A CFA success story

Anybody who ever spent 5 minutes on AF knows that the CFA designation is no magic bullet that will automatically land you one of those much coveted jobs in SS ER or at a hedge fund - mostly thanks to iteracom. Yet in some cases the CFA designation might just be the little push that tips the scale in your favor. As it did for me.

I guess I want to post my story as a counterweight to the many discouraging threads in here, as advice for anybody in a similar situation and of course to give thanks for the constructive feedback and help I have received on AF (that’s you Ohai, magic2000, bchad, CFAvsMBA, Drago, etc) .

Even though I would have liked to start working in finance right after graduation, having been to an average school with average grades and no internships at any of the big firms, I didn’t expect to have much chance breaking in. I was happy to get an IT/project mgmt. job at a Swiss bank ca. 2.5 years ago. About the same time I enrolled in the CFA program still without a clear agenda, mostly because I like finance and thought my degree didn’t cover all areas sufficiently. Somewhere between level 1 and 2 I realized that asset/portfolio mgmt. is what I really, really want to do. So, I spent the last two years working towards an internal transfer and just last week I received the good news. I will start my new job in portfolio mgmt. by the end of the year.

Certainly, a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time played a big role but looking back I can identify 3 major success factors:

  1. Networking: I don’t mean kissing ass, or annoying people at industry events, that might work too, I don’t know. What worked for me was to get to know the team and the department where I wanted to transfer to, showing an interest in their work and to simply hang out with them for an after work beer. Having a good reputation throughout the firm helped in my case as well.

  2. CFA: As I said above, I believe my progress towards the designation got me a foot in the door. Maybe it was particularly helpful because I knew the guy I would be working for is also a charterholder. There was some additional bonding over my ongoing exam preparations.

  3. Interview: Even an excellent networker that crushed all three exams, still needs to convince the right people to hire him. I had to interview like everyone else and I am sure there were dozens of candidates with better CVs than mine. My advice here: solid preparation and no fap

Did the CFA program get me that job? Probably not but it was an important part of the puzzle. What I am trying to say is just this: with a background like mine, it might not be easy but it damn sure is possible

Great story, congrats. Those 3 things helped me me break in as well, good advice.

Thank you for sharing!

Bravo Eskimo!

Do I dare ask how I helped? I may not be the brightest brotha, but I am the most optimistic and hard working one. Optimism+Hard Work = Lucky Breaks. The naysayers who say things cannot be done have simply constructed a self fulfilling prophecy.

Congratulations on your new job.

I can admit that this place can be very discouraging sometimes.

But in my experience it’s just typical of online forums in general: obsessive personalities who love to talk about about their achievements and their credentials. It certainly doesn’t correspond to reality.

Yay! Great to hear some good news now and then. Congratulations!

That is exactly what I meant. Sometimes all you need is a brotha who just won’t give up. On anything. Always encouraging, never defeatist. Good stuff


From a guy who can’t wait to write his success story :wink:

Thanks for sharing bro! Hope you kick a** at your new job :smiley:

Hey I’m so happy for you well done sir :)) this is good stuff we need more of this to go around

Congrats man! IT to PM is a big jump!

An important takeaway of this story is that an internal transfer into a desirable position is generally easier than trying to get hired into that same position as an outsider.

well done bro. Really like hearing this stuff.

These are the post I like to see! I take the negative doom & gloom post with a grain of salt. I don’t let anyone define me on what I can and cannot do. Hard work and putting yourself out there gets the job done… period. I just got awarded the charter last week and started the new job search last week as well.

Congrats man!

Well, it was easier for me anyway but it also depends on the person. For a colleague of mine the opposite might be true. Great CV, top grades but not very sociable/likeable. Were the two of us in a typical, anonymous application process, I wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. But if he had applied for the same position internally as well, I doubt he would have gotten the job.

Guess you have to play your strenghts.

PS: thanks to eveyone for the kind words, really appreciate it

Congratulations my eskimo friend.

Congrats, that makes it all seem worth it. A very motivating and inspiring story.