Question about career options/career progression/salary for my experience/education

I’m trying to decide on a 2nd career. It’s a toss-up between CFA or CFP. I might eventually get an MBA. Law school is out of the question (too long, expensive and it doesn’t excite me) A little bit about me. I’m 41 years old with a BA in History and MA in Criminal Justice. The last 20 years were spent in the military (I left as a Lt. Colonel) where I conducted/supervised criminal investigations and physical security. I have zero finance experience. If I study and pass all 3 parts of the CFA, what are my job options? What’s the salary range? Typical career progression. Also, what will I do as a CFA? How would it differ from financial planning? Thanks again in advance-

Those will take you down two different paths. A financial planner would be more of a netorking/sales role where you advise individuals on how to save for retirement, college, investments to make, etc. Usually a CFP would need a Series 7, 66 and maybe a couple of others liscences. The salary would be a function of how much work you put into it. From my understanding (I did look into this job when I began my career) is that once you establish a client list there is the possibility to make a good living. I have heard of 23 year olds pulling in 100K+. However I am sure there are plenty of 40 years olds still pulling in 50K. A CFA would likely work at a financial institution. There are several paths you can take. Research analyst, trader, PM etc. However you would have to start in a very junior role and work your way up to one of these roles. But you are not limited to just these postions. We have BO managers with the designation as well as client service managers, IT, and compliance officers even. I am not sure if others would agree with this but I think starting with an MBA would be a better idea than pursuing the Charter. An MBA program will help you network and get a better feel for what is out there given that you have Zero finance experience. Just my 2 cents there.

MBA would also give you the option for an internship which may be helpful for you to gauge your interest and also for employers given your unique background. I know quite of few people who used their internship as a true experiment…when else are you going to be able to “test-drive” a career and not have it look funky on your resume. Best case, you love it…worst case, you know you don’t love it but you are still working towards a degree and have an additional year to figure out plan B (marketing, consulting, etc.) My 2cents would be to go that route, then sit for CFA1 in December or June of your 2nd year…you get the benefit of picking more appropriate/synergistic elective classes too. B-schools love military backgrounds from what I can tell. Some will tell you that B-school may be less valuable these days but I think it is still invaluble for career switchers (like yourself)

A good friend of mine, also ex-military, used an MBA to launch into another field. I think it’s an excellent choice for career changers. Of course, the MBA is going to be much more expensive (a concern you listed) than the CFA. Since doing L1 isn’t a huge money commitment, perhaps you should think about registering for and taking L1 in June. You’ll learn pretty quickly if the subject matter is something you enjoy or have a knack for. You could even just get your hands on some study materials and do some reading on your own. If it completely turns you off, you’ve haven’t wasted much time or any money.

Like others have mentioned, B-schools tend to look very positively on business school. Since you don’t have finance related experience, its probably the safest bet.

FIAnalyst Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Like others have mentioned, B-schools tend to look > very positively on business school. > > Since you don’t have finance related experience, > its probably the safest bet. i have found bschools look positively on business school as well

haha…its been a long day. I meant to say on military experience. Oops.

figured as much, just couldn’t let it go though

One key thing about the CFA: you need 4 years of experience in an investment-decision-making position (CFAI has a list of many qualifying functions). So, if you got a job as an analyst today, and passed all 3 Levels, you would still have to wait 4 years before you got the charter. CFA career path is very, very different than the CFP. CFA’s generally work for investment firms and financial institutions and are involved in the investment decision-making process. I don’t know much about the CFP designation, but I do know what financial advisors do. They are more salesmen than anything. They may decide which mutual funds to put money into, but they don’t conduct hard analysis like CFA’s do. You basically talk people into giving you money. Still, you can make a good living at it. Did you think about trying to work for a large corporation? If you were a Lt. Col, you probably have company or even battalion level command experience. Anyway, you have 20 years experience managing a lot of people, machinery and logistical nightmares. I’m sure an outfit like Comcast, Caterpillar or Walmart could use a guy like you. You have a transferable skill set to bring to that type of operation Conversely, you don’t really bring anything to the table for an investment firm. I don’t know how someone with no knowledge of finance could get any type of analyst role, unless they golf with some chairman of the board. If your BA/MA degrees were math and physics, then it might be doable. History and Criminal Justice? Highly Doubtful. If you really want to work in investments, you probably have to get an MBA first. Luckily, you can probably get into a very good program. shows a bunch of military friendly schools. These programs waive the application fees for veterans who have been separated for less than 3 years. Take a GMAT prep course (say, Princeton Review or something). With your work experience, if you get a good (you don’t need great) GMAT, you’ can go d**n near anywhere. Wall Street firms do a lot of recruiting at the top 10 or 15 programs.

