CFA Exam Study Break: Woman watching video on tablet

Posted by: Kaplan Schweser
Published: April 23, 2020

We asked Kaplan Schweser CFA® exam subject matter experts to suggest books, movies, podcasts, and things you can do to help you pass the time during your exam postponement “study break.” Here are the recommendations.

Enriching Your Finance and Investment Education

These recommendations can add dimension your understanding of the financial industry, which is something that can help you as you prepare for the exam:

  • The Intelligent Investor. This book is by Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, the mentor of Warren Buffet, and the founding member of CFA Society New York. This is a must read for anyone in the investment industry and is especially relevant during the volatile markets we have seen recently. Recommended by Derek Burkett, CFA, FRM, CAIA, Vice President of Advanced Designations, Kaplan Schweser.
  • The Big Short: This is a great movie about the 2008 mortgage and housing crisis that led to the great recession and involved collateralized mortgage obligations, credit default swaps, hedge funds, and collateralized debt obligations. CFA candidates know about these financial products, but the movie adds a personal and historical perspective. Recommended by Kurt Schuldes, CFA, CAIA, Project Manager, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought (2017): This recent book is relevant to the CFA Program curriculum. Author Andrew Lo investigates whether markets and investors act rationally or irrationally. Recommended by Kent Westlund, CFA, CPA, Senior Content Specialist, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Economics in One Lesson: This short book by Henry Hazlitt makes sense of a subject that even many professionals find confusing. Recommended by Craig Prochaska, CFA, Content Specialist, Kaplan Schweser.
  • "What Negative US Oil Prices Mean for the Industry”: This article explains the impact of the historic negative price for oil futures. This is relevant for CFA candidates studying the derivatives topic and alternative investments. Recommended by Kent Westlund, CFA, CPA, Senior Content Specialist, Kaplan Schweser.

Free Quiz: Determine Your Study Plan for the Postponed CFA® Exam

Entertaining and Challenging Yourself

These recommendations are finance-based ways you can enjoy yourself or try something new:

  • Smartest Guys in the Room: This 2005 movie covers the financial shenanigans of Enron. Recommended by Dr. R. Douglas Van Eaton, CFA, Level I Manager and Vice President of CFA Program Education, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Planet Money and Freakonomics Radio: These popular podcasts explain topics in finance and economics to the general public and are useful refreshers for finance students and professionals. Recommended by Kent Westlund, CFA, CPA, Senior Content Specialist, Kaplan Schweser.
  • The Predators’ Ball: This book by Connie Bruck charts the growth of the junk bond market and the rise and fall of Michael Milken. Recommended by Jonathan Bone, ACA, CFA, Kaplan CFA team in the UK.
  • Too Big to Fail: This movie chronicles the actions of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis to prevent contagion of failure amongst America’s largest financial institutions. Recommended by Dr. Bijesh (B.J.) Tolia, CFA, CA, Level II Manager and Vice President of CFA Program Education, Kaplan Schweser.
  • When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management: This book by Roger Lowenstein tells the story of what was once the most impressive hedge fund in history. But after four years, it suffered catastrophic losses that jeopardized not only the biggest banks on Wall Street but also the stability of the financial system. Recommended by Eric Smith, CFA, FRM, Senior Project Manager, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Rogue Trader: This 1999 movie is based on the book about the events leading to the collapse of Barings Bank. Recommended by Eric Smith, CFA, FRM, Senior Project Manager, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Moneyball: This is the story of how an underfunded sports team beats the competition by challenging conventional wisdom with data analytics. A great story if you like value investing. You can read the book, watch the movie, or both. Recommended by Dr. Tim Smaby, CFA, FRM, Director of Product Management, Kaplan Schweser.

Building Your Own List

If you’re a do-it-yourself-er looking for inspiration to build your own list, here are two recommendations for you:

  • Find true accounts of life at investment banks on Wall Street on Goodreads: There are more than 20 worthwhile books about life at Wall Street’s investment banks.Traditionally, the two that young analysts start with are Monkey Business (Rolfe/Troob, 2000) and Liar’s Poker (Lewis, 1989). Recommended by Kent Westlund, CFA, CPA, Senior Content Specialist, Kaplan Schweser.
  • Spend time on Twitter: Use #fintwit to find real-time commentary on financial markets. Follow @Naval for ultra-succinct business and life wisdom. Make sure to read his pinned tweet thread “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky).” Hint: it’s about wealth, not money. Recommended by Dr. Tim Smaby, CFA, FRM, Director of Product Management, Kaplan Schweser.

Also, be sure to take our free quiz, which can help you determine your study plan for the postponed exam.