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China Investment Co. is hiring

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Here is their web site. Unfortunately the decriptions are in Chinese, and they require resume in Simplified Chinese. The positions are based in Beijing.

Thanks to my wife who found their Ads at WSJ yesterday. It says apply at their web site: . The application deadline is June 28. As name implies, most are financial related postions, but they do have a few law, IT postions as well.

China Investment Co. pic

If you never heard of China Investment Co., they are China sovereign wealth fund who invested in Blackstone (pre-IPO; NY Times) and Morgan Stanley (2007/9; ChinaDaily).

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Mark to market hearing

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A bunch of politicians (accounting newbies) questioning accountants
C-span video here.

All right, more finger pointing. Now people (oh, I mean Wall Street and their friends at Washington) are blaming mark to market (wiki), for the financial crisis.

This is almost same as blaming starbucks for one’s coffee addiction problem. Coffee, if consumed modestly, is good. But if one drinks more than 6 cups a day, he/she basically will get caffeinated.

Similar thing can be said to M2M, M2M is not the cause of this downward spiral, the overly leverage IS.

When politicians started play with accounting rules, I think rational investors will become really nervous.

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CFA level I Dec exam result

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This morning, 9:05 AM, CFA Institute web page is again hit hard: I mean all the people are trying to log in and see the results of CFA level I exam last Dec. After about I waited 25 minutes, just before I entering the customer meeting room, I am seeing passing rate: 35%. This is similar to the June passing rate (35%). After I entered the meeting room, entered the user name and password again, and here is the result.

Level 1: Pass

Cool. But the customer meeting started right away, so I have to withhold my feelings. Compared to the June results, I did better on “Financial Reporting & Analysis”, but worse on “Ethical & Professional Standards”.

Here are the details.

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Back from Chicago

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First I would like to say Chicago is freezing cold. I did not spend much time outside, but I did feel it when I was waiting for the bus and train from Midway to hotel (and back). It’s a short trip, 29 hours exactly (4PM yesteday to 9PM today), and the main purpose was taking (retake) CFA I test at McCormick Place, one of the top exhibition center in North America.

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
It’s decent, although not perfect considering its $179 (pre-tax) room rate. I can hear some noise from the neighbour or the hallway. And the comforter (quilt) in hotels seems always too thin for me. The bed is good (I am thinking buying the Hyatt Grand Bed/mattress now). Two features I found interesing (and useful), the self check out kiosk and the board pass printing kiosk.

fastboard boarding pass print kiosk

CFA test scene

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Got RIM, booked Chicago trip

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Got some RIM stock (Nasdaq: RIMM) yesterday, as I saw some weakness have already priced into its current price. At P/E (ttm) of about 12, and projected single digit growth in 2009 (after serveral years hyper growth), the expectation on the stock is really low these days. At the same time, the newly released Bold (AT&T) and Storm (Verizon) should give them some boost, to counter the attack from 3G Apple iPhone (AT&T) and G Phone (T-Mobile). RIM released its preliminary 3Q results and here is an analyst view (Canaccord).

My Blackberry 8820
I have owned it for almost a month now, and I liked it. I took some advice form Jeremy (blog), and intalled Google Mobile App including GMail Mobile and Google Maps Mobile. Had I have this Google Map, I would not have lost my directions last Friday evening (after a party at friend’s place, and I did not want to ask police because I had a little beer).

Chicago trip
I also booked the Chicago trip for CFA. Since the test will be hold in McCormick Place and I don’t want to drive much, I booked the Hyatt at McCormick Place. To offset the hotel cost, I decided to take the public transportation from Midway airport to the hotel. Seriously I did check the airport shuttle but upon further examination, the travelling time is not as short as public transportation.

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CFA, extend airline membership miles etc.

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schweser CFA pic

Final push for Dec 6 CFA I
Working on Schweser practice exam now. One lesson from last June test is too little practice exam (only one). Lets see if I could complete all 3 practice exams by Dec 5: with careful reviews and reading on weak spots.

