“A friend is a person who goes around saying nice things about you behind your back.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Usman Afzal, CFA
Daren has a special skill of narrowing down the most crucial, complex concepts into a very easy and understandable format! Daren was monumental in helping me prepare for my CFA Level III exam. His extensive knowledge of the syllabus, real-world examples and studying / test taking strategies were instrumental in helping me pass the exam. His role as a mentor, motivator and always going above and beyond was huge in my success in passing the CFA Level III exam. I am happy to call Daren my mentor and one of my closest friends!
Daren replies: Thank you! Usman is probably one of downtown Calgary's best-dressed men, and he is incredibly polite with impeccable manners. With such highly polished people skills and years of corporate finance experience, Usman is poised to do well in investment banking, the field of his calling. Usman has become a great friend of mine, and making new friends is the best part of teaching the CFA Program.
I joined Daren's Calgary CFA Level I class in January 2019 after I did not pass my first attempt at the December 2018 exam. It was not for a lack of trying. I diligently studied all material available from both the CFA Institute and Schweser, including an additional web series and thousands of questions. What I found was intense information overload, a web series of someone reading from PowerPoint slides and a lacklustre question bank. As a candidate and a consumer of third-party prep material, I was incredibly frustrated that I had spent so much time and money on a study aid that I felt had led me farther away from the CFA curriculum and only added to my confusion.
When I contacted Daren, in our first conversation, he had spent over an hour speaking with me on the phone about my experience, my motivation, study habits and exam performance. In that first conversation, I was able to learn so much about what my setbacks had been and how to overcome them going forward.
In Daren’s class, I found immediately what I had been missing: context, understanding, and practical application of the CFA curriculum. I often refer to Daren as my "CFA translator" as Daren and his classes have helped me to solidify and practically apply the many critical concepts that you are faced with throughout the CFA curriculum. Most importantly, his classes have helped me to retain this information as permanent knowledge, instead of as rote memorization to be forgotten as soon as the exam is over.
Daren’s classes are also full of wonderful people! As we candidates know, achieving the CFA charter is often a gruelling and lonely road. Every student of Daren’s that I have had the pleasure of getting to know has added to an incredibly encouraging community of people who are all wanting to achieve the same goals. As I head into my CFA Level II prep classes in the next few weeks, I am so thrilled to know that I will be along side a group of individuals that I greatly enjoy to learn with and genuinely admire!
Daren is the most knowledgeable, supportive, and accommodating CFA coach that you could ever hope for. He is always accessible to his students right through exam day and beyond. If your goal is to achieve your CFA charter, network with an amazing professional community in Calgary, and maybe even enjoy your studies, then this is the class for you. Working with Daren you can gain so much more than just your CFA charter.
Daren replies: Thank so so much, Christina! I still remember our first conversation and was thrilled that you brought so much enthusiasm and chutzpah to our CFA community (Coco, your feisty dachshund, is always welcome to visit the classroom). More than all, you have a rare, genuine teamwork attitude, and I know of nobody who knows so many investment professionals in Calgary. You are so willing to help connect people to opportunity, including for me. It's great to have you as a client and even better as a friend. And I think that I have met my match for love of Calgary and the Calgary Stampede! Yahoo to crushing Level II!
Daren provided a complete set of strategies from exam preparation to the big day. The most important philosophies Daren gave me was that “less is more” and the “answer is right in the question set!” After each lesson, he provided practice questions and emphasized the importance of including “buzz words,” which are curriculum-based phrases, to get the grader’s attention.
The score on my CFA mock exams doubled after he gave me honest feedback! I am a CFA Charterholder now, and I couldn’t have done it without Daren's coaching!
I’d advise anyone outside of Calgary to fly in for a week to be inspired and energized!"
Daren replies: When Derek first arrived in Calgary, he knew the curriculum inside-out, almost better than most candidates I taught in 2019. And rather than dwell on an initially low CFA Level III mock exam score, as so many candidates do, Derek instantly turned this challenge into a golden opportunity to best answer the CFA Level III essay questions. Derek is an incredibly fast, receptive learner with a memory like a steel trap. The rapid improvement is his essay answering technique was astonishing. He is friendly and kind, too, and has introduced me to others in his Toronto network. Thank you, Derek, for making the journey to Calgary. I'm so glad that we met!
The only thing more impressive than Daren's CFA knowledge base is his teaching passion! He genuinely cares about his students' well being, and it's a shame we do not see this more often in the public education system.
The opportunity cost and emotional strain of failing the CFA exam are so severe, so it makes complete sense to pay a premium to generate outperformance and significant exam alpha.
This is your career, so get on it and lock up your CFA exam with one of Daren's CFA prep classes in Calgary!
Daren replies: I had the pleasure of teaching Chris in my first Calgary class in 2012. Chris and I continue to geek out over CFA curriculum and finance topics. He has a loving and lovely family, and Chris is one of the most approachable, genuinely friendly CFA charterholders that you will ever meet. Chris has tirelessly built a thriving financial planning business for himself in Edmonton. It's no wonder that Chris ranks in the world's top 2% of financial planners. Thanks, Chris!