Need Help... career dilemma

Hi Guys!

I am coming here here for your help. I’ve lurked around on this forum a while and finally decided to join! Here’s my story and I hope you can help.


I am a 23 year old banker. I work in retail banking specializing in private client coverage. We are a seperate segment within the bank but are right below private banking. Essential I am a Relationship Manager who manages clients from 250k minimum assets to 10mm. It’s a great job. Pays very well, offers great bonus, but it isn’t something I see myself doing forever. I definitely still want to keep growing. I mean, I’m still very young.

My primary job is wealth management within this role. Bringing net new money/deposits to the firm and converting it to AUM. I have about 450 clients now with about 140mm AUM.


I go to a public state university in California. It is a Cal state. I major in finance and will graduate in 2 semesters. I have a 3.3 for now but will probably graduate with a 3.5. In one year I will have my bachelors.

i focused mainly on my career before my education because circumstances required me to do so.


i love my job. Pay is great, people are great. However, I get bored. I don’t get stimulated. I know, I get it… people will say you make great money, why leave? Because if you’re not happy doing it and you’re bored, then you’re not enjoying your career. I want a career I’m proud of!

i am trying to understand whether it is worth it for me to take my CFA, and try to jump into a hedge fund, or IB, or commercial banking/private banking as even an analyst. I have great sales background and numbers, but I lack formal credit training that most analysts get when they intern.

What would you do in my position? I want to get into an exciting career in high finance. An ideal role would be a Relationship Manager for a commercial bank, or private banking officer for a private bank, investment banking, or a portfolio manager for a hedge fund.

i completely understand I have to work for it, and I will! My future depends on it! What would you do? Any advice is helpful! Please and thank you!

Hi Limitless.

The CFA would certainly open the door for a move into a more principal role than relationship manager. An MBA may also be an option if looking to get into IB. However, these still require a lot of networking and tenacity to get it. You have a great opportunity in the fact that you have experience and are still studying - it will put you above any other graduate looking for the same job. You also have access to university networking and career days.

In my opinion - I find the relationship side of banking and wealth management quite a boring field. I barely consider it to be finance (no offence, each to their own). I feel if you want high finance, you need to figure out a way to move into corporate finance. Credit and wealth are alright options as they can be a bridge - however if you really want to earn a spot without going MBA. I would forget the CFA route and maybe do a part-time masters (Assuming you need the finances to not do it full time) at a reputable school. This should open the doors for IB. POst IB experience you will be able to find the sought after “exit” into a PE fund or HF.

If of course, you are set on the asset management/portfolio manager side of finance - then I would recommend the CFA while you do your masters and try land an Equity analyst role. From there you can move into an assistant portfolio manager and eventually a PM. The choice of your masters is very important - do not choose an average half pace school.

You are very young and you have a good canvas to work on - you need to think very carefully about what field of finance you would like to go into and make the move accordingly. It sounds like you do not have 100% understanding on the difference between commercial banking, investment banking, portfolio manager/asset management and hedge funds. Speak to key networks and maybe even do a part-time intership to see which field you may enjoy the most. If you want to stay in wealth management - you need not move anywhere. Probably just study for the financial planning licences

There’s good money being a relationship manager - I have a friend who does it for wells and he wouldn’t know the first damn thing about CAPM even if I tatoo’d it on his forhead. But yet he’s 26 and pulling in just under six figs.

I would trade shoes with him in a heartbeat. Do you really want to waste your life studying in the CFA program? Too many sacrifices that just aren’t worth it in my honest opinion - seriously, I regret going in the program. But, I can’t quit on the 1 yard line because momma aint raise no bish.

Evaluate your bottom line. Ask: Will there be a sufficient enough return on your investment of money and time? Consider financial returns, quality of life, job satisfaction, career opportunities and opportunities for growth. Consider opportunity costs, moderate stress, and financial costs. Then ask: Where do you see yourself in ten years? Write those end points down. If you see multiple paths, plan all of them. Determine what is needed to achieve those end goals and the determine whether or not you want to do those things. Then, if you’re still interested, pick the path you like, and then do those things. Ignore the naysayers.

So you are working and taking college classes on the side or something?

Anyway, it seems like your primary scale is asset raising or customer relations. This is often transferable to hedge fund or other asset management firms. Pro tip - hedge funds’ primary goal is asset accumulation and retention. In terms of revenue, this matters more to them than performance. Saying you can increase AUM by 10% is far better than saying you can increase their performance.

IB is probably a no go, as banks all want analysts with cookie cutter background. The exit opportunities are good, but there are opportunities in other fields too.

Commercial banking or private banking are generally less competitive than IB, hedge fund, and so on. Pay will probably be less too on average.

For you, the obvious weakness is no school brand name and mediocre GPA. The strength is that you can show tangible value creation in a real job, so you should build your networking and application approach around that.

Hey! Thanks for the feedback!

yes I am a full time employee and a full time student. I am managing both and it’s going we’ll so far.

ive came to accepting that IB is probably not going to happen and I’m ok with that. That’s completely fine as their are other opportunities.

a hedge fund sounds ideal for me. My role currently is growing AUM, retaining assets, and generating revenue for the firm. I am exceeding all goals at the firm currently.

after speaking with my management they said here are the opportunities within our firm:

  1. more specialized client base (1mm-15mm) and cover 150 branches rather than 15

  2. market manager (extremely unlikely as someone would have to step down or retire or get promoted)

  3. associate private banker (will take 3-4 years, I feel this might be a waste of time)

  4. financial advisor for pwm (commission based gig, will have a 3 year draw of 150k or so until I get enough AUM under me to exceed the draw)

i am also interested in commercial banking, as I enjoy making deals! I love it, it’s fun and I’ve already completed a ton of multiproperty and multi unit lending referrals while at JPM chase. Issue was, I get nothing out of it as it was a different segment than mine and I don’t have any credit training.

Being a relationship manager is great. I’m 23 and earn 120-150k a year. But at the end of the day it’s retail banking and I need to get on out of retail and into a specialized segment.

This is an argument which I have trouble understanding. You study for 2-3yrs and but reap the benefits for the rest of your career. Yeah there sure are sacrifices that have to be made during those years when you’re studying but that’s life. No pain, no gain.

The question is the ROI. I’m pretty sure learning to program for the same amount of hours as the CFA would be much more beneficial for your career unless you want one of the jobs that absolutely requires CFA for marketing purposes (all our analysts are CFA give us AUM! ) I don’t think the hours required for the CFA is comparable to many other options. But the CFA is good because a lot of people would never sink that many hours into anything else. So better than nothing but far from optimal

You’ll pass it dude. Make level three your *$+@=

Stay with your current role, if you are as good as you described above, you will be able to move to the true private banking division of your firm. While happily employed there, begin your CFA (this is in preparation of your move to private banking). Once you move to Private Banking, you will begin to interact with all those people in what-you-described as “high finance”…begin to network with them and get a true taste of what their jobs is like. I am not looking down on you, when I was 23, I thought those titles, job descriptions are fancy and exciting…now I am interacting with those people all day and begin to think they are just as ____ (fill in the blank) as you.