After a hiatus to study for a UK actuarial exam (for questionable career prospects) and handle some odds and ends around the house, I’m about back to my normal timeline of quarterly existential crises.
I regretted signing up for the UK exam a little too late into the studying process (sunk cost, I know, but couldn’t help myself). Regardless of whether I pass or not, I do have a few important takeaways:
- I am genuinely interested in finance. Ten years of being in the financial services industry apparently wasn’t enough for me to know that. It’s amazing how self-reflection doesn’t happen even when I spent so much time looking at my navel. I enjoyed my psychology classes in college but wanted to do something in an applied context and without extensive human interaction, so that led nowhere. The finance world sort of provides a model for understanding and influencing psychology. I’m not sure why it took studying for this exam to complete my career self narrative…
- I learned about copulas, extreme value theory and filled in some holes in my knowledge of statistical distributions.
- I feel more strongly against the move to higher Bloom’s taxonomy test questions. It’s not that I don’t think evaluation and synthesis are important skills, but I think that the only way to be well prepared for a high Bloom’s question is through memorization (and having a good study guide). I had ~600 flashcards for this exam, way more than for any prior US lower-Bloom exams, plus I memorized a handful of mind maps to make sure I could cover enough points. If one of the big pros for moving to high Bloom’s is less memorization, I don’t think this is true in practice even though I can see why it could make sense in theory.
I also realized how much I didn’t know about the financial crisis. So after the exam, this led me to read Jesse Eisinger’s new book, The Chickenshit Club.
The point of this book was to explain what a sad state of affairs the current financial regulatory system is in and how it got there (you get the gist just by reading the book cover). Through the multiple narratives that I had trouble keeping track of, the thing that stuck out to me most was how many passionate people tried and failed and gave up, mostly due to unintended consequences.
I wish the author would’ve closed with a lessons learned section. After finishing the book, I felt the same as when I watched Atonement — depressed that bad stuff happened and there’s nothing to look forward to. There’s a quote in the book that was in turn a quote from another book, American Pastoral, that sums up what I gained from reading this book:
He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach — that it makes no sense.