Can this job earn my CFA designation?


I passed my CFA L3 in 2010. Now I’m graduating with a Ph.D in physics and going to have an opportunity to work in a small hedge fund/investment management firm as an “trading system operator”. To my understanding, this job deals with their intermediate/high frequency trading system and quite “IT”.

I’m worried that the experience in such a job would not qualify the CFA work experience. So should I take this job or try to get a job such a equity research analyst in some asset management firm?


If it directly contributes to the investment decision or portfolio construction, it’s good. This should do it. If you can show how your work ties to specific LOSs in the curriculum, that will help.

Thanks for your replying. I believe it certainly contributes to the investment decision. But I’m not sure if it “directly” contributes since I haven’t got in. I think the job is somewhere between financial software developer and quantitative analyst.

This definitely sounds like it should qualify. What this company calls “operators” sounds very much like what my company calls traders. These people (in my company) are hired because they’re smart and because they can understand and enhance complex trading strategies. These people are usually very fast as well, i.e. can do maths quickly under a lot of pressure. They will usually also be the people who can give the best feedback on how well their systems are working in the current market and provide input/analysis on how these strategies can be improved. These people are not monkeys who just sit and “operate”, they definitely add to the bottom line. So with regards to CFA work qualification, you really shouldn’t have a problem. With regard to what you want to do, the type of work you’ll be doing between this job and an equity research analyst job couldn’t be more different. You really need to ask yourself what turns you on. Personally, I would be more attracted to the trading system operator role, but that’s not because it’s better in any way, it’s just that to me it’s more exciting. You mentioned the job is “quite IT”. I’m a little confused about this. Are you being hired as an “operator”, a quant, or a developer, or is this job all in one type thing? Can you clarify the job description a bit more? If it’s more of a dev job, then I would probably recommend the analyst job.

Hi, thank you very much for replying. The “operator” job is actually to write computing scripts/codes to check if the trading system is functioning well and the latency the trades are executed. The duty of the operator coordinates with system developers, database … people to make sure the automatic trading system is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s a pretty busy job since the operator needs to respond to trader’s problems in day time for US markets and late night or early morning for Asian markets. As a phd and cfa l3 holder, I don’t wanna do such a job all my rest life, though the pay seems to be very reasonable. But I’m still trying to see the exit strategy of this role.

Hmmm… okay, scratch everything I said. This isn’t a trading job. This sounds very much like a support developer kind of role. With regards to CFA work qualification: I’m no expert (L1 candidate myself). If I were to guess, I’d say NO, or at best marginal. I’ll leave it to someone more qualified than myself to answer this. With regards to your career: I would be a bit careful with this type of role. It does sound very “supporty” which isn’t that great. If you are going to go down the IT route, and given your background I think you could a lot better. Your qualifications (i.e. PhD in physics combined with CFA studies) are golden for opportunities way beyond this job (given the info you provided that is). Have you looked at Quant roles or Quant Developer roles at all? These combine strong math and finance skills and would qualify for CFA work experience as well. At the very least, I would suggest looking at full development roles in the kind of places like this hedge fund (i.e. actually building these systems instead of writing scripts to test if the systems are working). Be really careful with that first job you take. I know the money seems really good considering you’ve been living on student budget, but your first job will set up the path to your career so it’s really important you don’t just go for the money. Employers looking at your CV now are going to label you as someone who can do anything (research analyst, quant, trader, etc). Once you have 2 years of doing this job, employers are more likely to focus on your previous experience (i.e. support developer / report builder / IT guy), so you might be shutting doors for yourself by taking this job.

btw - my shop is looking for devs as well as trainee traders in Chicago if you want to have a look. We do high frequency algo/arb trading type stuff.

Yes, I’m interested in those roles in your firm. Can you give me a little more detail? Thanks.

C++ Dev role (we look for grads as well but this should give you an idea) Product Overview: An opportunity exists for a C++ developer within the Chicago Development team. The role is a business facing one working very closely with the traders to implement new ideas and further enhance our in-house developed trading systems. Key resposibilities: Produces the fastest and best trading tools by: • Gaining an understanding of option pricing theory, market making and trading conditions • Actively seeking and clarifying product requirements with end users and other knowledgeable staff • Finding new techniques on how to improve our trading algorithms and systems • Meeting and exceeding end users expectations in terms of functionality, quality and performance • Designing and delivering code with automated testing & performance always in front of mind Improves our development speed by ensuring that: • All software created is of the highest levels of quality, achieves Tibra standards with respect to performance, documentation, testability, robustness and that code review processes etc are followed • Providing feedback on above standards, and suggesting alternatives and refinements • The chosen solution does not limit future development • Projects are carried out in full collaboration with colleagues across the business/offices Skills and Experience required: • Exceptional C++ with strong object oriented design skills • Experience in developing with STL and/or Boost • Understanding and experience in developing performance sensitive systems • Real-time systems development • Experienced in network software development, e.g. socket programming • Good understanding of software development methodologies – especially Scrum/Agile methods • Excellent verbal and written communication skills • Developing automated trading systems (desirable) • Cross-platform development (Windows and Linux) (desirable) • Any C# development experience advantageous • A Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics or relevant degree with software development • Minimum 2 years experience of the above mentioned skills TRAINEE TRADER ROLE Key responsibilities: As a Trader you will work with more Senior Traders to make trading decisions relating to the products and markets you trade. Trading responsibilities include: • Assisting Senior Traders in Market-Making an options book • Setting up your trading desk, reconciling P/L, and creating efficiencies in the trading environment • Monitoring and adjusting your trading positions and risk profile • Understanding your products and markets through thorough analysis • Understanding relevant compliance and regulatory requirements associates with your trading activity Skills and Experience required: • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, preferably in Finance, Mathematics, Economics, Engineering or Actuarial Science. • GPA of 3.2 or higher • Superior numerical and analytical skills • Effective and concise communication skills – both written and verbal • Ability to make many quick, logical decisions under extreme pressure • Ability to remember all notable events from past days, weeks and even months • Ability to maintain high level of concentration for prolonged periods of time • Ability to understand a large amount of new information quickly and be able to apply it effectively • Resilience to criticism and the ability to take feedback in a positive way • High energy and drive • Strong technical aptitude

How can I apply?

• Ability to make many quick, logical decisions under extreme pressure • Ability to remember all notable events from past days, weeks and even months • Ability to maintain high level of concentration for prolonged periods of time • Ability to understand a large amount of new information quickly and be able to apply it effectively ^ These things make me think you are going to be making investment/trading decisions.

I’m 99.99% sure that this job will qualify for CFA work experience. Audit jobs are approved for CFA experience. When in doubt, always compare the job to auditing first.