillion in 2006-07. That’s a neck-breaking 214 per cent compounded growth rate y-o-y. With such growth in volumes, the time is ripe to introduce long-awaited new products.
The V-I will measure the market’s expectation of Nifty/Sensex volatility over the coming month (30-day period). Since 1993, VIX, the first volatility index introduced by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), has been a huge hit. A number of other exchanges around the world have also introduced some mutation of it and have had the same experience.
The V-I will help Indian markets in more ways than one.
First, it will be the most direct measure of the increasing market volatility and will thus be helpful in the pricing of options. Second, this measurement will help investors hedge and speculate over the very property of volatility. Third, its input will enhance better prediction by Value at Risk (VaR) and other risk management models. Fourth, it will reduce transaction costs for betting on volatility because the speculator will have to buy only one VIX derivative, instead of at least two for constructing strangle/straddles. Fifth, it will encourage market participants to move ‘onshore’ instead of playing in private offshore arenas.
But even beyond these uses, it sends a very important signal worldwide, that India is ready to move to the next level of financial maturity. While our capital markets are very well-developed (the BSE is the world’s largest in terms of the number of scrips listed, while the NSE is the world’s largest by stock futures trading volume), there is a dearth of modern financial products. Sebi’s wish to introduce seven new products including V-I is a well-thought out decision to break out of the shackles.
According to recent news reports, India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL), a joint venture between CRISIL and NSE, has expressed a desire to be a leading player for devising the index. It is likely to do so because of its experience in this space.
However, it’s not that the rollover will be smooth. There are certain unique issues that will have to be tackled. The single biggest problem in devising the index will be liquidity concerns. Indian derivative markets are still in the budding stage. While the number of puts and calls traded on the index has risen significantly, their depth and liquidity is a major concern. All this might lead to ‘holes’ while constructing the proposed volatility index.
According to my preliminary research, in all likelihood, we’ll follow the old VIX methodology for calculating V-I. The new VIX methodology might be unsuitable for calculating the Indian volatility index because options on Nifty, though aplenty at at-the-money strike, show an erratic behaviour for out-of-money and in-the-money strikes. Thus, a better and more practical method would be to go for the old VIX methodology which uses eight at-the-money options. These are relatively easily available and are more traded than their counterparts.

The first to cash in on opportunities in new derivative products in India are large institutional players who have already tried their hands at similar products in other markets, like the CBOE, NYSE or LME. The situation might not be any different here. The first to jump on the bandwagon would be foreign banks and other large institutional players. Retail investors will be the last to try their hands at V-I futures and options because of the classic risk-averse mentality. They are likely to wait and see what other participants are doing before giving it a shot. That said, even the average retail investor is expected to use the V-I as an index to gauge where the market is going and use the insights in buying options on other securities and shares.

One of the problems cited in Mumbai’s way to becoming an IFC is the lack of innovative financial products. While the V-I is not the panacea for all financial problems, it certainly is a very good indicator of Sebi’s long-term reforms to align India with global best practices and vision.

The writer, a student at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, can be reached at cfa.varun@gmail.com

CFA Experience – 3 June 2007


Ok. So I came all the way back from Delhi to take the CFA exam in Bombay on June 3, 2007. so what if the useless trip cost me 12,000 bucks. It was well worth the efforts, time and money…. Or was it?

Ummm… may be not. this exam was different. .. Chalo let me start from the beginning

I landed at Mumbai airport after flying through beautiful clouds aboard an Indian airlines flight. People say that their service is poor; however it was much better than Go air. Anyways, I had a window seat and for the first time was in an airplane while being in midst of a storm. The plane was shaking violently and was bumping too… seemed more of being in a bus from Kota to Ajmer rather than in a plane from del to bom.

Anyways, after a 45 min delay I landed at Mumbai airport at about 8 PM. I had already made my boarding arrangements at 3 places. So I went to NITIE because it was closest to the test centre at Thakur Engg college at Kandivili. I got a room on 7th floor, number 707. it seemed as if the airplane thing was just not leaving me. There the room was in a mess and no pillows or bed sheets were provided. So I borrowed a bed sheet from shriharsha which I eventually used as a pillow because I didn’t want the sleep to be a pain in the neck (pun intended)

When I landed in NITIE, Chandan told me that PPO decision is due on Tuesday. Now I already know what skimpy chance do I have at a PPO so it didn’t bother me much. However there was, and is, a small feeling that ….. Chalo, let’s leave that for a moment.