Quick note on MBA’s and Military Experience: I got waitlisted at an very good MBA program. I talked to the program head about my application last week. He told me, “You’re military experience is a plus, but in some ways, it’s a negative.”

What did he mean by that? That they like to have 4 former military people but you’re #5?

If you’re thinking about becoming a financial advisor you should check out the major wirehouses (Merrill, Smith Barney, etc.) first. They love ex-military types. These firms will give you the training an independent firm can’t. The majority of wirehouse reps do NOT have their CFP. So you may want to hold off on pursuing your CFP until you’ve talked to some current reps or branch managers. Just my two cents.

Your background also lends itself to due diligence work. I meet with investors from time to time as they conduct their due diligence on our firm. The best guy who sat across the table from me in that role was ex-FBI. He knew how to ask questions to extract the most possible info and verify its accuracy. Example: Him: So, how much time do you spend looking at a stock before you buy? Me: X hours. Him: A few unrelated questions. Me: A few unrelated answers. Him: So how many of the stocks in the portfolio are your responsibility. Me: X stocks. Him: A few unrelated questions. Me: A few unrelated answers. Him: How often does the portfolio turn over? Our IR guy: X times per year. Him: Hmmm…so that means in a given year you look at X stocks. X stocks at X hours apiece sounds like an awful lot of work, how many hours per week do you work? Me: (getting nervous about my first answer) 60 Him: I guess that makes sense. Me: Sighing in relief

Well since people on here are postign their career questions I have one as well. I am currently enrolled in the CFA program (and hopefully will pass L1). I have an engineering and Math Background (PHD) from top tier schools. I am looking to transition into finance and also (possibly) considering business schools. Would it be necessary for me to get an MBA for marketability purposes?

Cont’d… I ask this because many PhD’s are going back to school to get their MBAs. Can someone tell me the advantage(s) of this? Thanks again.

Something that may interest you is Morgan Stanley’s new program to find educated career changers with a successful social network. Given your prior service in the military and making it to the Rank of O-5, I’m sure you’ve made a good network. Take a look at the below link, I read about this in the WSJ a few weeks back…

I guess that you guys either forgot about my post or decided to forget it. That’s okay. Thanks for the help anyway.

The advantage to receiving an mba with that type of background would be to understand how a business is run, or to join a business network of alumnus from that school. A college friend of mine has a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and pursued his MBA in order to move upwards towards the business/management side of the engineering company he works for. I also have colleagues with undergraduate degrees in engineering who have pursued an MBA to move over to towards the financial industry. Given you have advance degrees in mathematics and engineering, you’ve already proved your analytical mind, and could pursue a quant-type position, given the right contacts. If you are pursuing a graduate degree as an entrant to the larger firms, the reccomendations would be to pursue the top-tier schools. I’m sure that entrance into a local CFA society along with your designation would also give you contacts and possible entrance into the financial world as well.

donski212 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I guess that you guys either forgot about my post > or decided to forget it. That’s okay. Thanks for > the help anyway. Your post was probably ignored because it’s unrelated to this thread and because not many of us know about Phd career tracks. I’m sure some large hedge funds would be interested in a math Phd.

Joe: Actually, it is related because it is talking about career changes. I was reading the exchange during the thread and was trying to apply it to my particular situation. My question was geared at the MBA/CFA versus the CFA. True, the Lt.Col was asking from his experience, but I was also trying to look at the advantages/disadvantages from my personal experience/situation.