Career Change

I’m an MBA graduate (and BSc. life sciences) with experience in managing ERP, CRM projects. I’m a PMP certificate holder as well. My background is atypical of many CFA charterholders. Recently, I’ve had a passionate change-of-heart and enrolled in the CFA program with full intentions to tread down this path as a long-term career change. I’m 29 years old. My concern isn’t so much of whether I’ll find a job or not, but whether I’ll be able to grasp the material and pass the exams. I’m due to take L1 in June '08. Can anyone shed some realistic light on how difficult this is going to be for someone who doesn’t have any financial anlaysis experience nor a long-term finance education? Remember, I enrolled because I felt I could do it. But how easily?

It is as they say on their (CFA Institute’s) site: minimum 250 hours of study time, but more likely as many of us may attest to you’ll end up with something closer to 300-350 hours of study time. Maybe you’ll want to consider backing up your studying efforts with some extra material (such as additional notes, teaching, questions and so forth). To me, I would feel it is a bit like whether or not to follow the lectures of a university class and whether or not to do practice tests before the exam. How difficult this will be for you is impossible for anyone else to know, only you can know what you’re capable of doing. Hope this was of some use to you.

Coming from someone with no financial background who took the Level 1 exam in December, I can tell you that you’ll end up spending that extra time learning terminology and such. Once you hit the break point where financial statement analysis “makes sense” and you figure out how everything works with one another, the learning will go much faster. There is a learning curve but if you’re smart and study consistently you shouldn’t have a problem. Obviously the more hours you put in, the greater your chances. I did about 350-400 hours and feel like the test could have gone either way although that doesn’t really mean anything. Like wawa said, only you can know what you are really capable of.

I agree with prosetti. That was the sentiment that I felt. I signed up for the Level 1 exam in December 07 (in January) to account for the fact that I didn’t have a finance background. The main part was understanding the terminology and how it fits together. Financial Statement Analysis was a huge PAIN: it was a different way of thinking altogether. I spent more time on that making sure that I at least understand the material. I think that for me that once I understood that for the most part and how the curriculum fits together then it helped me to understand a bit more of the program. I also agree with prosetti that the test can go either way and I hope that I passed. If not, then I will know what I would need to focus on for next time.

It’s certainly refreshing to read all your comments above. I do consider myself to be a smart and confident individual, probably like yourselves, since we decided to tackle the CFA with no finance background. I don’t mind the learning curve and expect it. But if studying consistently and hard enough is what can get me through, then I’m ok.

" I’m a PMP certificate holder as well" how many hos do you need to qualify?

There’s no limit, storko…no limit…