In my previous post a few days ago, I gave a description of myself (software industry, no business background, current consultant) and said I would outline the process I’ve used to go 3 for 3. Most of my processes are simply best practices, not rocket science. You’ll see that I changed things slightly for the different tests and that I also studied pretty hard. Coming from a different industry, I felt like I really needed to study hard in order to pass. Also, I really don’t think there are any shortcuts due to the volume of material. The Cliff’s Notes version is: I used Schweser exclusively, spent 1 hour per every 10 Schweser pages on average (I believe this avg’ed ~5-10 hrs/week), made my own note cards, finished all material 4-5 weeks before the test, reviewed and took 4-5 sample tests before the exam. Here’s the gory detail: CFA Books – I started studying 5 months before each test. I purchased the CFA curriculum books, but only actually opened those 2 or 3 times cumulatively. I had initially started reading them from the start, starting with Ethics, but I didn’t feel I could get through all of them in 3-4 months so I abandoned that plan and used Schweser exclusively. Repeat—I used Schweser exclusively to pass all 3 tests. (One exception is that I did read the complete Ethics section in the CFA curriculum about 5 days before each exam and strongly recommend doing that. Other than that I looked up a few definitions from time to time.) Most of the CFA books have never been opened. I simply used them as a safety net in case I didn’t understand something, and I would recommend everyone do that as well. Schweser and Prep Course - I used the Schweser study guides exclusively. I signed up for a CFA prep course for both L1 and L2, offered via my local CFA org and taught through a local university. The course met every Saturday for 2 to 3 hours and used the Schweser material as the curriculum. The best thing about the course was that it ensured I stayed on track in my studies. For L1 and L2 I read the material the week following the class, due to me being overloaded at work and not being able to catch up. It was obviously not as productive as it could have been because I was not prepared with questions for the class. For L3 I took the Schweser weekly online course and I made sure I read the material ahead of time before the weekly course. I read every page of every chapter of every Schweser book. I did every problem and I read every answer to every problem. For the questions I missed, I went back and made sure I understood the question and answer correctly. This means that, at one time or another, I understood every Schweser question. That’s not saying I could remember them all, but when you are stuck on a question on the actual exam and you’re not sure between a few answers, you can better trust your gut because at one time you knew the answer. Study time - On average it took me 1 hour to go through 10 pages of Schweser reading material and questions/answers. For example, if a chapter had 75 pages of Schweser readings and questions/answers, I knew I would spend about 7.5 hours of study time for that chapter. Note cards - I did not use any note cards for L1. I realized towards the end of L2 that I needed note cards due to the volume of material. With only about 2 weeks left I started making my own note cards, which meant I did not complete all of them. For L3 I made my own note cards as I went along and ended up with a pretty big stack. I think it’s important to make your own note cards in your own words and in your own handwriting, as I think its easier to remember things if you’ve actually wrote it out. Month Before Test - I finished all of the material about 4 to 5 weeks before the exam. I then went back and, for each section (i.e. Corporate Finance), I re-read my highlights for the chapters that made up that section, re-took about 25% of the Schweser end of chapter questions, and took that section of a sample test. I then went through it question by question to make sure I knew the answers. I then went on to the next section and did the same thing. After completing the first sample test in this way, I took 2 additional tests, completing and then grading the morning and afternoon sections separately (I just didn’t have 6 contiguous hours in a day to take a complete test). I took the last week before the test off of work and basically took and graded 2 more tests. I bought extra Schweser tests and did a sample test from the CFA site. That’s it—again, not rocket science, but just a good amount of studying and following a process. Conclusion - I passed all 3 tests on my first try over an 18 month period. I’m extremely happy I put the time in and now have this behind me. I’ll spend the next 6-12 months at my current software firm due to stock options vesting and use the time to investigate options in the financial industry. Would I do it again? My initial investigation in moving into the financial field has been a bit frustrating. Except for Quant, a tech background or CSci plus the CFA designation gets a lot of strange stares and requires explanation. I would be interested in stories of succesful transitions from software/tech to finance–maybe I am missingn something. However, I did enjoy the CFA material. For me to move into this field will require networking and explaining my background and what I bring to the table. I would love to get into private equity with a tech focus, possibly a hedge fund, or doing strategic finanical and business analysis and consulting. I hope this was helpful and good luck to all of you. Feel free to ask me any questions. -James_mk
cool - congrats James
thanks for the advice…and congrats on completing the exams 3 for 3!!! I hope something works out for you soon.
james_mk Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > > Would I do it again? My initial investigation in > moving into the financial field has been a bit > frustrating. Except for Quant, a tech background > or CSci plus the CFA designation gets a lot of > strange stares and requires explanation. I would > be interested in stories of succesful transitions > from software/tech to finance–maybe I am missingn > something. However, I did enjoy the CFA material. > For me to move into this field will require > networking and explaining my background and what I > bring to the table. I would love to get into > private equity with a tech focus, possibly a hedge > fund, or doing strategic finanical and business > analysis and consulting. I hope this was helpful > and good luck to all of you. Feel free to ask me > any questions. > -James_mk How many interveiws have you got since you passed L3?
