IT to Financial Analyst - CFA the correct route?

Hi All,

I’m currently working in a large financial technology broker as a UNIX Engineer. I’ve been here almost 2 years and altogther have about 6 years UNIX engineering experience. I’ve a Computer Science and Software Engineering degree (2.1).

I’m enjoying the finance industry at the moment, even though it is taking a battering we are moving in to HFT territory so there’s no shortage of work at the moment. For the future I am thinking of moving in to an analyst role specializing in tech industry since that’s what I enjoy the most. So at the moment I have been reading quite a few books, websites, papers trying to get the finance/economics lingo in to my head. I work with our back/middle office finance staff so I have an idea of their work aswell. We have a research division that is made up of analysts looking in to energy, tech, medical etc and that is something I would like to get into eventually. Would the CFA point me in the right direction? I’ve been looking at various masters in finance but at the moment they are out of my price range. The CFA looks good but very tough. I don’t know if the CFA or masters would be better for me in the long run? I would have to do the masters parttime/distance learning anyway so we’re looking at a minimum of 2 years. Aside from this in the University of London they have a Graduate Diploma in Finance which is a 1/2 year diploma for people coming from a non financial background who want to try for a finance masters in the future. But the only thing with that is I could be wasting my time with a very basic course.

With my background would there be a chance I could transfer in to the analyst role with a relevent qualification? I do have a keen interest in technology and always keep up with the news so I am more clued in than others. Would the CFA be a good idea?

Sorry if this post is a bit all over the place, any help much appreciated :slight_smile:


If you follow tech, then research in that sector or maybe even the consumer sector may be a fit. The CFA is highly prized in equity research and asset mgmt, so if research is your target, it will definitely help.

Ok, I agree that the tech background will help once you have a job as analyst. The problem is that once you have worked as an software engineer for a while, people have difficulty seeing you in another role. Consequently, they will be less likely to hire you for research positions. The CFA might help a bit, but I’m not sure how much it will help your chances statistically. Technology + CFA is a pretty common combination nowadays. Your chances will probably be better if you show that you’re putting your balls on the line - i.e. enroll in an expensive and prestigious full time academic program. But then again, you will pay a lot of tuition and lose your full time income. So maybe the best strategy for now would be to be conservative in the short term (keep your job and do CFA). If that fails, then consider more drastic action.

Hey guys, Thanks for the replies. I agree that a full time academic program would be better but at the moment it’s not a good option for me. I would prefer to stay in my current job and work on it part time in case it does not work out. I didn’t realise that Tech and CFA is quite common. I guess I could enroll in the CFA, attempt for my Level 1 (Dec 2012) and ask my employer if I would be eligible for a transfer. Even if I don’t have the basic knowledge in finance I should be OK attempting it right? Like 10 or so months of study should be plenty to get up to scratch right?

One of the drawbacks to going the CFA route with a tech background is that it’s going to take a while to get the CFA designation. You’ll need to pass the exams and get the experience. Depending on when you land your first job in the industry, it could take 4-6 years or more to get the designation. You could have a masters degree in 1-2 years.

I understand what you are saying. What are the chances of moving into that position (in a junior role) after Level 1 for example? Would that be normal or would I have to wait until I complete Level 3? I understand about needing the experience to get the designation, that would not worry me aslong as I would be working in that role as I do the CFA.

I think it’s a good idea to do the CFA in your situation. If you can get up to Level 2, it would also show potential employers your commitment to become a financial analyst. Once you’re a candidate, you might want to attend some local CFA society events or lectures to network, that might enhance your chances as well.

Thanks string. I will look more closely in to the CFA now and see if it is do able. Thanks all for your advice.

Absolutely. All you really need to do is pass Level I and then you should be able to make the switch no problem

Just bouncing back to this. If I was looking for a course which would cover a large spectrum of the Finance world would the CFA cover that or would a MSC in Finance/Investment/Banking/Economics suit better? I would like to get a wide range of information from whatever course I choose.