Any Success Stories?

Any success stories out there from people breaking into the industry or making an unlikely advance/rebound? If there is anybody who did the IT to front office job in the past 2 years, I’m sure EVERYBODY would like to hear your story especially.

ask ray lewis to give you a pep rally to fire you up

Not from IT (frankly, I don’t know how realistic that is), but yes, I went from financial sales/planning at a larger firm (SHUDDER) to a smaller shop as an analyst.

Took me about 2 years, from the point I thought, “Hey, I’d like to be in equity research” to the point where I got my actual, first paycheck for being on the research team. Can post full story if people want to hear it.

I know one developer guy who moved to the trading desk, but he still does mostly application support. Not that being a developer is a bad thing - sure compensation is capped, but you have less stress and more transferable skills in case something happens to your job.

Seriously though, the best chance to move into the “front office” is to get into sales or marketing. “Sales” tends to give prospective applicants a bad first impression, but everyone needs salespeople. So, there is a relative undersupply of salespeople compared to other finance jobs. I’ve seen people go into sales from audit, corporate finance, middle office, and other unrelated jobs. Once you are in sales, you have more exposure to other FO-ish people, so theoretically, it would be easier to move into some other job.

id like to hear it

someone in back office passed FRM (complete exam) and CFA I and II within 6-8 months…

moved to PWM that same year

2 years is actually decent. Putting in the dues is tough, because you need to have some good fortune mixed in

You would hear much more success rates if you asked the question 5 years ago.

Second this – two years is a good return on effort. And sales experience is not bad anyway over the course of your career. Well done, sir.

I’d love to hear the supersadface saga. Also, bromion had a legit post a few years back about some of the sacrifices he has made to advance his career. Does anyone remember it well enough to track it down?

Let’s not track that down lol. But if anyone wants, I’ll answer questions.

Fair enough!

Well, times have been tough for everybody in (or trying to get into) the industry since 2009, so hoping any minor success story would liven things up a bit rather than the usual doom and gloom.

Just checked this thread again. Will get a sanitized version up in a bit - fair warning, it’ll be long.

Oh yeah, so I know one BO guy who moved to trading at a famous hedge fund. Supposedly, he was the “best guy” at their ops. The trader I spoke to more or less said “yeah, I don’t think he will be as smart as the rest of us” and that it was more to reward the guy for loyalty. But the point is that the former ops guy did get his foot in the door.

Gary Cohn got a job by ambushing a trader and convincing him that he knew “everything” about options.

Long post - my success story:

Graduated from an OK school with unexceptional grades. My internships and interview skills were good enough that I landed some interviews with really large broker/dealers in their retail sales departments. Got offers from a few, accepted an offer from a well-known firm.

Did the training, got my licenses, eventually moved into a junior producing role. Did this for a year or so and was doing well, but I realized I didn’t much like being in financial sales, for a few different reasons. I started looking around at other options. Eventually realized that I wanted to be involved in research, since it had attracted me to the industry in the first place. The more I read about breaking into research, the more I realized that it was going to be really difficult – if not impossible.

During my first few years in the industry, had been fortunate enough to meet a single person involved in a research function. I asked this person for career advice and they suggested a few things:

1)Start studying for the CFA exams, since they might (but wouldn’t necessarily) signal that I was serious about the transition.

  1. Start networking like crazy. Expand the number of people and the quality of people I knew till I had a number of contacts who actually worked in research.

I started doing both of those things. I got the books for level I and studied. I also began tracking people (alumni or people once removed from me) down on LinkedIn and meeting them for coffee. Lots of dead ends, but it’s still probably what I’d do again. I would meet people for coffee, explain a bit about my background and what I wanted to do, and then just let them talk for the time we had budgeted. The meetings were almost always worthwhile, taken as a whole. Over the next year, I probably did like at least sixty or seventy of these, and typically about half the people I interviewed could answer at least one of the following:

  1. What else could I be doing that I’m already not?

  2. Do you know a person or two who you’d be willing to introduce me to, who might be willing to speak to me?

Eventually got my results for level one. I passed, which did help a bit – I followed up with all the people nice enough to network with me and thanked them again for their time, advice, etc, and let them know I passed. Got the books for level II, started studying. Still hadn’t told my bosses or colleagues that I was doing any of this – a retail salesperson studying for the CFA is not ‘normal’.