" I would love to get into private equity with a tech focus, possibly a hedge fund, or doing strategic financial and business analysis and consulting. " IMO, I think you need to be more specific. These are all investment related but each require unique skills and interest. PE and hedge fund both defined as AI, are two completely animals. “strategic financial and business analysis and consulting” could be anything from corporate IB to consultant firm such as Accenture. I think you need to figure out what exactly you want to do in the investment field, and concentrate on applying to these specific jobs. It will take time, especially in this market, and it may seem counter-intuitive but narrow your search and be more specific you make get more hits. Unfortunately, 3for3 with no experience is not going to cut it in this job market, make contacts, keep plugging, and good luck.
james_mk, Congrats on 3 for 3. I know how it feels as I just passed Level III as well. As for for transition into finance, passing all the exams with no experience doesn’t really help. I know this as I am a computer engineer that’s in the process of transitioning into finance as well. I think I just got my first break as I just accepted a foreign exchange trader position(my long term goal is to be in investment management) Before this offer, I was a financial analyst at a software company that I took as my first “finance” job to get some excel and financial analysis experience. While I worked there for 1 year I studied for my level III and networked a lot thru friends and co-workers. I actually got my current offer from a contact that I received from the finance controller(my direct supervisor) who thought I did good work and gave me an outstanding reference. She also introduced me to a couple of portoflio managers that I keep regularly contact with (one of them have recently indicated to me that he might be expanding his team that I’m keeping my finger cross for). Conclusion: keep on doing good work at your current job, network a lot and good luck to you! With no experience and no ivy league background, it is still possible but you got to believe in it and put in the work.
Thanks for the comments and feedback. To address some of the posts above: * I should add that I’m not really an IT person–my first post describes my background as (now) a senior product/marketing manager. I have lots of experience developing and bringing software and internet products and services to market, developing and executing product plans, etc. * A couple people above said “no financial experience plus a CFA won’t cut it”. That is what I found when I spent some time looking into jobs about 6 months ago. It’s simply too unconventional. What I believe is true however is that having no financial experience plus an MBA from an elite university *will* cut it. Possibly at entry level positions, but it will open more doors. So, to those from software backgrounds who ask me if I would do it again, I would have to say I would probably get an MBA from an elite university instead of the CFA. I would be interested in hearing about other peoples’ experiences, however. * Thanks for your comments Disciple. I do believe that a transition plan could be made to work at a large tech firm as an analyst to get hands on modeling/analysis exeriece as a subject matter expert and then move on from there as you did. Congrats on that. * I haven’t tried to get any interviews since I passed Level 3. I’m going to spend 6-12 months in my current position, network, do more investigation, and narrow down more what I want to do as MFE said above. I agree with your assessment that the positions above are all over the board. I’m really interested in hearing how people from outside of the industry, particularly tech, have moved into analyst, trader, or portfolio management positions. -James
if you have no work exp, MBA is better. more traditional route. just b/c you passed three tests, well ya, you are clearly smart, but it doesnt mean you are ready to manage $ with guys twice your age. wall street has a code. follow the code. only outliers break the code, and those are david einhorns of the world ,etc…very rare. if you have 1-2 yrs, you can do CFA, bypass MBA, and use your network. if you have ZERO network, or ZERO networking skills, neither the MBA combined with CFA will help. b/c people dont get jobs simply based on those credentials. the most important thing is networtking and having “some” experience. It is also luck and timing.
You can’t even get an Operations position with passing 3 exams? Also, keep in mind the job market is tough for finance now. Many organizations have been laying off people. Hedge funds too. I know a friend that was laid off from a operations job.
You can’t even get an Operations position with passing 3 exams? That’s ludicrous. I’ve heard even monkeys have been hired into BO roles —and do quite well.
daj224 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > if you have no work exp, MBA is better. more > traditional route. just b/c you passed three > tests, well ya, you are clearly smart, but it > doesnt mean you are ready to manage $ with guys > twice your age. wall street has a code. follow the > code. only outliers break the code, and those are > david einhorns of the world ,etc…very rare. > > if you have 1-2 yrs, you can do CFA, bypass MBA, > and use your network. > > if you have ZERO network, or ZERO networking > skills, neither the MBA combined with CFA will > help. b/c people dont get jobs simply based on > those credentials. the most important thing is > networtking and having “some” experience. > It is also luck and timing. hey whats this user ignored icon i see??? is this new? code!!! wall street code? lmao
yes he is new and now everybody knows him as one of those guys…
james: re PE… You can get in with just your current background and the CFA charter, as long as you’ve got a unique value proposition. I’m certainly not the expert, but it may be worth trying with the smaller firms that operate in a niche sub-section of PE. There is undeniable value in a team with varied backgrounds… and diligent PE managers know this. Some firms love to tout the number of Harvard MBAs they have, but they’re probably not for you. It may be heresy on this forum, but PE is so much more than what you’ll ever learn studying the CFA curriculum or for an MBA. In a single day you’ll be a salesman, a strategic consultant, a financial analyst, a human resource adviser, a lawyer, an insurance broker, a tax accountant, and of course an entrepreneur. Consider each of these roles and use your software background to build your value proposition in a way that outmatches the typical run-of-the-mill MBA. Put more effort into your interviews than you put into your entire CFA campaign. Talk about proactive deal origination, thorough commercial due diligence, continuous improvement within investee companies, various deal structures, etc. Do your homework and talk to people in PE first. Contact PE firms, don’t just wait for adverts. All you need to do is land an interview and impress their socks off. You certainly don’t need a CFA, MBA or whatever else to do that. Bonne chance!
Mr. T - hey, thanks for the advice–I believe I will follow it. I do think I have a very well rounded and valuable background and set of skills. I’ve done a fair amount of selling, launched enterprise and consumer products, written public marketing materials, done a fair amount of public speaking, and have been (and am) an entrepreneur. I know it will take a large amount of networking and extra work explaining my value add, but I’m prepared to do it. Thanks again, -JIm