Seeking career guidance: No real experience in finance field, is CFA my only option to break through?

Hey guys, I’ll just give you my details right away and save your time. 1. I’m 24 years old. Doing Chartered accountancy and company secretary course from india(both at final stage) 2. I have experience in audit and taxation. 3. No practical experience in core finance. 4. Not willing to go for taxation or audit work at all. Can manage accountancy field jobs though (but i prefer i don’t have to do that). 5. Also cleared 1 paper of CFP, appearing for 2nd in november end. 6. No corporate experience yet. I’ve just done the compulsory internship for CA course (3.5 yrs). My questions are: A. I really want to get into core finance. Should i really need CFA for that? I’ve seen my CA friends trying for jobs in finance but they’re not getting any luck. B. I can pull some strings at corporate level (not 100% sure if it will work though), so if i opt for doing CFA, what should be the best time (or level) to do that? C. I have an option to do a short term valuation course (recognised) next year. Would that help? Any extra course that can be suggested? D. Till the time i don’t use my contacts at the corporate level, should i just settle for any finance work? I’ve heard many people saying that experience is very essential in finance. Thanks for reading. I really want to know your suggestions. I know i might sound too amateur but i guess you people should be smart enough to know the reason. P.S.: Please excuse any grammatical errors.

CFA is generally not valuable for breaking into finance. It is valuable for people already in the industry who are looking to move up.

Thanks Ramos4rm, So what do you suggest I should do to break in?

First I think you should decide on a field in finance to know the best path. What is core finance? That doesn’t sound like a thing to me.


If given back my 3 years, i would do MBA instead…better chance for breaking in.

MBA is better for breaking in because it has 2 advantages that the CFA doesn’t. 1) Networking 2) On campus recruitment.

yeah, i should’ve mentioned that earlier… My bad. Any ways, i think i might be interested in investment banking or Corporate finance. I’m more inclined towards research stuff rather than the trading.

really? I thought cfa always won the cfa vs mba war!

also, please tell whether or not the valuation course and the cfp will help me in my career.

It depends where you are in life / career.

If you want your best shot at breaking in from non-finance, then a top MBA is your best chance.

Otherwise CFA program.

Thanks. That really helped. I’m 24 and currently studying. So i guess i’ll take up a job first and study for CFA side by side. And i think i’ll just go for an executive MBA Whenever i have 5-6 yrs. of experience.

Try getting to transaction advisory side of accounting firm (at Big 4), it’ll be a good place to start.

Btw collecting acronyms after your name won’t help much without some hands-on experience.

Thanks for your suggestion ninja_economist. I just wanted to know why exactly would the transaction advisory services be the right choice to start a career in finance. I have been suggested by many to go for almost anything I can find in finance. They said i could switch to my area of interest later. Is this true?

you’re doing the proper chartered accountant course?

you have it good mate…if i could change my degree that’s what i would do.

i have friends who have gotten into ‘finance’ jobs using their CA degree, the others who are still trying to break into finance want to work for a bit and then get their MBA.

after just finishing something like CA,will you really have the stomach for CFA?

yes. but i have to tell you its very tough!

that is what everyone is asking me… i guess, i’ll take this opportunity. smiley

I always thought that CFA was intended for BuySide careers, and that IB/SellSide didnt care that much about CFA.

If you’re interested in breaking into IB i suggest you try these sites:

I havent personally tried them, but i’ve heard great stuff from people who did. Both programs teach you SellSide valuation modelling, plus tips for networking and interviewing.

Incorrect. SS eq research values it as well.

Although you can make an argument that all the L3 port mgmt stuff isn’t that relevant to SS

What about breaking into SS ER? I can see how having the charter would be nice for anyone already in ER, but to get into SS ER, you would need to break into IB in the first place - and usually CFA is not very useful for that.

Breaking directly into IB would an uphill task without experience and/or good grad degree, which offers networking & on-campus recruiting as Former Trader has pointed out earlier. CA qualification can be very helpful in landing you a job at Big 4. And you can use the transaction advisory experience to move into IB later on.

Btw you need to be clear about your goals first. “Breaking into Finance” is way too general goal.