I have four weeks. Four weeks until I start classes (Fixed Income and Derivatives II and Ethics II) back up at Creighton’s MSAPM program. From 20 October until 14 December, I will not have much of a life.

What should I do with these four weeks before October 20th?

It still feels a bit early to start studying intensely for the CFA Level II exam. I feel as though I should be making some productive use of this time though. Reviewing my goals, I see I have a few things other than the MSAPM program or the CFA exams to work on.

I signed up with Babbel.com for some “Deutsch lernen”. I plan on putting a few hours a week towards improving my German proficiency.

My main focus during these four weeks, will be on improving my MS Excel proficiency. In particular I want to work on matrix algebra and figure out how to more efficiently optimize portfolios. Currently my Excel formula for the risk of a seven-asset portfolio looks something like this:

=(((C6^2)*(C5^2))+((D6^2)*(D5^2))+((E6^2)*(E5^2))+((F6^2)*(F5^2))+((G6^2)*(G5^2))+((H6^2)*(H5^2))+((I6^2)*(I5^2))+(2*C6*D6*Covariance!C5)+(2*C6*E6*Covariance!C6)+(2*C6*F6*Covariance!C7)+(2*C6*G6*Covariance!C8)+(2*D6*E6*Covariance!D6)+(2*D6*F6*Covariance!D7)+(2*D6*G6*Covariance!D8)+(2*E6*F6*Covariance!E7)+(2*E6*G6*Covariance!E8)+(2*F6*G6*Covariance!F8)+(2*C6*H6*Covariance!C9)+(2*Solver!D6*Solver!H6*Covariance!D9)+(2*Solver!E6*Solver!H6*Covariance!E9)+(2*Solver!F6*Solver!H6*Covariance!F9)+(2*Solver!G6*Solver!H6*Covariance!G9)+(2*Solver!H6*Solver!I6*Covariance!H10)+(2*Solver!C6*Solver!I6*Covariance!C10)+(2*Solver!D6*Solver!I6*Covariance!D10)+(2*Solver!E6*Solver!I6*Covariance!E10)+(2*Solver!F6*Solver!I6*Covariance!F10)+(2*Solver!G6*Solver!I6*Covariance!G10)^0.5)

Using matrix algebra my Excel formula for portfolio risk should look more like this though:

=sqrt(mmult(mmult(transpose(H8:H15),Covariance!N4:Covariance!U11),H8:H15))

As you can see, the matrix algebra formula is much cleaner, shorter and less prone to error. The advantages are obvious. I haven’t been able to get the matrix algebra in Excel to quite work just yet, but I haven’t made a serious attempt at it either. Lucky for me there are geniuses already on YouTube who are shining a light on my path to understanding matrix algebra with Excel.

So, the plan for now is to work on Excel proficiency and when I need a break from Excel I will walk my dog or work on some Deutsch. Dog walking and German lessons would be an improvement over my usual time-wasting activities of watching squirrels on skateboards, witty political memes, ridiculous selfies, 2-legged dogs or whatever other drivel comes through on my Facebook feed.