Age Factor


I will be 44 in December. Currently working in IT field in Asset Mangement and trying hard to steer my carrer in some meaninful direction. I am a developer. Will going after CFA title really gonna help me in future? I mean what kind of openings I can get lets say if I clear my CFA in next 4 years. I will be 48 then. Am I too late for the game and should stick to IT.

Any thoughtful ideas appreciated.

You ever think about becoming a financial advisor and building your own book of clients? This would be, IMO, a meaningful position that can be continued into retirement. So maybe start this part-time and then go full-time once you retire from your IT job. Additionally, in this position, your age would be an asset. I’m not sure I would waste time trying to break into an new area where people your age have 10-20yrs of experience. Just my 2 cents.

Zesty, What is IMO? I am not clear from your reply. Are you implying I should go for CFA and should think more in shaping myself as Financial advisor rather trying to break into CFA Job? My other reason I was getting interested in CFA was since I joined Asset Management-Risk, last year and found this area interesting. So thinking it as long term carrer and even if I stay in IT having CFA would additionally help in understanding what Risk Analyst and Portfolio Managers are looking for.

If you’re just starting in your 40s, it’s going to be hard to find a position. You will be too old and likely overqualified for junior positions (many of which bank on your being able to work 80 hour weeks), and you won’t be experienced enough for senior ones. However, on the private wealth management side, age can work more in your favor, because people, particularly people later in life (which is when they tend to have more assets), are often nervous about having “young guns” manage their money: they are sometimes perceived to be risker and perhaps having less knowledge of all phases of the business cycle. So your age can work to your advantage in private wealth or as a financial advisor. CFA may be overkill vs. something like a CFP, but it isn’t bad if you’re willing to do the work. I started the CFA in my mid-late 30s and even though it was difficult for me to make the transition (for the reasons stated above), the CFA gave me the confidence I needed to talk intelligently about financial markets (though for me it helped to have another background that could combine with the CFA material). IMO = netspeak for “In my opinion” I forgot that you said you were in IT in Asset Management. That means you have a built-in network that can help you… It may be hard to get on a portfolio management track, but if you have decent quant skills, it may be easier for you go the risk management route. Another idea is to find someone in your firm who is into trading or systematic portfolio management… they may want a developer to help them refine ideas and turn that into a trading system or quantitative portfolio management approach. If you probe around and ask leading questions about who does systems trading or quant portfolio management, you may find someone who wants a developer. In that case, CFA would likely help, in that you will be able to talk about a lot of key portfolio ideas in the way that a traditional IT guy wouldn’t. Just a thought.

As bchadwick said, network and leverage your current skill set. What sort of IT do you do? This would direct you better Systematic trading would be the quickest way to transition over. However, you would be looking at (typically short term) technical trading rather than (typically long term) fundamental investing. CFA is very much geared towards fundamental investing (investing based on company fundamentals - balance sheet etc) and portfolio management (looking at the investor to guage their risk tolerance / unique circumstances and creating a portfolio of investments). So you would learn something useful. However, you might want to look at the CAIA which covers quant trading and is ‘easier’ to acquire than the CFA to get a taste of the subject matter and to see whether you like studying it. A more indepth course is the CMT. In direct answer to your question, CFA would likely not do much for your career (you never know) but would develop your knowledge.

I will look into CAIA. Is it tough as same level as CFA? Thanks so much to everybody for giving valuable advice.

You people are certainly generous. While the suggestions are good options, think hard about it, because the odds against you are much higher than it may appear.

i think chad is 100% here. I haven’t been around a lot, but i have yet to see someone over 30 with more than 3-4 years experience get in as a analyst or associate. CAIA is a joke. don’t waste your money. complete garbage designation.

If you want to take your career in a meaningful direction at this point in time - then becoming an Associate (if possible) is not the best option. You assets right now are your contacts in Asset Management IT and your experience. I don’t think it’s a really wise decision to flush it all in drain for a banking gig, and for what seriously? Reputation… no, you’ll be the old uncle! Banking IT market is thriving right now, look up your contacts book and start consulting, or start providing risk management or IB IT solutions. It’s a big time for finance IT guys as hordes of regulations are coming in IB, you need IT for everything, and in the place where I work, I can clearly see it happening. Moreover, banks are now realizing that how terrible and painful it can get for business if the internal IT is ignored. In current scenario, IT infrastructure in Banks is highly fragmented, inefficient, sluggish, prone to crash, and nearly a systemic issue. And it’s not that banks are ignorant about this, they are now looking at it more seriously, so there’s much upside (atleast for you) to go in Bank IT rather than Bank research. If you still choose Sell Side research (irrespective of your chances), which is in downtrend, over IT, which is in uptrend, than I guess there’s a huge confirmation Bias you are factoring in your choice. Moreover, you will be having a wife and kids too, think about them, their future, and the happiness of your family, you can’t be serious about trading all of that for vanity.

He hasn’t said anything about being an analyst. If you have done the CAIA, you will know that you cover quant trading / technical analysis. If anything lends itself to the IT specialist role, it is technical trading. Understand you are a fundamental investor and it would have more limited use (maybe he can programme portfolio construction tools / analysis, but that’s more for support than being in the markets and making it big)

well, i took the first level of CAIA. thought it was complete garbage. didn’t even bother with the second level. the whole point of paying for a designation is to get recognition and i highly doubt CAIA will be meaningful in any way. I could be very wrong on this one but I just asked a trader (not prop) and he confirmed it was useless. He said recent hires were all comp/math/econ with no cfa.