Unite miles for WSJ
I got this idea from Kiplinger’s a while ago. And I have used this tip twice now. Last year I used it for my NWA miles (I had 33,000 miles from my China trip a while back); yesterday I used it on United for WSJ subscription. Redeem newspaper magazine can not only make the life of miles longer, but also supported the newspaper/magazine business. Plus, reading from the real paper (vs. computer, blackberry) can get me into better thinking. Also, keep in mind I tried to redeem the miles for air ticket as first choice, the magazine is just a way to burn some miles while extending the life of unused miles.

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Olympic game starts, CFA level I registration

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Yes, the game already started, e.g, the women’s soccer. This morning I saw the team USA vs. team Norway on MSNBC. The US lost 2 goals in first 5 minutes, not a good way to start a game.

BTW, here is the TV schedule on NBA family (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, USA, Oxygen). You need to type in your zip code to get exact listing. Personally I can not wait to see the opening ceremony on 7 PM Friday.

CFA level I December exam
I registered this one again, this time I will take it in Shanghai (Dec 7 Sunday). Note December is more like a make up test, so there are not as many test centers as the June exam. For instance, St. Louis does not have one. Here is a link to December test centers. Click on the December 2008 (PDF) file there to find your nearby testing place.

CFA curriculum pic
(CFA curriculum, source: CFA Institute)

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Margin of safety, retake CFA

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CFA test did not turn out the result I liked to see. I thought about the reasons, besides the unlucky factor (my score right around the pass/fail line), I attribute the main reason to myself: I did not work hard enough, and my financial knowledge is not good enough. Imagine if I could make more than 70% in all the sections, I would not rely on someone’s mercy on passing the test. Thinking along those lines, I decided to not to challenge the result (in CFA exam rule, one can pay $100 to get it re-scored). I will pay $480 to re-take the CFA level I this Dec.

Of course, the key for me is make sure this time I work hard, make sure I reallly understand all the materials, so that I would have sufficient margin of safety (not the razor thin margin of safety, or pure luck like the June test).

Buying stock with Margin of Safety in Mind
This reminds me Chapter 20 of Ben Graham “Intelligent Investor”, as Warren Buffett emphasized at this year annual shareholder meeting. By that, Ben/Warren meant buy a good stock at bargain price, so that in case something terrible go wrong, we can still sell the stock without a big loss.

Just for fun: my unlucky test experience in the US
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June 08 CFA result

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IS out. I could not fall asleep this morning at 5:30 AM, 2.5 hrs before the official score release. Logged into the web, hope to see something, nothing there, watched some Bloomberg TV, and back to sleep (listened to iPod actually because I could not fall asleep).

8:00 AM, back to computer again, could not logged in because too many people trying to connect to CFAInstitute web site. After 15 minutes’ unsuccessful tries, I did logged in. The first page says “June 2008 Pass Rate
Level I Pass Rate: 35%”.

I know I could be right at the threshold. Why not make it 40% so that I could pass 🙂

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CFA testing day experience, thoughts

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(Update June 8 ) Read couple interesting blogs on yesteday CFA exam. This one from Singapore, and another one from China (in Chinese).

(Original June 7) After came back from the Hilton hotel testing center, I went directly to Schnucks store, to get the Stella Artois beer, and 3 oranges. Why 3 oranges, because I saw 4 for $3. Apparently my mind is still stuck in the CFA exam: caculation on net income, cash flow blah blah blah. When I first saw the receipt shows $2.25 for 3 oranges, I laughed to myself: under normal circumstance I would just buy two for $1.50, much easier calculation. Anyway, if you came here looking for test specific things, I am afraid you will be disappointed 🙂

But I still like to write down some of my thoughts for the test and in general.

CFA test grading
(Grading paper for CFA test, source: CFAInstitute).

1) More people attended the test than I thought
In the grand ballroom at Airport Hilton, I counted there are roughly 300 (14*2*12) people for level I and II candidates. Why so many people and what is the composition of test takers? I saw both new graduate, MBA students and professionals. I am the rare amateur. Let me quote the press release from CFAInstitute which shows growth of CFA candidates in year 2008 vs. year 2007:

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