Second career - Unusual situation [Canada]

Happy Monday,

To make a long story short, I’ve been furloughed from my full-time career as a pilot. It’ll likely be 2-3 years before being recalled. In the meantime, I’m hoping to beef up my Plan B in finance.

My undergraduate degree is in aeronautical science, but I did take many accounting, business, finance, and economics courses. The hope is to leverage these toward an entry-level financial advisor position by writing the CSC/CPH exams. I’d like to aim for companies like TD/RBC/Desjardins. In this position, I’d also aspire begin studying/working toward the CFA designation. Once back in my normal pilot career, I’d like to begin working toward an MFE on the side (given the job’s relatively flexible schedule). The goal would be to make myself sufficiently marketable in the future to switch careers, if another mass layoff occurs or if I lose my aviation medical.

Firstly, I want to confirm a financial advisor position at a bank would count toward the CFA work experience requirements? Secondly, I wanted to get some input on the practicality of all this. Would a plan of this nature be at all beneficial in making me more marketable down the road, or am I totally out to lunch?

Thank you for your time!

To be blunt, you’re probably “out to lunch” if you think a MFE would make you marketable for a career change during a period of mass layoffs. The experience as a bank FA would not help you there, but the networking might.

Anything counts towards CFA experience just include buzzwords tied to the material.


You don’t need the CFA at all if you’re going to be an FA at Wells Fargo, JPM, BofA. Honestly the clients you’ll meet won’t know or care what it’s about, and if you do have a client that wants a portfolio designed by a CFA then all you have to do is tell them the portfolio construction was outsourced to someone with a CFA (aka me. Ps: nice to meet you) - just like all your portfolios are anyways. Successful FA’s spend their time managing relationships and growing business, NOT building portfolios.

@SportBiker, thanks for the input! I’d rather hear it straight up.

Might it be best to wait if I were laid off again/lost my medical down the road? At that point, I could do an MFE to re-enter the financial world and network, while waiting for the economy to turn around? Would having all my CFA exams written benefit me too? Thanks!

@Black_Swan, that was the sense I was getting from this forum too. I guess the experience in that position would be useful then. Thanks for the input.

@CEO10K-DAY, thanks for the advice. I guess to clarify, the goal would be to enter an analyst position down the road, if required. However, in the meantime I could use the FA position to build work experience toward the CFA. It’d also offer some decent income in the meantime, while I’m waiting to be recalled by my full-time career.

I’ll give you my comments, as I’m in Canada and work as an Advisor. First, sorry to hear about the furlough - that’s gotta be tough.

Many of the bank branches are looking to hire for entry level FA for the bank branches (TD, Scotia). You would need to have the CSC, CPH and then the WME exam. Although the pay is going to be quite low just starting out for the first few years as you gain more experience and add to your credentials.
RBC wants their Financial Planners (or Investment Retirement Planners) who work in the branch to hold either the CFP or PFP designations, which require a combination of the CSI courses and 3 years work experience. The benefit of the FP role is that you are paid a salary plus bonus. The IRP role at RBC is straight commission only but you get a lot of referrals from the bank branch. The earning potential of the IRP role is higher than the salaried FP role, but the income risk is higher and more variable as well.

The CFA would be helpful if you were working in the independent channel vs in the bank branch. In fact, the bank branch would want you to have the CFP before the CFA.

Another route is the independent channel (RBC DS,EJ, IG, IPQ, London Life etc.) so you run your own business and you have to build your own client base. This is very difficult, and your likely to crash and burn here as the failure rate is high.

You could look at trying to land a role as an Associate Advisor in the independent channel. You would be paid a base salary and ore importantly gain valuable experience in the industry working for a seasoned advisor and team. But you better have a good story as to why you want to transition from an already great established career into WM.

Have you given any thought to applying to the Canadian Forces?

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You could also consider applying to the OPP or RCMP. I’m sure they are looking for qualified pilots. I’m not sure about your personal situation, as you can get assigned anywhere in Ontario (or Canada for RCMP).

@Mike79, thank you for the reply - it really helps a lot.

I think the path you laid out toward an FA position is probably my best bet, given my circumstances. Similarly, I guess aiming toward the bank branches would also be the most practical. The CFP designation would likely then be a more logical goal to pursue starting off, then maybe try work toward the CFA down the road, as you mentioned.

Do you think the FA role adds any marketable if I were to try aim for an analyst position down the road?

