Help!! Should I start CFA at the age of 33?

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CFA aspirant2013's picture


Hello,
 
Hope I am coming to the right place for this question, which bothered me for months.
I am 33, had been in finance industry for 3 +years, but engaged in retail and corporate investment advisor. I had been considering starting CFA for career development.
However, my career has now 5 yrs of break for family reasons, I again want to start and willing to join equity research in USA as i live here now, but my old experience is in Asia,  Would it be too late? Is it possible for career change even at this age and with that long break?
 
BTW, english is not my native language, but there shall not be a big issue for languages since i had already done bachelor in commerce and MBA in Finance from one of the Asian Universities.
 
Many thanks,
 

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Greenman72's picture

I wouldn’t do it. 

I’m 33 and a family man myself.  And a native English speaker. 

I think that you will find that most companies want a young person, because it’s easier to work them 12-15 hours a day, and they can travel on a moment’s notice.  No thinking about wives/kids involved.  Or they want somebody who is experienced.  Right now, you don’t fit either bill. 

Don’t underestimate how much the exam will take away from your family.  You’ll spend ~1000 hours prepping for a test that  will probably have zero benefit to you.  Better that you spend that working on your existing career or vacationing with your family. 

Don't mistake lack of talent for genius. --Peter Steele

Would You Look at That's picture
itera's picture

I wouldn’t do it.  It’s a steep uphill climb.

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

Capt. Save_A_Ho's picture

Wait…  Have u looked at Claritas? 

The Righteous Hacksaw's picture

^ Wooohooo

No Homo

NANA Hachiko's picture

I think if you have experience in Asia you may have some luck in the states, if they are looking for equity analyst for asia pacific regions??

It’s hard to say for sure, but it may work to your advantage.

I don’t think 33 is too old, but i think you should definitely think about time commitment and keep networking to see what kind of role suits you best.

good luck!!! ^_^

bchad's picture

33 is not too old; however the bigger question is whether you can get to a part of the industry that will value these exams.  The exams can help in a number of ways, but they are unlikley to be enough on their own.

If your network from your fomer work is good enough to get you there or a decent shot, then don’t let the starting age be a big issue.  The CFA exams were intended as mid-career professionalization, which most people do in their late twenties or early thirties.

In any case, it can’t hurt to get started on Level 1 just to see if this stuff appeals to you and get a taste of how much work the thing is going to be.

You want a quote?  Haven’t I written enough already???

JBrowntown's picture

I started Level I at 34.

Wubba Wubba Wubba

S2000magician's picture

JBrowntown wrote:
I started Level I at 34.

I at 38.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

anks612's picture

If you already have a job lined up in Equity Research, then it makes sense to enroll. 

However, if you are hoping that passing CFA exams will land you a job in ER, then I would advise against it. The exams are a lot of hard work and there is no gurantee that it will help you to break in to ER. There are already lots of Level 1 and 2 passed folks who are much younger than you looking to get in to the field.

Alternatively, you can try passing going for Level 1 exam and see if that along with your work experience helps you get a job.  If Level 1 can’t get you a job, then there is only a marginally better chance that Level 2 and 3 will help you get one.

The bottom line is getting a job should be your first priority. CFA only helps to boost credentials if you are already in the field. Trying to break in by passing the exams is a highly risky and uncertain strategy and simply not worth the pain.

CFA aspirant2013's picture

Thanks everybody for your inputs

I am simply sitting at home from Aug 2008 ( family reasons) though I have all degrees i.e. bachelors & masters in commerce and MBA in Finance, I did jobs in financial institutions as a Investment Advisor but after a gap of 5 yrs I am not feeling confident to start again my career with these credentials.

It’s true I am enrolling to  CFA for getting job in equity research and I am really confused where to start..how to enter in equity research world???

pls help me!!

kurtosis's picture

A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times. 

If you really want to, I’m sure you can handle passing 3 exams at  33.

In other words, age is not the issue here.

Greenman72's picture

kurtosis wrote:

A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times. 

And by doing that, she accomplished….what, exactly?  I guess she got a sense of accomplishment out of it. 

If you’re doing it for intangible reasons (e.g. pride), then that’s one thing.  If you’re doing it to get a monetary or economic benefit, you should think twice.  (Note–doing it for pride or self-esteem reasons is not a bad thing.  That’s probably half the reason I did it.)

Don't mistake lack of talent for genius. --Peter Steele

S2000magician's picture

Greenman72 wrote:
kurtosis wrote:

A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times.

And by doing that, she accomplished….what, exactly?  I guess she got a sense of accomplishment out of it.

And may have inspired two or three people to continue to pursue their goals after the odd setback or two.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

bahgill's picture

What would you be doing with your time otherwise? If instead of studying youd be sitting around watching tv and doing next to nothing, then there is literally no drawback of at least giving it a shot in my eyes other than the fees associated with taking the exam. Put in as much time you can and if it works out, great, having your charter couldnt ever really make you LESS marketable, if it doesnt at least you know that its not for you.

kurtosis's picture

Greenman72 wrote:

And by doing that, she accomplished….what, exactly? 

And by writing the CFA exams you’re accomplishing…what, exactly? Your “sense of accomplishment” (or whatever “good” reason you have) still doesn’t ultimately mean anything. You’ll still wind up as dead and forgotten as all the other hundreds of millions of people who have died - wether they were unemployed losers or rich money men.

