Passed L3 with no finance experience. Anyone else?

Hi everyone, I passed L3 but have no exposure to(let alone experience) the field of finance. I am about to embark on a major personal PR campaign to get my “foot in the door”. I am wondering whether I am the only one in this state. Is there anybody else who passed L3 with no work ex/ exposure ?? Any help or guidance will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, NewbeeNovice

I wish you all the best and hope things workout for you. I passed L2 … No experience…

very impressive… i’ve sometimes wondered about this. most people think L1 is pretty easy, but even that wouldn’t be easy if you have no background whatsoever.

You are definitely not the only person in this position. Many people take the CFA exams hoping that they will open doors to their first jobs in finance. At the very least, having passed all 3 CFA levels implies that you have some idea of what people do in finance. This is in contrast with the thousands of people who randomly apply for jobs at banks just because they heard that the pay is generous. A technical background, if you have one, will also help immensely. Keep in mind that even in a “normal” job market, passing the CFA exams is not going to guarantee you a job or even an interview, but it will help you stand out from the hordes of other applicants. If I were filtering resumes, it might at least make me spend 2 minutes reading yours instead of 30 seconds.

It wasn’t easy and I never felt confident I’d pass while walking out of the exam hall. But I love the subject matter and I studied hard. I am glad I don’t have to write anymore exams but the real test for me now is getting my foot in the door. Where do I start? I would like to get into a position where I can learn the inner workings of a financial operation. A small bank or perhaps a money market fund. An intership maybe. Anyone else who who made it from here?

Thank you Walrus. That’s encouraging.

Yep, I also didn’t had any experience in the financial industry and passed all 3 levels (3 for 3). Although, due to personal interest I spent a lot of my leisure time with the financial market since some years. I think regarding the learning, you don’t got a disadvantage, as the lack of knowledge might be offset by the lack of biases you have. As I just graduated (non-finance degree) just 1 1/2 years ago, I am looking for a entry-level position. I am not sure for what kind of level you are aiming at. For me I think the CFA helped me to get a foot into the door, as I had some Interviews at top-tier IBs for Front Office positions (Unfortunately, all positions I had interviews for, were finally canceled due to the financial crisis). Now I will start doing an internship with the option to join full-time at a top M&A boutique. I think the CFA added a lot of value to my CV, as I’m graduated from a unknown University. Although my CV is quite clean & nice, I don’t got the spikes, IB’s are usually looking for. So I think the CFA helped me to get the last kick to make the HR-Guys feeling, it might be worth to invite me to an interview to see what’s behind. Other then the CFA, networking at finance conferences for students helped me a lot, as you could tell your story directly. I think, when you meet people directly, they are looking for interesting personalities, while when they receive only your CV, they are just looking at your University, internships, GPA, etc. without trying to see your story behind. BTW, I am from Europe. I am not sure, how different this is for the US. I got the feeling that if you are not graduated from a target university in the US, then you don’t got any chance landing a FO job at a top-tier institution…

too bad there’s no barter system available. I am long experience… need a L3 pass…

I agree to what Walrus said, the CFA won’t guarntee you anything. It would be nice to know a bit more of what you are doing currently, where you want to go (entry level postion?, Front Office, Middle Office, Back Office) and what is your background (University, current/past jobs, GPA, etc.). I guess, if you don’t fullfil most of the requirements the IB’s usually have (let’s say you got a GPA of <3.0 (or UK 2.2), went to unknown university, got uninteresting jobs w/o job progression, etc.) then the CFA won’t help you at all. I believe, passing 2 or 3 level might offset 1 criteria, the IB’s usually looking at and you don’t got.

Also, your age and degree (e.g. engineering might help if you e.g. want to break into trading) would be useful to know. And would you also consider a Tier 3 IB?

I am also in same shoes, Passed CFA level 3 but no experience, What to do now. I am currently working in IT for a major Telecom Company, Has almost 6 year experience in JAVA/ J2EE. To add more to complications I am on Immigrant Visa, Can’t really change my job profile, otherwise my Green card application will be canceled. Thinking of joining MS in financial Engineering at Stevens, Hoboken NJ. This will give me some time and details of financial industry till I get my green card.

prashantupadhyay Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I am currently working > in IT for a major Telecom Company, Has almost 6 > year experience in JAVA/ J2EE. > To add more to complications I am on Immigrant > Visa, Can’t really change my job profile, > otherwise my Green card application will be > canceled. Me too (- L3 - GC application + H1B + J2EE - TelecomIT + FinanceIT)

I am 35 years young with a Baccalaureate in mechanical engineering from a supposedly prestegious university. GPA sucks and is completely irrelevant. I’ve been working as a programmer for the last 12 years. No visible career progression but job more than pays the bills. I’ve wasted enough time doing things that don’t motivate me at all… Now, rather than explain this in a resume (I don’t know how anyone can), I feel networking and word of mouth marketing are the only options to build my career anew.

NewbieNovice and swaptiongamma , Just wanted to see if we can do something with CFA and IT. If you dont mind sharing you email… my email is

“Business Analyst” in financial software is the only job that immediately comes to my mind, but CFA is over qualification for that profile. You could network a lot and transition to business side eventually. I have not done it, but this could be done. Even I have 6 years of experience in Financial software and passed CFA level 2 in June’ 09. Any other ideas for CFA + IT?

That’s helpful information. Given your quantitative/programming background, you might want to consider getting a Master’s in Financial Engineering. These programs typically take 1 year to complete if you attend them full time, or 2 years if it’s a part time program. MFE graduates from good programs start at about $130k per year, but there is usually potential for advancement after that.

prashantupadhyay Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > NewbieNovice and swaptiongamma , Just wanted to > see if we can do something with CFA and IT. > If you dont mind sharing you email… > my email is Wow … me too in the same boat …in Comp Security but not programming…

Mr Walarus. Can you shed some light on you experience. Do you have some experience in recruiting or People management. If I can directly get some info from managers / VPs that heir CFA’s or FA, that would help us a lot. Do you think FE will help. I found the course quite interesting.

Without going into too many details, I’m not a manager. I do look at resumes once in a while, and the floor where I work is close-knit enough that people know most of each others’ backgrounds. I do have a master’s degree that is similar to the MFE, through which I got my current job. I had no experience at the time. Don’t take anything I say as official. Like everything else here, it’s just opinion. To answer your other question, I do think that an MFE will help more than the CFA charter when applying for a new job. Unlike the CFA charter, an MFE is a “real” degree - it is more rigorous and more exclusive. I’ve always viewed the CFA charter as a way to enhance your current job, rather than as a starting point for a finance career. Placement statistics at good MFE programs are also pretty encouraging. For instance, from the UC Berkeley MFE program in 2009, 61/64 graduates were able to find full time employment with an average first year compensation of $127,279. Keep in mind that this was in the middle of a very bad recession. However, an MFE program is more expensive, more time consuming and harder to get into than the CFA program. They also require strong quantitative skills as opposed to the CFA program, that anyone can pass if they study a lot.