New to the forum here but I was looking to see if I could get advice related to the CFA. I just recently graduated with my BS in Economics/Finance (took online classes, not sure how much this matters) from an unknown university. For the better part of 6 years I have been working at a small credit union first as a teller, personal banker, and now credit analyst. Over the last couple of months I have realized that working at a credit union is not for me and that instead I’m more interested in the fast-pace environment of “high” finance. Unfortunately for me, I have no relevant experience in that space (no internships) and I know how competitive it is to find work in those industries. It also doesn’t help that I turn 29 in April. So I need some help. For someone in my position, what would be the most ideal steps that I could take that will help me reach my end goal of breaking into high finance (IB/HF/PE/AM/ER/CF/S&T/etc)? For someone in my position, would the CFA plus networking be enough to get me an opportunity for interviews or will a more realistic option be to pursue an MBA from a top university?
You’re a credit analyst, stick with that as there is literally no chance of you making front office with your lack of experience. Ping your cv to a bunch of banks and work your way up. Unfortunately there is no magic wand that gives u the ticket to high finance…
CFA may or may not help. An MBA from a top 5 will probably help, but I doubt you’d get into that given you’ve only just graduated from your degree…
Thanks for your reply. I’m not sure I have I have 0% chance to make it to the front-office but I do acknowledge that I have a huge uphill battle. With respect to being a credit analyst and working my way up, I think you have to realize there isn’t much room to move at a credit union and even if there was, making a career out of working at a credit union is not what I want to do (I want more).
Regarding an MBA, is it really a hinderance having just graduated? I thought they were sticklers about work experience and the like?
MBA from a top university is your best bet…but it’s going to be very difficult with a recent undergrad from an unknown online university. What was your GPA? If you had a 4.0 and have an interesting story (like had to work as a teller because family/grew up in poverty and now making it, etc.) and you kill the GMAT (750+) then you might have a shot. If your backstory is i partied too much and didnt get serious until later…well that won’t fly. CFA may help but may only marginally improve your prospects. HF/PE no way probably ever…IB maybe with top 10 MBA…ER maybe with CFA if you make some money on your own and build a track record for a few years first.
Edit: Also, wtf is “high” finance? like closing deals while smoking weed? I dont know anybody that calls anything high finance.
LOL @ the “high” finance comment. I call it "high: finance because I don’t know how to refer to IB/PE/HF/AM/ER/CF/S&T/etc in one word. I realize these are different industries and each industry has its own name but I don’t know which industry is more interesting to me therefore I refer to it as high finance. What would be an alternative?
For clarification, I took classes online but the university actually physically exists and has so for some time now. With respect to my background, the reason why I am older and just recently graduated is because when I turned 22 I moved to Florida from my parents home in Massachusetts. I’ve spent that last 6 or so years of my life working full time and for teh last 3 years I’ve worked full time and attended university full time. I’m by no means a slacker I just didn’t take the traditional high school --> university route. In your early 20’s you aren’t very sure of what you want our of life and I’m no different.
That being said, thanks for your advice and HALA MADRID!!!
Unfortunately for you the roles you listed are some of the most coveted in the industry and attract interest from a new crop of kids graduating from tops schools with connections and top grades/internships to match. It is really unlikely you will be able to get any sort of PE/HF/IB job at this point. They can easily pull any one of thousands of kids from ivy league schools dying to get in that are 22 and more than willing to slave away 80 hour weeks and be on call when needed for them. You will see kids on here and other places in second year of undergrad at like 19 years old talking about prepping to get internships in IB/ER so unfortunately this industry tends to be very structured. That said there are plenty of people who have made it in from alternative paths, just know there is a strong probability you wont get where you want.
There is a possibility to get into those roles but its very slim and unfortunately the most common way in is exactly the opposite of what you did. Its the traditional HS to college (ivy leage specifically) into IB. You can transfer as a credit analyst to another larger bank while you take the CFA, and try and leverage that into a role in AM/ER possibly.
