Can anyone give me some guidance?

Hello, I am new to the forum. I could really use a little help. I have been intersted in pursuing the CFA for a number of years. I graduated from Northeastern Univeristy in Boston with a BSc in Finance in 2003, I am 35 years old, I need to explain myself a bit, so here goes. I have worked in a number of finance settings from age 16 onward, early as a runner, then as a clerk, in operations for the Harvard University Endowment, all before I got my degree; later I worked for the NYBOT before the ICE bought them I tried to trade oil, gold, currencies, most things with an interst rate orientation after they closed the floor as I couldnt find a new job (I fell in love with the futures market in college, my father was an NYSE member, so I have been pretty damn lucky, it helped me get some of those positions) I got my ass kicked trying to trade those markets online, only after I lost a lot of money did I tune into the fact that I was probably trading against a lot of computers, I am not sure I am a very good trader, I had some huge trades, but lost more than I made in the end. All the exchange consolidation in the last few years and HFT has really rearranged the business, then the mortgage meltdown happened and I was so ashamed of the business at that point, I went back to school, first I wanted to leave the business and pursued org psych, that wasnt for me, so I managed to get accepted back to Northeastern in the engineering program and figured I may as well learn computers since I lost my job to one. Well, school is 50% more expensive than even 10 years ago, so I was running out of money and could see the amount of effort and dedication as well as money it would take to earn another BSc was really going to add up, and somewhere in there, some contrarian thinking kicked in and I realized real estate is going to be a huge opporunity in coming years (probably), why not get a part time job to make a few bucks. I had no problem passing the test, and bam, got my first job easily, lasted 2 weeks got fired for something stupid, had a new job within 4 hours (the standards in real esate are a bit lower, I am incredibly smart financially compared to many of my peers in this biz) so, since it is brokerage I took to it like a fish to water, apparently I am good at selling things? I dont know but I have gotten alot of compliments in the last two plus years. At this point I have been at this firm for 2 years this october, it is a small niche office and I work with landlods and investment clients due to my background and financial acumen, as well as renters we are in mostly rentals and investment sales, I do not really engage in the sterotypical type of real estate most think of.

I am making OK money and like the business, but I have larger ambitions due to my slanted view of money, I do not see making $100k a year as making very much. I think on a larger scale and want to advance myself, so here is why I am writing all this; I have a decent job, I could stick with it, and probably have a good life, but, I have always wanted to work in ANALYTICS, I am very analytical and quite good at it I think, but it has been so damn hard to break out of the trading oriented background. So here I am again in more of a brokerage style job that I am not sure I love, but its been a great experience thus far, I have really fallen in love with cash flow property and would really like to have a REIT or some kind of real estate investment fund someday, if I were ever that lucky. So I am writing this as there is so much conflicting information, am I too old to embark on the CFA path? I see it as a way to acquire the tools, contacts, knowlegede, all kinds of positive things that I am intersted in pursuing. I am not married, I do not have kids, but if I am going to do it, I need to start now. The things is, alot of my finance experience really wouldnt appear on my CV at this point, my more current experience is in real estate, the NYBOT and trading for myself were from about 2005-2008, so would i be seen as trying to break into finance? I am really just returning.

Here are my questions:

  1. Am I too old for the CFA?

  2. How does working in real estate look to a perosn I might send my CV to, even if it says Passed level I o fthe CFA, or even level II

  3. Is the real estate a plus as I want to continue in real estate, more on the analytical side, I would love to cover some kind of real estate sector or soemthing.

  4. I would take level I then go look for a job in finance, or would it be better to take II or all III? HOw does it look if you pass all 3 exams and have no experience? Do they want to train you? wat is more desireable in a job candidate?

I am sorry this post is so long. I really could use some feedback and look forward to being part of the forum.

  1. NO

  2. & 3) I am not sure CFA benefits you in the Real Estate industry. Honestly, I wrote all 3 exams and i can put everything in learned about real estate on a sticky note. The material in the CFA curriculum on RE is so trivial that i would AMAZE if they value it for their analyst positions.

  3. I am a bit confused. Would you STOP looking for work if you are enrolled in the program? And why would you?? Here’s the thing, studying and working are not mutually exclusive and it’s not meant to be. If you find a job while you’re studying, GREAT, if not, you study on. As for passing all 3 exams with out experience, it’s never a good idea but you don’t have “no experience” you have experience but just not in the field you’re breaking into.

I would strongly suggest you to do more research on the jobs that you’re interested and see what they are truly asking for. AND i don’t know if the jobs you describe pay any (or much) more than $100K, or whatever you are currently making. so you may have to sacrifice on pay to realize your dream - you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it if they end of paying you $80K, $100K or $120K?

And with your experience, try to leverage on your contacts and network. you may be surprised how much you can milk from the people you already know (or met).

Good luck,


If real estate is what you are looking to stick to, I don’t see the CFA program as helping you a great deal

I am surprised no one is familiar with risk management and real estate portfolios or currency risk and international holdings?. So an analyst who wants to cover say the homebuilding sector doesn’t really need the CFA? I’m not sure you really read what I wrote or maybe it isn’t clear? Why would real estate, home building stocks or reits be any different than anything else? Does a person covering the oil stocks want the CFA or the caia? I am sorry if my initial post was unclear. I’d love to be a real estate portfolio manager for example, citigroup had some head of their real estate division on NBC, all the big banks are in real estate and real estate has alot of interest rate risk to say the least. Regarding income, doesn’t everyone want $1 million or $10million bonus? In addition to salary or am I just overly ambitious?

You are not too old for the CFA.

I would look for your desired job before starting any studying though.

Your desired job may only pay $50k/yr.

The readings on Real Estate (as a direct investment) and REITs in the CFA curriculum are so limited, and i can probably sum everything up in half a page or so - i have not studied CAIA but perhaps they are considered alternative investments and are more elaborate in that program?

I do think you are too ambitious. Not to say that it is impossible but the competition is stiff. Think about how many people actually make that kind of money and how many qualified individuals out there already working under those people who hold those positions. And even if you start now, who knows how many years it will take you to get to the top?

You are more likely to make millions from flipping properties on the side then getting those jobs, IMHO.

Good luck