She probably did it because she wanted to prove to herself that she could. When people asked him why he wanted to climb Everest, Greg Mallory said  ”because it’s there”. And if that’s not a good enough reason for you, well then why should we care?

itera's picture

kurtosis wrote:

A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times. 

If you really want to, I’m sure you can handle passing 3 exams at  33.

In other words, age is not the issue here.

in other news, a man shoved 400 straws in his mouth for 10 seconds and earned a place in world records.

Not sure how that correlates to getting a job in ER.

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

S2000magician's picture

itera wrote:
kurtosis wrote:
A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times. 

If you really want to, I’m sure you can handle passing 3 exams at  33.

In other words, age is not the issue here.

in other news, a man shoved 400 straws in his mouth for 10 seconds and earned a place in world records.

Not sure how that correlates to getting a job in ER.

Probably a higher correlation to getting a job in HR.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

woodywoodford's picture

kurtosis wrote:

A 64 year old woman swam from Cuba to Florida, without a cage in shark-infested waters. After failing to succeed the previous 3 times. 

If you really want to, I’m sure you can handle passing 3 exams at  33.

In other words, age is not the issue here.

My favorite part of that story is from fallon (or leno, can’t remember) - “Suuuure, cause she’s the first one to make that swim without a cage…”

Ashakir's picture

I can’t believe people are saying 33 is too old…pursuing cfa at this age is perfectly normal and fine…I know lot of people who have started cfa in 30s including my company ceo….cfa teaches you about finance and add credentials to your name..I don’t understand how can pursuing a highly respected qualification late…..people who say its too late don’t know what they are talking about…. I have been working in asset management industry for past 7 years and recently started pursuing cfa cos my initial plan for masters in finance from lbs did not materialise cos of personal reasons…go ahead and pursue cfa I can assure you ..you are on the right track …this is coming from a man who has worked in equity research, product development and now moving to fund management 

Goodluck 

And if your head explodes with dark forbidding tunes...i'll see you on the darkside of the moon..

Marathon_runner's picture

Since when is 33yo considered to be old?  This isn’t professional sports we’re talking about here.

itera's picture

Ashakir wrote:

I can’t believe people are saying 33 is too old…pursuing cfa at this age is perfectly normal and fine…I know lot of people who have started cfa in 30s including my company ceo….cfa teaches you about finance and add credentials to your name..I don’t understand how can pursuing a highly respected qualification late…..people who say its too late don’t know what they are talking about…. I have been working in asset management industry for past 7 years and recently started pursuing cfa cos my initial plan for masters in finance from lbs did not materialise cos of personal reasons…go ahead and pursue cfa I can assure you ..you are on the right track …this is coming from a man who has worked in equity research, product development and now moving to fund management 

Goodluck 

you have missed the point.  The point people are saying about it “being too old” is that he’s trying to break into something new, and using the CFA at this age to break in. 

If he’s already been working in ER or asset management etc.. and he wants to pursue the CFA at 33, of course no one will call that old. 

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

S2000magician's picture

Marathon_runner wrote:
Since when is 33yo considered to be old?  This isn’t professional sports we’re talking about here.

Paul Newman drove LeMans well into his 70s.

He said that he was happy he finally found something at which he was good.

Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.

CFA aspirant2013's picture

Guys!! 

My problem is 5 yrs of gap , I mean I quit my job on Aug 2008 as a investment Advisor  in Asia,  now I live in USA, I am 33 and I really want a new start in ER.

what should be my strategy ???

Capt. Save_A_Ho's picture

Your only chance is to find a gay guy that could hire you and offer your services.

spunboy's picture

Why is everyone so focused on ER as if it was the only challenging/rewarding area of finance? 

OP, if you’re dead set in working in ER, you might want to start as an assistant portfolio manager at a wealth management firm.  If you live in an area in the US with a high Asian population (Cali) that speaks your native tongue, your language skills might give you an edge to get your foot in the door.  Get the charter while you’re working and look for opportunities as they pop up. 

“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”  Wernher von Braun

Greenman72's picture

To Spunboy you listen. 

You shouldn’t get the charter in hopes of getting a job.  You should get a job, then concurrently pursue the charter. 

Don't mistake lack of talent for genius. --Peter Steele

PistolPt's picture

I started the process at 29. At 34 I have it.  You can have it by 35-36 if you play your cards right.

Greenman is right though, get a job and do it concurrently. I didn’t go forward with my CFA until I knew I was getting a job in finance.

spunboy's picture

Greenman72 wrote:

To Spunboy you listen. 

You shouldn’t get the charter in hopes of getting a job.  You should get a job, then concurrently pursue the charter. 

I thought I was saying the same thing.

spunboy wrote:

OP, if you’re dead set in working in ER, you might want to start as an assistant portfolio manager at a wealth management firm.  If you live in an area in the US with a high Asian population (Cali) that speaks your native tongue, your language skills might give you an edge to get your foot in the door.  Get the charter while you’re working and look for opportunities as they pop up. 

“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”  Wernher von Braun

kurtosis's picture

If your problem is a 5 year gap of no finance work experience (or worse, no work at all), then you need a really good explanation for what you did in those 5 years.

f you can’t come up with anything your best bet is to go back to school in a master’s or PhD program. The vast majority of US employers don’t give a crap about your degree from an Asian university, unless the school has some international reputation.

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