There is a difference between goals & unrealistic expectations. If you have a goal, you know its a long shot, and you fall short but have a back up plan for career progression all is fine. If you have this goal and have no backup plans and dont make it you can be one of the many people who come on here to complain the CFA is a joke and didnt do anything for you.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. Your point about having a back-up plan is well taken and it is something I honestly haven’t given much thought to over the last couple of weeks as I have been scouring the internet trying to find answers to these questions. Now that you brought that up and I’m thinking about how I should be thinking about a back up plan; my initial impression is that your point about trasferring as a credit analyst to a larger bank while also taking my CFA and then leveraging that into a role in one of those industries might be the wisest and more realistic option for me. I’m thinking BoA (lateral move to BoAML) or Chase (lateral move to JPMorgan).
Any thoughts on these recent grad programmes? Besides HSBC, I believe JPM offers one as well.
CFA will be great if you want to go into equity research or portfolio management. If by “high” finance you mean more on the corporate finance side of things you can get a certification from the CFI, and like you said do as much networking as possible. Manage your own portfoio, even if it’s just a few stocks - this will give you lots to talk about when networking. Also, work on your financial modeling skills from places like CFI mentioned above or BIWS. People in finance tend to respect hard working keeners, so if you show passion and educate yourself I’m sure you will make it into “high” finance somehow.
There are a lot of good and well paying positions for credit analysts at banks and asset managers out there. While it will be very different to what you’re doing, I imagine this may be your best bet as at least your CV will pass a cursory glance/bot.
I should warn you that the CFA it is a massive undertaking and is unlikely to help you unless you go into asset management. I would advise against doing it unless you get a job within the asset management industry. It just takes up too much time and the majorioty of people who start never finish. Maybe a smaller accounting qualification and/or the IMC may be better initially.
You have practically no chance of making it directly into a front office role. Sorry - it’s probably better to just accept this.
Instead, focus on moving from your current position to an incrementally better position. Think about operations at a larger bank, or something similar to that. Over time, perhaps you can advance to different functions through other incremental moves.
The best anyone can do is just consider their current situation and make any possible improvement from there.
Thanks for you reply. I’m still in the process of learning as much as possible about the different roles within high finance but I haven’t yet looked too deeply into corporate finance. I’m sure it is also an interesting field. In terms of financial modeling I’m glad you suggested BIWS because I have already started looking into courses offered through them and I’m currently taking their “Excellence in Excel” course. I’ve thought about trying to manage my own portfolio but while stock and the stock market really interest me (probably one of the biggest reasons for why I want to move into high finance) I just don’t know too much portfolio management theory (PMT) and sort of assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it correctly until I have learned some PMT. I will reconsider that, thanks.
Thanks for the reply. I agree the CFA is a massive undertaking and its reach (in terms of what jobs look more highly upon a CFA) is limited which is why I’m leaning more towards the conclusion that an MBA from a top school might make the most impact (but then again your dishing out 150K). AM sounds very interesting though. I know it has to do with investing and investing/trading is something I’ve dabbled and really wish to know learn more about.
High finance is just the word people use when theyre the ones looking in. People who are already in call it finance and consider everything outside of that to be non-finance. Probably should avoid using that term too much.
not going to tell you anything you don’t already know but like mattmanias said - move to a better job as soon as possible and take the CFA after if necessary. I don’t think the PE/IB/HF is a possibility at this point but there are still decent AM jobs out there. Get realistic about your career and set challenging but obtainable goals. You might be happy where you end up at the end of the day.
And another protip for free - Stop saying things like “I don’t know PMT”, or “I would enjoy learning about” - you’re 29, go out and pick up a book or use google and just LEARN it. That sort of indecisiveness and lack of action is NOT what an employer/networking contact wants to see. You know you have a huge uphill battle, show some INITATIVE.
I dont mean to be a d*ck but this kind of sh*t is stuff that will get you axed immediately. You’re thinkg “would’ve” as in “would have”…not “would of”. I know it’s an internet forum, but it looked like you were trying to be grammatically correct in all of your posts.
Thanks for the advice man, greatly appreciated. I’ve started reading over some old textbooks on CF and Investments to LEARN it. I agree, at this point indecisiveness and lack of action is NOT marketable.
Yes, I am trying to be grammatically correct in all my posts but being that this is just a forum I’m not really proof reading my posts to the degree I would if I was writing something for work. Either way its good to know that someone can get fired over a small gramatical error (harsh but good to know).
I’m Ramos…but it’s not that you will get fired…a person reviewing your resume or email and seeing something not grammatically correct will think one or both of these things: you’re dumb and/or you don’t give a sh*t.