How old were you when you first broke into finance?

How old were you and what certifications and experience did you have?

I almost got lucky, I am 22 with no experience and I was interviewed for a Corporate Finance Analyst position but they eventually found a better candidate. How old were you when you actually broke into the industry and what job did you have?

21, equity research associate, no certifications, junior year internship at leading investment management firm, and lots of student loans to pay off

Turning 28 soon. 2 years experience as a bank regulator and 2 years experience as a consultant at a big 4 accounting firm.

Still haven’t broken in. Interviewed for various roles ranging from internal audit, compliance and treasury.

Did a couple internships while in college, but went non-finance directly out of school for a few years. I was 26 when I really got going.

Well… my post-graduation job offer came from a college internship. Nowadays, it seems that this is the “easy”, or at least fairly common way to get a job early in your career.

I’m not sure that I would characterize this as having “broken into” the field. To accept a “broken in” state, we would have to define what is “in” and what is not. We would also have to assume a somewhat permanent state of being in FO-ish finance; that is, being “in” is a one way transition. In reality, everything is subject to change. While I believe the that 2008 career volatility has subsided, there is still a substantial risk of losing any particular finance job. If you are a $500k person, there is no guarantee that you will get a similar job again.

I suppose it’s reasonable to ask when someone got the first job that was satisfactory given their personal standards. Or even, when did they first achieve certain compensation categories. Questions about when you “made it” in some finance industry always seem nebulous to me.

Totally agree – was just having a very similar conversation with a buddy from HBS who has been working in sell-side equity research for the last couple years, and both by nature of the current economy and also circumstance (he’s switched teams a couple times because his lead analyst got sacked), he’s basically making pretty much the same as he did before he got his MBA. Yet given the state of the overall finance industry, nobody in the field is complaining and people seem delighted just to have a job. It’s a totally different world in finance these days, especially in many sell-side functions and I would guess to some extent on the buy side as well. Timing is everything.

For what it’s worth I started working in 2004-2005 and part of me thought that things would be much better after I graduated from business school (I left for school in 2010 and couldn’t imagine things getting much worse than they were). Well I don’t think things have become horribly worse but the overall hiring prospects in the industry certainly haven’t improved much, if at all.

right out of undergrad. still in finance now at 29 with CFA, MBA

I stole $20 from my mom when I was 9, does that count? I’m gunning for Jon Corzine’s job.

pssst…that’s nothing. i was doing hard money loans in 1st grade.

I stole $64 dollars from my sisters’ babysitting stashes over the course of a couple weeks when I was about 4 or 5, and I hid it in the radiator in my bedroom.

I ended up getting caught after bragging about it to a neighborhood friend, who ratted me out.

I was born for this industry

He probably had a crush on your sister.

Haven’t broken in yet. Currently working in accounting in Big 4 since I couldn’t get a job I wanted in finance or banking. Nobody would sponsor a work visa for me given the awful job market and ready supply of US applicants, and I couldn’t get a desirable job in Canada due to the lack of finance jobs, and again bad finance job market.

Going to hang out here for a year or 2 and get my credentials, then hopefully be able to move into a better job.

I agree with previous comments about having to define what is “in”. For example, I’m technically in the finance industry, but I feel far from having “broken in”…at least to where I’d like to be. I’m a broker for a discount broker-dealer. I first got my securities licenses at 22 and now my CFA at 26. But as far as breaking in…i’d say my current role might as well be working at a T-mobile retailer selling cell phones compared to what I’m really looking to do…

took me until i was 28 to get a buy side job, still going through CFA program at the time. it took me a while after college to differentiate my ass from my elbow, so i figure i started about 3 years behind a normal schedule for a front office path on the buy side.

How are we defining “breaking into finance”? Seems like everyone probably has a different idea about this.

finance = FO @ SS or BS

^if this is the criteria, i would guess only a handful of people would be able to answer the question.

Sorry if this seems like a daft question, but I have to ask why it is that if the reputation of the CFA charter is the “gold standard” in finance, why does it seem like so many people in finance don’t have the charter, yet so many people outside of mainstream finance do? My question is a bit influenced by my participation at a recent NYSSA social hour, where it seemed like there were a bunch of charterholders but there was nobody else in a traditional sell-side or buy-side role other than a couple of people there (out of the 20 or so that I met).

People already in the industry don’t need it.

Come on Numi, your skills are better than that. THe answer is obvious isn’t it?

people who have “made it” in finance, are in a good spot career-wise, have a much less likely chance of attending a NYSSA social event.

One the flip side, everyone trying to “make it”, people from either in back office or non-investment/revenue-generating believe that “networking” at these events is an awesome way to get in, and so these events always end up like this.

Pick up lists of PM’s and I would bet easily the proportion is probably around 70% have the charter (which keeps going up btw)