Things started to get really tough around level II. I was working around 45-50 hrs/week, which isn’t killer, but I was also studying for level II like crazy. Getting up at like 5AM 3 days/week and studying 60-90 minutes, getting ready for work, and then studying at the library after work for two or three hours. Study on the weekend days for 4-6 hours too. As I said, I was a really mediocre student, so this was new for me.

I had less time for coffee meetings (though I still did them, when I could), so I focused on following up on all the suggestions made for “what could I be doing to up my chances?” Stuff I remember doing:

  1. Read a ton of suggested books. Lots of investment classics, and others. A great guy I met with sent me a list of like 30 books. I read literally all of these over the next year, and followed up as I finished them.

  2. Run a paper portfolio and treat it like SRS BSNS. Track my buys/sells, performance vs. index, etc.

  3. Do actual investment write-ups (try to imitate a sell-side report or buy-side research piece and do a 5-10 page research paper on a stock) and get feedback on them from people I knew in research.

  4. Learn how to pitch a stock so that if I got asked “what do you like” I could answer and sound decent

  5. Know excel better than I already did. I had fortunately done some jobs that required quite a bit of excel crap, but I bought a few books and read those / worked the examples to learn more

  6. Someone suggested learning how to answer brainteasers (how many fire hydrants in NYC?) since some firms ask them. Got a book of these and learned how to think through these problems out loud

A month before level II, I had told a few [trusted] colleagues at work that I was looking to transition to research and that I had passed level I. People suggested that I should talk to my boss - I had been in my junior sales role a little while and he was planning to bump me up to the next position. Consensus was he might be willing to work with me to get me to my firm’s research department (totally separate from retail sales).

Scheduled a meeting and met the boss - told him that I liked the firm, the people, etc, but that I was thinking about looking for a job in research – what’d he think? It went horribly, about as bad as it could have gone without physical injury. Boss talked it over with HR and got back to me saying that I could either go on a “performance improvement plan” (kiss of death for a salesperson) or I could agree that I would look for a new job over the next three months (inside the company and out). Once the 90 days were up, I had to go.

90 days passed, during which I took level II. I got a job offer inside the company for stuff that was way far away and worse, totally not related to research. I got an offer outside the company to do similar sales work to what I was doing and turned it down. I was now without a job, but had money saved. I redoubled my networking / self-improvement efforts. I went back to people I had met during the past year plus (most of whom I’d kept up with) and brought them up to speed on what I had been doing, asked them the same questions as before. Got some new leads and ideas, followed them all up.

After a month of being unemployed, I was worrying. I didn’t want to have a gap on my resume of more than a month, but I wasn’t getting leads. I decided to pitch myself as a potential intern. At this point, I knew maybe like 9-12 funds, and even had a few people who liked me, knew my story, and appeared to be at least a little bit rooting for me. I put together “hire me as an intern” packages (resume, cover letter, sample reports) and sent them to the funds, letting my contacts there know I was doing it. I got some interviews and eventually, and a small shop agreed to take me on as an (unpaid, yeaaaaaaaaaaah) intern.

Worked my butt off for a few months, all unpaid and slowly burning through my savings. Got my lvl II results (passed). Learned a ton, did a ton of work. At the end of it, PM came to me and made me an offer to join the research team as an analyst.

TL;DR: work like crazy at what you can control, expect it to take forever, eventually get lucky.

amazing story, thanks for sharing

that pretty much sounds like exactly the road ill be on over the next few years…glad to hear how it actually paid off…i work in retail brokerage sales…ive already been posting on how to get good examples of initiating coverage reports so that i can learn the style and content…got a list of good investment books and picked up the first one, although ive found ill need to wait until i finish level 1 before i start it…and will be learning excel modeling in the spring…the networking piece is what im terrible at…and unfortunately…its the most important part…the problem is you dont want to network until you have the confidence that you can speak intelligently so that you dont screw up your network right off the bat…so its a chicken or the egg situation…

Great story, supersadface. Thanks for sharing!