So I borrowed an alarm clock. I set multiple alarms just to make sure that I don’t forget to wake up in the morning. . I studied a bit of GIPS and asset valuation before I slept at 11 30.

I woke up at 5 30 AM. But then I thought “ki agar life mein neend nahi poori ki to kya kiya?”. So I slept for an hour more and woke up at 6 30 AM out of sheer tension. Then quickly got ready and was set to leave for the exam.

A break here— at this point I must state that NITIE campus is very beautiful. I liked it very much, about the same as PEC.

Haan to as I was saying, when I was going out of the hostel I found a few guys all ready like me. I guessed immediately that they too were CFA candidates. Since there was only one centre at Bombay, my baniya buddhi thought it better to share an auto (read cut my operating expenses by half). So I sat with this padhakoo looking guy. The route from NITIE to kandivili was very beautiful. It was a cloudy day and that really cheered me up. In fact it was so beautiful that I really had a doubt that this place was in Bombay. Chalo koi na, I finally reached thakur’s at about 7 50 AM.

There were lots of people at the centre. Around 2000 may be. There were a quite a few sexy looking chicks too, which busted my myth of finance being a male dominated area.

Jo bhi ho, the centre was very well managed. Invigilators were wearing a seemingly bulletproof yellow top up shirt which reminded me of a parrot. I asked one of them why was it like that and she told me it’s CFA policy. I though that the CFA institute makes people work like an ass and look like a parrot… what are they somehow affiliated to PeTA? But then I just shrugged off the feeling and continued my observations at the firagi test centre. There were big posters of Cell phones not allowed and Laptops/ PC’s not allowed all over the place. They were printed on pretty decent paper and I wondered how much would have this bullshit cost them. But with all that $845 fees, they can spend money on things like that I guess.

So then I went inside the centre where they repeatedly checked my hall ticket and Passport. They’re pretty touchy on these issues yaar. So then they gave us a very well printed exam booklet and OMR sheet and read the instructions aloud. The test began at sharp 9 AM according to the 30 Rs digital ‘hello kitty’ watch that I purchased from Dwarka.

I started with Portfolio Mgmt . there were 6 qns and I did not know answer to 1. CML and SML were heavily tested material. I then moved to asset valuation. But I found that tough and in the mid section went to economics which I again found tough. There were some qns on monetary policy effects on currency appreciation that I’m sure I did bad in. I next moved to Quant which was ok types and to Ethics which were fine. Then I went back to asset valuation before finally doing Financial statement analysis, which as again OK.
So in essence, asset valuation was tough and other sections were fine… but I din’t have that ‘phod diya’ feeling in AM test.

BUT I finished the test 1hour before .

Then there was a break for 2 hours where I had a very oily chola bhatura and a fag. This guy from ICFAI was also smoking and I cursed his institute a bit. He was curious about IIFT and I gave him general gyaan.

I met a few of my college seniors also during the exam

Then came the afternoon session.

This section was easier. I started with portfolio mgmt again which was just OK types. Lots of CML/SML qns again. Then I moved to asset valuation which I found easy. As I was a bit confidant, I moved to FSA which again was easy. Nest I went to Economics which was cool . Then was Quant which I think I cracked. Last was ethich where again I did well.
Overall paper was easy But tricky. Also lots of ‘ratta’ is required. Theory is big time important. Even quant had theory in it.

So in essence, AM was bad and PM was good. However, because AM was Quite bad, I’m 80% sure I’ll pass. Ok may be 90% but definitely not 100%

Out of 240 qns I did not know/got confused in 54 qns.

Assuming I knew the answers at this much correct of level, my score is

70%level 75%level 80% level 83%level 85% level
sure 186 130.2 139.5 148.8 154.38 158.1
unsure 54 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5
Total 143.7 153 162.3 167.88 171.6
% 59.875 63.75 67.625 69.95 71.5

at most I can get 74% approx

Most probably I’ll get 68% types. So that’s it. I’m borderline case in this exam

My first Post


Decadence is setting in. My ideas & ethics are dying and am everyday getting more and more materialistic.

A number of thoghts cross my mind everyday. This is an attempt to word my emotions on a gamut of things.

If you’re here to find some fun stuff, you’ll be dissapointed. This is meant to be more of a chronicle rather than an intellectual/entertainment portal!

However, if you’re here to see what have i been up to; you’re more than welcome.

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