As for the Canadian Forces/RCMP, their not practical options unfortunately. The Canadian Forces requires a huge time commitment in the force, where I’m not really sure how long it’ll be before I’m recalled. As for the RCMP, they do hire civilian pilots, but given there are now thousands of unemployed pilots (some with more than a decade of jet flying at Westjet), the odds of snagging those spots are slim.

Alternatively, has anyone been successful in finding entry level analyst positions with only a science degree? The FA position was an idea to more get my foot in the door. Would the CSC course or writing the first level of the CFA exam be of any benefit in finding such a position?

I’m sure there are many. If by analyst you mean an actual research analyst that is trickier, but if by analyst you mean someone working in a financial role, that seems plausible.

@Black_Swan, apologies - I realize there’s a lot of roles where I’m still trying to get a feel of the distinction. Let’s say, for example, a position as an equity analyst or portfolio manager?

Given your lack of familiarity with the industry unless you have a stellar undergrad background from a top ranked university that seems highly unlikely, those are generally ultra competitive roles people follow a track to target.

@Black_Swan, thank you for your input. Is there any sort of analyst-type backroom position you would recommend that I would be able to apply to, given my academic background and lack of experience, or would a financial advisor position be the most appropriate?

There’s a ton of them, I don’t really know if there’s a specific one that would be best. I would definitely just really explore job posts, network where possible, work on your resume, etc. You’ll find something, it just may take awhile.

You should look on the workopolis website for the job descriptions and pay bands for the entry level FA roles (they are pretty low) and I’m sure your pilot pay was pretty decent. If I were in your position, I would reach out to the recruiting division at RCMP andOPP and just see if they are looking to hire. It costs you nothing, there is no risk.

Trying to jump from an FA role to an analyst role would certainly be a stretch. (Usually the career switch goes the other way). But I suppose anything is possible. Location is going to be important as well, if your in Toronto (or larger city) and you are able to land an entry level job at least you have a foot in the door and can network etc. If your in a smaller city center, or rural, well the bank branch is more likely the route, but you could still look up all the brokerage firms and just email the advisor teams to see if they are looking for an associate, even if jobs aren’t posted.

RBC DS would also be a good opportunity as an entry level associate. (I would prefer this vs. going into the bank branch). Enrolling in the CSC is going to help with any entry level FA role.

I think most of the entry level analyst positions are filled via graduate recruitment programs in universities.

@Black_Swan, thank you for the words of encouragement. I’ve begun networking with family-friends to try get a feel for what’s out there. There doesn’t appear to be many entry-level job posts, but that may be a function of Covid-19 and the fact that these aren’t posted as readily. Would you say being to work toward the CFA Level I now to be worthwhile in improving my marketability?

@Mike79, thank you again for your insightful response. In terms of pay, it’s not a huge factor right now, as I’m in my mid-twenties with no mortgage or dependents. It would be great to just not burn too much into my savings, while using the time to build a plan B. I did apply for a few medevac and UN pilot gigs at the start of this, but to no avail. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt applying to the RCMP either, although these are often pretty coveted roles, nevermind the now massive surplus in pilots.

Thanks for the info regarding the FA to analyst jump too. I’m in Montreal presently, so I guess there are probably a few bigger branches. Would I still be better off targeting more boutique type banks/firms locally, as they might prefer promoting internally?

I’ll take a look at the RBC DS role. I guess these types of positions are most likely commission based?

That increasingly appears to be the case. It’d certainly be hard to be competitive in this role.

Thanks again for your time!

It doesn’t hurt to study for the CFA, but I would continue to reach out to people to learn more about the industry. Keep rethinking your resume and polishing your presentation. One thing that’s helpful are informational interviews with people. Don’t just call them asking for jobs, that’s a dead end, instead just call prepared to talk about the industry.

Yes MTL would certainly be a major hub. Look at all the big brokerage firms (RBC DS, CIBC Scotia etc) and dealers in the independent channel (IG, Assante, IPC) for Associate positions. These are salaried roles. I would say this is the preferred route as you can work under a seasoned advisor (or team) and really learn a lot.

The FA roles in the bank branch would be a base pay plus some commission. Although it will take about three years until you can acquire the required work experience towards a planning designation (PFP or CFP), in addition to the course work.

@Black_Swan, thank you for the input! I’ll continue putting out feelers to try get more information on the industry, especially the local market. The informational interviews seem like a useful method on doing so too.

@Mike79, thank you for the information and suggestions! I’ll try the big brokerage and dealers first for their salaried roles, then start working toward the PFP/CFP with them. Thanks again for all your time!