Entry into AM/Equity Research - With an Engineering Ph.D

I am a Researcher working in the field of Computational Sciences in academia. I have a Ph.D in Engineering. 36 yrs old with family.

Recently, I have become highly fascinated with financial markets and I am purely attracted to Asset management/Equit research part of the finance and value investing. I am planning to take some online financial accounting courses first, but now feel that CFA would be best for the knowledge.

I am wondering about the best paths to break into finance. My long term goal is to continue invest my own money and If I am successful or any better, then to manage others money in future.

While, I am truly passionate about finance and investing, I am trying to understand if this means making a career switch, or just continuing in my current field with investing as a passion and hobby.I have the follow dilemmas in front of me and I will greatly appreciate any comments and advice.

  1. To keep working in my current field as a Researcher/Faculty in industry/academia, which would give me a steady stream of income, stability, flexibility, and security and continue my learning through CFA exams (I, II, and III), and mainly investing my own money to develop a track record. (not much passion in current field. more in love with finance).

  2. Or pass CFA Level 1 and/or 2 in a year, quit my current job, and look for entry level Asset management/financial analyst positions even for a substantially lesser salary to get into the field. (not sure about job prospects with PhD Engineering and CFA Level 1/and or 2)

  3. Quit my job now, and get into MS Finance from top school with CFA partner program. This option will be costly, I will lose income, and pay for education. And could be stressful. (costly and stressful with family).

  4. With a computational modeling background and PhD, I may get Quant positions if I try very hard and then once I break into finance, then do CFA, and go back to Equity research/AM. (seems like round about process)

I am inclined more towards option 2, or may be 4. But I really need some expert advice as this would be a major decision involving lot of time and effort.

I will truly appreciate any comments, opinions, and suggestions. Especially from those already in finance, AM, equity research, CFA candidates and charterholders, and any Quants.


not going to lie, your age is getting up there in terms of trying to break in AM or ER. like 007, “it’s a young man’s game”.

#1 works

#2 I would not recommend. DON’T quit your job and think L1 and L2 will get you in

#3 I wouldn’t quit now with nothing and go back full time to school

#4 quant jobs are very difficult, and going from quant to ER is strange and not-helpful at all. totally different methods of investing

Another big problem is your experience is academia, if you were in the industry, you could potentially get into a sector specific ER team maybe.

I’d recommend learn on your own, trade on your own, apply to jobs you like, but definitely do not drop anything you have now.

Thanks itera for your honest comments.

I am more interested in fundamental value investing and yes option 4 seems strange to me too.

I worked in diverse areas -within my current field (computational research-engineering, automotive research) in the past in Industry and also in my current stint in academia. But Yes, sector specific ER might still be tough.

Does writing CFA level 1 makes sense to satisfy my interest in finance and investing. With my current job, I have plenty of time to prepare for CFA level 1 in Dec. Clearing L1 in dec and possibly L2 in june. Plan with option 2 is that I will not quit my job, until I obtain some kind of position in AM after passing L1 and L2. If I dont find anything, it will be option 1 anyway.

how good/slim are the chances of finding an entry level position in AM/ER with a) PhD in engineering + L1 or b) PhD in engineering + L1 and L2. especially if I can show a track record of invesing for my own portfolio.

Thanks and Best regards.

+1 for the first option.

Agree with prior posts. It’s going to be really tough to switch career paths at your stage. It’s possible, but you’ll really need to put in some work to make it happen.

In regards to returning to school, have you considered a part-time program? This could keep you employed while working towards a career that you’re really interested in pursuing.

I would also recommend networking. Start going to local CFA Society events and interact with folks - it’s a great way to make introductions that could lead to something bigger.

Do you have any sector or industry expertise? With CFA Level I or II completed, a PhD, and good industry knowledge you could possibly get an industry specific position (i.e. Automotive ER, Building Products ER, Aerospace & Defense ER, etc). I’ve seen them quite frequently. Some of them look for subject matter experts with PhDs.

I’d recommend #2 if this is something you really want to go after.

Registered for CFA Level 1. Lets see how it goes.

Thanks Minerva and dp013 for all the valuable suggestions.

Network, network, network.

We probably hire at least a couple guys a year that have zero AM experience, but they know their industry like the back of their hand. I have no idea what Computational Sciences is, but if it can be directly tied to an industry you could cover (my guess would be tech), then your lack of actual research experience won’t matter so much.

Modeling stocks can be taught fairly quickly. Industry knowledge has to come from experience. Given the route you’re on, your age can be a plus.

You need to meet the right people first though.

Thanks sweep the leg for the encouragement. Yes, I will make networking one of the top priorities.

I am presently, preparing for the CFA L1, but wondering if doing ONLINE MS Finance in parallel help? or if PhD + CFA L1/L2 will be enough?

I also have an option to do general MBA from my Universtiy(unranked in business but AACB accredited)-tution reimbursed. This option is only to get recruiters attention. I am more interested in CFA/MSF curriculum than general MBA curriculum.

Therefore wondering what is the best way I can increase my chances of entry into AM/ER.

Will CFA L1/L2+ Extensive networking be enough? or Adding an online MSF or MBA is a better way?

Advice from any CFA candidtates, charter holders and career changers will help.


I think you should examine your priorities in life. Is your job in academia that horrible? Would you trade the stability of your current job, the income, and the time away from your family to network and take exams to possibly get a job in equity research?

If yes, then before you spend any money for a masters and start taking time away from the family, start a blog to make your investment ideas and research public. Track your hit and loss rates and develop a paper portfolio and a real portfolio, like Dr. Burry did in The Big Short. If you find yourself enjoying the process of analytically thinking and writing down ideas then you can go to the next step.

With your background, I’m pretty sure you can get a job at a lower tier firm. Look for community banks looking for a fixed income PM, PWM shop looking for an Analyst, etc. After a few years of exp and possibly the CFA under your belt, move on up to a big family office, state pension fund, endownment, etc.

Look forward to reading the blog.

FYI - use this blog as an example - http://www.philosophicaleconomics.com