It's been almost two weeks since I took the Regulation exam, and I've had barely enough time to even think about my score, never mind to begin cramming for the Audit section. It's been a hellish two weeks to put it lightly - I witnessed first hand Merrill Lynch's massive layoffs.
If you don't read the news, I'll fill you in. In 4Q 2007 and 1Q 2008, Merrill incurred huge losses and announced that they'd be laying off almost 10% of the non-FA workforce. As drastic as it sounds, I felt insulated from it, as did most of my team. First of all, my team works in the private client area...which, despite the quarters' losses, had good profits. Profits weren't great enough to outweigh the losses elsewhere, but we still were in the black, unlike those other areas in the red. Secondly, as internal auditors, I think we felt like we were needed to help turn things around.
Not so. Three people in my group of about thirty were laid-off. It was one of the worst experiences ever, and a sight I'd never like to repeat. Unfortunately, it seems as if this is just par for the course. The long timers at the firm seem distanced from it - they've seen this happen time and time again. The firm gets bloated during the good times, and then slims down during the bad times. Most recently before the mortgage crisis, it was the technology bubble.
Either way. It just plan sucked. Everyday for about a week I watched people be escorted to their cars with boxes. I heard rumors of who and how and when. It felt like a week long funeral honestly. And then, we drank. And drank some more. If there's ever been an excuse to drink after work, this was it. The bar near work was abuzz every evening with those of us still there, mourning our lost friends and coworkers, discussing what could be our own fate the very next morning. There was no distinguishable pattern to the cuts either...was it those who were overpaid? underutilized? under-performing? able to be outsourced? I couldn't pinpoint who'd be cut if I had tried.
After that lovely week (the same week as my exam), I had a detoxing weekend. Detoxing from the massive consumption of alcohol at several all-night "happy hours" that were far from happy, and detoxing from the hours of studying the prior weekend. Then, I had to fly out to Jacksonville. It was a last minute trip that had been placed on the back burner while all the cuts had occurred. Not much work had gotten done at all that week. But so yes, as soon as it looked like I'd have a chance to breath and start studying...I was on a flight down south. The Jacksonville trip was good, but made for yet another hectic week. I crammed about a week's worth of audit walkthroughs into two days and tried to study on the plane without passing out from exhaustion.
So now its Sunday and my weekend's gone; I'm not quite sure where it went even. Triumph and PF Chang's owned some of it...other parts of it were consumed by spring cleaning, naps, a manicure and pedicure, haircut, food shopping, and who knows what else. It was good, I can't say I didn't enjoy the manicure and pedicure...but there sure could have been more productive ways to spend these past two days.
So Regulation? It was hard. Really hard. Harder than I'd anticipated. Uncomfortably hard. It wasn't, however, bad. I didn't walk out of the test center feeling like I failed...but I didn't walk out knowing that I passed either. I was just glad to have it over with. The simulations were probably the worst part. Becker's sample simulations were long and detailed, based on tax forms. Intricate, but logical. The actual simulations on the exam were nothing even remotely similar and it threw me for a loop. They might have been easy, but I was so caught off guard that they were just plain hard.