CFA for a software guy (10 years of experience)

Do you think it makes any sense to take CFA for a software guy?


Have a pretty cool job as a Product Manager, created several products from scratch, well rounded in several business domains, agile processes, team building, and management, lean startup, etc. Can easily go into lucrative consulting on this market.

Motivation for CFA

  1. Want to get an in-depth understanding of how money stuff works. That’s the main thing and I like this idea as it’s a bigger thing that keeps me interested in CFA for several years already.
  2. CFA is cool.

I know both arguments sound childish but that’s the essential motivation I found upon some reflection.

Background for CFA

Three years ago I had some time and used it to jump on Level 1 but failed due to stupid learning strategy. I was in the 20-50% guys who don’t show up on the exam. I did master the calculator but was severely lacking practice.

This made me even more hungry to try again as now I know how to do it the right way. Now have a proven personal system to learn new stuff. With which for these 2 years I got one professional cert, learned a new language, made few first but real steps in data analysis.

Trade-offs and doubts

This is the hardest part as knowing the hefty scope of CFA I know that a good amount of time should be put to get through.


The opportunity cost is that: I have a good chance to master 1 more language at B2-C1 (year 1) + become a trainer in my industry (year 2) + some more for year 3. Concerning the fact that I have no strategy to apply CFA to obtain clear benefits, it’s crazy to spend so much time on it.

I know that some guys going the opposite direction from finance into software and startups. But there are always should be someone who changes a domain, right?


CFA and finance are mostly terra incognita, I mean I know something but it’s an amateur/hobby level. I know for sure, that when you combine your actual experience with a big project in a lively domain you never knew before, as a result, you’re getting something that you never imagined. Concerning the fact that I have a call to do CFA it will be fun (which is a solid plus) and possibly I can apply my product management skills in finance or on the edge of finance and software.

Should I give it a chance, what do you think?

What’s your strategy for completing the required work experience?

:+1: Another good thing to solve.

The idea is to get Level 1 and find anything investment related that orbiting software. The first that comes to my mind is VC. Most likely part-time, a slight chance to go full-time. Basically, this should be a tipping point to decide if I’m happy with the investment job itself. In turn, Level 1 should signal that I have the commitment to go beyond my current expertise.

Does it make any sense?

Most people would probably advise that a MBA is a more typical path to pursuing the transition you’ve outlined. Sure, there’s value in completing Level 1, but I wouldn’t expect it to provide much career traction. Honestly, if you’re making good money and you’re somewhat interested in the work you’re currently doing - why bother with the switch? Though, if you’re drawn to the mental marathon like a lot of other folks (myself included), the CFA program is probably a fairly cost effective way to get your jollies.

there are a lot of easier ways to learn how to invest than study for the cfa.

watch course 1, 2, and 3

also you need full time experience.

I had 15 years experience in software development. 10 years of that was direct software development and 5 final years was in upper management leading software departments. My final position in software was at a mid size company where I was the VP of Technology leading 18 engineers… company sold and I exited that career, 6 years ago…

Now I’m CFA and CFP financial advisor.

Yes you can do it. I enjoy this line of work very much. life is good.

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Good to be back here after a long hiatus.

I have worked for about 7 years in Tech Industry in various roles (pre and post MBA). In my current stint I am developing risk products (as a product manager) to be consumed by trading houses.

And IMO my role is more exciting than a traditional finance role. My software, lets say computing Monte Carlo VAR for a zero collar swaption strategy, can solve real life problems in seconds. Having knowledge in software/analytics with core finance knowledge is pretty much required in today’s world.

Welcome to the world of FinTech !!

I did a bunch of articles two years ago for cfapubs about charter holders getting into fintech. Found something very interesting. Computer/tech people were gaining the charter for domain expertise before they launched their fintech companies.

The program and curriculum are adapting to this reality as well. Even more programming language prep courses given at local societies.

We may find ourselves at a point where it’s just finance because the tech is so integral and assumed.

Thanks for all these great replies. You guys are fantastic!


“Why bother” is a fair point to which I have some bias. As opportunity costs are high when you consider CFA. The restless nature makes me want to learn more while cold-blooded thinking turns me into looking for undervalued “cheaper” opportunities. The problem is that a search for the best bang for your time could be too “pricey” itself.


Glanced through. The content seems to be very easy to consume. Thanks!


WOW your successful transition sounds utterly cool. Thanks a lot for sharing your story.

Deal_Clincher and KeepingCalm

That’s another sizeable value for CFA and other finance certs. To gain domain expertise to be able to act on the edge of finance and technology. I do trust most in this path.

Going forward programming skills will be part of CFA program I predict. Get in now!

That makes a lot of sense. I took a full university course in Python for Data Analysis. Thanks Norway it costs nothing there, while the quality is finest.

I mean, if you really want to do it, it’d doable and would be good if you want to move into finance. That being said, I’m in Technology and have been in the asset mangement industry my whole nearly 20 year career. I help to run the Front Office Technology department of a pretty major investment management firm, I work all day with traders and portfolio managers, and even then it’s kind of borderline if I really needed to do this or not. Not saying don’t do it, but it’s a big commitment for a fairly vague plan of what it’ll actually do for you.

The other thing, is that you’ll learn a lot, but you’ll forget a lot of it too. If you just learn it to get through the exams without really retaining much, it’ll be obvious the moment you interview with someone. I passed Level 2 in June of this year, and have already forgotten pretty much everything I didn’t already know or use on a regular basis. Just having the CFA will be a good indicator of commitment, but I’d be surprised if it did much for your ‘talking the talk’ ability.