Moving from public finance i-banking to asset management

Hey guys,

I’ve been on this site for a while and you guys have been extremely helpful while studying for the cfa exams but this is my first time posting here. I am currently an associate for a boutique investment banking firm specializing in public finance and recently I’ve become interested in moving into asset management focusing on municipal bonds with a goal of eventually becoming a portfolio manager. From what I’ve seen it appears that a lot of portfolio managers start out on the buy-side as a junior portfolio manager or an investment analyst. I know that I can’t just jump right into a portfolio manager position from investment banking so I am looking into roles within fixed income research as a way to strengthen my credit analysis skills.

I’ve been applying mainly to credit research jobs, however, I haven’t had much luck in obtaining any interviews. I am wondering if my experience within public finance is too narrow as I currently only work with issuers located in NY from the County level and down. I’ve recently been offered a position with another investment banking firm that can give me a broader experience with other municipal issuers, like utilities, transportation, and big state agencies and I will cover a much larger geographic area but I am a bit hesitant to accept this position because this will also result in much longer hours and will impact my ability to study well for the cfa exam. Do you guys think it would be better for me to accept this job and work in investment banking for another two years before looking again for fixed income research positions or should I stay at my current firm and continue with my search and networking? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Wait a minute. you want to turn down a good job offer because of longer hours and you can’t study for the CFA?

heck no. take the job.

I’m continually amazed at how much value people assign to passing the CFA exams.

Well I should probably elaborate on the job offer a little bit. The longer hours are a result of my commute changing from a 15 minute drive from my house to a train and subway commute that would be about 2 hours each way. The client base is actually smaller compared to my current firm, however, they are much bigger issuers and entities, so I would go from doing 75 deals a year to 20 or 30. I would normally jump at an opportunity like this but this company I have an offer from doesn’t serve as the lead or senior bookrunning manager on any of the deals they are hired to participate in, rather they are consistenly assigned a co-manager spot because their sales force doesn’t have the capabilities to fully support a large ($50mm plus) issuance. Also, when a firm serves as a co-manager they normally don’t have much input as to how the deal should be structured, what the rates should be set at, what parameters should be implemented, etc. They mainly follow the lead of the senior bookrunning manager.

In my current role I serve as an advisor to the municipalities issuing debt and I determine the structure of these financings and am involved in a quanitative role. My concern is that if I move to this firm I may actually be doing less compared to my present job but I could be working on much more elaborate deals. So should I take this job so I can eventually add to my resume that I’ve worked with some of the biggest issuers in the country? Or should I continue to search for research positions that could help me land a portfolio manager gig later on in my career? I really do not plan on doing investment banking for my whole career. Also, the pay isn’t much different between my current job and the offer I have.

So the $64,000 question is this: do I accept a job offer that can give me exposure to bigger issuers through a reduced role or should I reject the offer, stay at my current firm and continue to search and apply for credit research positions?

CFA is a good thing, but don’t turn down the experience that ultimately matters more. I believe you will be able to find a way to do the CFA work if you take the job, but in this environment, the experience is going to help you more than the exams. Many exam takers would be happy to trade places with you in a heartbeat if they could.

@ thombren

But won’t “…and continue with my search and networking?..” will also “… impact my ability to study well for the cfa exam” and that too with added stress as the time goes by ?? Searching and then applying, preparing and attending the interviews for new jobs too take up significant time and attention with more uncertainty than the option available to you. Networking efforts can continue either way.

Remember, many among your peer group are not only preparing for L2 with much less time availability but also passing the exam (which does not imply L2 is easier or anything like that but that you will have to plan and manage your time better in that case). Passing CFA surely has much more career benefit with better experience, so the choice is clear.

You guys make some good points. But are skills learned as an investment banker transferable to a role in asset management? If anyone here has made the switch from investment banking to asset management, your input would be greatly appreciated!


U should concentrate on the cfa sir don’t give up

all the best