Complete garbage is a bit strong no? Has overlaps with CFA, so is that part of the curriculum useless. In fact what is useless about learning about commodities/private equity/hedge fund strategies and so on? Methinks you doth protest too much. From where I am sitting, you could use what you learned in level 1 of CAIA to programme your own managed futures / trend following / mean reversion strategy and back test if you were a good IT programmer and understand the thinking. It’s not all contained in there, but it is a start and everyone needs to start somewhere. Alternatively, you could begin with a book from one of the turtles and read a bunch of other books from the established technical traders and go from there. The difference is that you can’t necessarily market the latter as much as it is off your own bat. Traders often get hired from school and then learn on the job, that’s not the point. There are lots of different types of traders, but the majority use technicals as trading is clearly based around momentum and volatility. There is little need for the CFA as it is about fundamentals and better directed towards security analysis, portfolio management and asset allocation. Trading is not the name of the game for CFA. The OP should play to his strengths - network and speciality. Now he has to figure how to transition with that.

Ok. I have to ask this. What’s so bad about IT? At 48 years old, you’ll be closer to retirement than the beginning of your career. Is switching to “asset management” in an entry level capacity really going to give you more money than doing something that directly takes advantage of your 20+ years of experience in IT? Do you think front office finance is some kind of holy grail profession that will fulfill all your dreams? This is a serious question. You’re not the first 40-something IT person to post this question on AF. What is up with this?

when I say complete garbage, what I mean is the value of the designation. anybody here ever got a job cause of the CAIA or got any real recognition because of it? doubtful. CAIA is easy and inferior in brand value compared to CFA and even the FRM. passing the CAIA says very little. i agree that the knowledge in CAIA is important and relevant (but what isn’t really?).

I’ve seen some IT guys in asset management firms with the CFA in large asset management firms (think PIMCO/BlackRock) but they are probably in there early to mid 30s. I think they are responsible for Fixed Income data intregrety from service providers and developing tools for the investment staff with there investment knowledge. If your high up on the food chain then I don’t think it would be a good idea to go to a mid-level job just for a career change. Just get a new hobby or maybe do an exec MBA program if your employeer pays for it. FrankArabia, you’re a Charterholder? I didn’t realize, congrats!

I agree with Ohai here. Why would you want to switch a respectable career in your mid 40’s? If you really want to be involved with finance why not do it on a personal level? Save some dough and invest on your own or start your own business in something that’s of interest to you.

I’m not necessarily saying that he shouldn’t do it. I’m just curious about the cost-benefit analysis that is going on in the minds of 40-something IT people. Do they know something that I don’t know?

ohai, you’re absolutely right. if he hasn’t worked his way to front office, it won’t happen at this stage. why would someone hire a 40 year old when they can pay someone less and could be more willing to slave it out.

Ok Guys thanks for all the suggestions (and making fun of my age :slight_smile: ). I certainly do not feel that old and as I started my studies again six months back (for my Project Managemet exam) it’s making me feel young again so I thought why not try something big. But I think some of them you are right that I need to be practical. But if I think other way, pursuing CFA is just not for switching carrer but it will greatly expand my knowledge which will definitely help me where I am. After discussing with other colleagues someone suggested FRM. Anybody else has ideas about FRM?

munishk, just remember not to base too many of your life decisions on the advice of people in their 20s, and even early 30s. Just remember how broad and nuanced your perspective was in your 20s, and you’ll know to take it all with a grain of salt. This is a reconnaissance mission. To change in your 40s requires a different strategy, and your future will probably not look like their future. But you also have a different opportunity set than they do, and a different ability to manage the change. The key issue is that you need to find out what it is that you can add value to, and find the people to sell that skill to. The lesson that it took me longer to learn is not to expect people to do any thinking that they don’t absolutely have to do, so it’s up to you to figure out how you can help people in the industry that you are targeting and then make that case. I think for someone with your background, the way to do it is to get involved in trading systems development. There’s almost always someone in an asset management business that wants to strike out on their own and do their own trading or portfolio management skills, and they often need a developer (or a marketer). You probably aren’t suited for the marketing role, but you could be suited for the development role. Trading is a little different from investing, because the time frames are typically (not always, but often) too short for most fundamental analysis type bets to pay off. CFA will build some of your financial credibility in terms of knowing how to construct portfolios and value things, but it will take a long time, and may not help you the most. Still, it’s a useful marketing device for a career changer. I’d recommend you read Van Tharp’s book, “Trade your Way to Financial Freedom,” which is a horrible title (sounds like a snake oil salesman), but an excellent book. Then follow it up with Ernie Chan’s “Quantitative Trading,” which will give you a sense of how some of these things are done. Then start using your network at your firm to learn about traders who might be thinking about striking it out on their own, and try to make yourself available as a resource to them. The CFA will help, both with more credibility about financial matters, and with your own confidence about what’s going on, but it’s a long slog, and some of this other stuff can get you up and running whether or not you do this.