Career changer. CFA best option?

Hi everyone. I, like others on here, am a mid-30’s career changer with no financial background. My degree and past work experience is in advertising/marketing, but I’ve always had an interest in finance and love to study the topic. I’m currently trying to quickly (due to upcoming Level I exam) research what might be my best option for entering the industry and I’m seeking advice. I was originally thinking about going for CFP, but I’m having reservations about it simply being a well-dressed used car salesman. I enjoy working with people and want to genuinely try to help families and individuals with their finances, but I detest the thought of using low-ball methods (cold calls, warm leads etc.) all day to attract clients. There must be a reason why there is a high attrition rate after only a few years in that profession. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but something tells me I would be making calls 90% of a 60-hour workweek and only advising the other 10%. The other option I see is CFA. While infinitely harder to attain than CFP, it appears to be a more stable and highly regarded designation in the industry. Before my questions I would like to add that I’m ready, willing and able to start off at the bottom. I am not working at the moment and I have several months that I can use to devote studying full-time for the Level I exam. Also, I have modest goals. I am not looking to work on Wall St., move to New York or any major financial hub, don’t need to make enormous sums of money or even kill myself to move up to the upper echelons of a company. I just don’t need all that. I would be more than content to make 50k-100k a year and work 40+ hours a week. With all that said, here are my questions: 1. Would entering the CFA program help me to attain some entry level position without prior financial experience at a bank or investment firm? Like I said, I’m willing to be an assistant’s assistant just to get my foot in the door. 2. What might be the kind (or name) of such an entry level position? 3. Would I need to pass the first exam before anyone would take me seriously about employment? 4. Is there another path or designation I should work towards besides CFA which might be better for my situation? 5. Are my suspicions about CFPs or financial advisers in general correct? I would appreciate any help you all could provide. Thanks! Barry

if you know rich people and can turn that into assets you don’t need to cold call, get a cfa, or a cfp. if you don’t i’m not sure what the cfa is really going ot do for you if you have no experience. an mba would be a much better idea.

and you don’t have to be a “used car salesman” as a financial advisor. that is your choice. be a professional, be educated, and do right by the client and i think you will find that you are treated with the same respect that you would give your doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. it is virtually impossible ot succeed as a financial advisor if you don’t know a lot of rich people though.

Maybe the “used car salesman” reference didn’t properly convey what I meant. I’m not worried about the professionalism of the actual advisement stage of the process for a CFP, but more the tactics that may be required of me to initially attract clientèle.

Are you sure you want to work with equity / security markets, or if you simply want to get into finance, corporate finance within major corporations may be best for you. You can easily break in with an mba or cma there and make your desired salary and enjoy the hours and stability. It’s really not a bad gig for what you described as expectations. To be honest, given your age and background getting into capital markets in a non-sales capacity is going to be essentially impossible. I know, I know, if the guy in The Pursuit of Happiness did it, so can you, but the truth is, the times and the markest have changed as well as the liabilities and methodologies incurred and required to operate. You’re looking at a very steep slope to climb and one that may not be worth the struggle in the end. But keep me posted if you pull it off, that’d be an accomplishment to be proud of.

Barryd Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Maybe the “used car salesman” reference didn’t > properly convey what I meant. I’m not worried > about the professionalism of the actual advisement > stage of the process for a CFP, but more the > tactics that may be required of me to initially > attract clientèle. depends. how much money do you have saved? you wont be able to pay the rent as a financial advisor unless you completely rip people off which is what most new financial advisors do. that is unless you can bring in 50+ mil you first couple of yeras. it’s a hard racket. and cold calling doesn’t work unless you are willing to do it 5 hours a day. btw: the honest sale works far better with high net worth people than the used care sale. if you can only survive by ripping off grandma’s 50K worth of CDs i suggest trying a new profession.

how about leveraging your marketing and advertising experience and apply for jobs in the marketing dept of an investment firm or mutual fund shop? this will get your foot in the door and the ability to network internally. you could end up doing industry research, learn the biz a bit, write a prospectus, interact with institutional clients, etc. once inside, set up some informational interviews with other departments to see what you like. you may be able to get the firm to pay for your MBA as well. it may not give you the traditional exit opps into analysis, but you mentioned you’re not necessarily looking to hit up wall st. the problem wih using the CFA to break into the field in your mid 30s with zero finance experience is that you can’t really tell how receptive firms will be to give you a shot. you’re overqualified for the assistant’s assistant. getting entry level will really depend on a bit of luck, timing, and networking your a$$ off. just being a candidate doesn’t mean jack and passing level 1 probably only gives a slightly higher chance. it’s risky to put all your eggs in that basket when there may be other options. you could probably be a financial advisor tomorrow if you really wanted. those jobs are easy to get b/c the turnover is so high. UBS and Edward Jones are always looking to fill these jobs. gotta ask yourself if you really want to sell for a living and you don’t need the CFA or CFP for that. if you really like the wealth management / planning biz, some of the big mutual fund shops have planners who do not work on commission and don’t sell. Vanguard is one I know for a fact. those jobs are really difficult to come by, however.

i learned years ago - never compete head on (sun tzu) if you’re aiming to get into the industry at the bottom rung of the ladder you will be competing with the 23-yo kids who will work like dogs 15 hours a day for minimum pay + employers will perceived them as much more trainable than a 35yo. Instead use your strengths - you’ve probably got 15 years of experience dealing with people, negotiating, meeting deadlines, managing projects, hiring/leading staff, doing presentations to senior people, making hundreds of business contacts, etc - or whatever. You can’t buy these skills or learn them in a course. But that is what you need to suceed in most jobs. You’ve got it - the 23 yo kids don’t. so use it. concur with xavier ^. get in the game via your existing skills - marketing & advertising. Starting the CFA will demonstrate that you are learning the trade + you will actualy learn stuff = should be a big plus because most marketing/advertising folk at financial firms have no idea of the products & services they are marketing. There are dozens of different directions once inside - you’ll get a better idea by talking to everybody you can once inside. Since your aim is fairly broad and non-specific at this stage - MBA would be better - lots of ways you can put it to good use + networking + recruitment. CFA has very narrow specific application. No harm doing CFA Level 1 tho’. You never know - you might ace it and want to do more. At worst - at least you’ll have a better idea of which bits you like/don’t like… A friend of mine spent 20 years running marketing at a big insurance co. Wanted to get out - so he started helping small/medium planning/broking firms with marketing/advertising ideas. Started on contract basis. That was 5 years ago - now he does work for half a dozan firms and he knocks back work he’s so busy. Figure out your angle - use your contacts, call in favors - then see what turns up… good luck!