Hi all, I know this question has been asked before but I haven’t really found anything that I can use for my case in the archives. I’ve also checked career sites but obviously they’ll never cover things like age barriers (because they’re not supposed to exist and these sites are usually aimed at students). I’m 34 year old engineer. I really like finance and would like to start a career in banking. I follow the markets and I know a fair amount about economics and finance. I enjoy doing sample CFA questions and I would definitely take the exams for real if I met the finance work requirement. Personality wise, I’m a typical geek (not trader material). 1. Is it realistic for me to try to start a career in banking at this point? I refer not just to getting hired, but also to blending in and enjoying myself. 2. Are there any areas of banking or finance in general (not quant.) with a higher average age, even at the entry level and who aren’t too picky about degrees? 3. I heard that lawyers often move laterally into banking? How does that work? Or do they not do anything involving numbers at the bank? Anyway I hope you guys can help me, because whether or not go into banking or finance is a big career decision for me. It’s not like my childhood dream or anything, just that I find finance interesting and was thinking of trying a career change. I had no idea this industry was so competitive. BTW, This is a really good forum. Lots of good stuff here.
maybe you should take the CFA for real. but then again, i hear the CFA is useless in banking.
If you want to get into finance at your age I would recommend going for your MBA. That’s the only way that I know of that you will be able to enter at a salary that will be somewhat commensurate with your current salary (assuming that you currently make a “decent” living). The MBA is the best tool for switching careers later on in life and getting into the finance industry. Another option would be to marry a finance head-honcho’s pig of a daughter and go from there.
CFA is not useless in banking…that comment pi@@es me off more than anything
Another option would be to marry a finance head-honcho’s pig of a daughter and go from there. **hahahahahahahahha!
Thanks for the quick responses, guys. FrankArabia, I thought you had to already be working in finance to take the exams, but I see now that this requirement is only for actual membership. Thanks for the info, but I won’t bother getting the CFA unless I have a good chance of ever using it. Skillionaire, I thought about it but can’t afford the MBA and won’t get the time off nor the money from my company either. Also, by the time I complete it, I’ll be even older. I don’t really care about the money, but you’re right it would be ridiculous to be my age and be an intern or something. If I were to have enough money, I think I’d rather start out on my own. So what can I definitely cross off my list other than trading and I-banking? Anything on the sell side? What about back-room stuff (operations) or Global custody? Does anyone work in these areas?
Seb…are you telling me that having a CFA makes you competitive in getting an associate gig? i have yet to hear htat having a CFA will increase your chances at getting into ibanking. but you can be the first.
Frank, try to read the responses carefully before you comment on them. “So what can I definitely cross off my list other than trading and I-banking?” Seb, if you have any money saved up you can trade on your own account; show a solid track record (multi-year, and preferably surviving through both bear and bull markets) I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t hire you. Alpha is alpha, no matter what credentials you have.
MBA is the best for banking. Atleast for the ppl I know working in it. But CFA is still respected. With an Engineering background, why not try to get in as a research associate. Then you can move to banking.
Not sure if you have you correct but… what kind of engineer are you? chemical engineering and computing engineering make hell a lot of difference when it comes to the attributes you can leverage. Even within computing - Do you think graphics/network is the same as algorithm development? No. And I try to be as polite as possible, so you are not willing to sit for CFA program because you have no required experience. The reality is, a lot of people sit for the exam first and leverage from the fact that they passed to get a proper job. You are not willing to try for a MBA either. So what makes you think you can jump into finance without making some effort? Operation may be a good entry given you are not willing to sit for CFA or take MBA, but are you willing to take the pay cut? You are 34, assuming you graduated at the age of 25, it’s almost 10 years in the field. You should beearning some decent pay in engineering world. What makes you want to change at this stage of life? The last thing is you said you like to do CFA sample questions!!! Give me a break…
If you don’t want to do MBA, then you should just pass CFA L1 and start from the bottom for 50k.
My age is comparable to you and I did a whole career change about 2 years ago, and can relate to your concerns. At this age though, I don’t know why you would want to do banking, considering you would start at the very bottom of an environment that is pretty harsh. As for your 2nd question, I have noticed that research tends to have an older mix…at least where I work. If you have industry experience, you could try and make the switch over when a spot opens up, but even that is still tough to do given that there’s only x amount of spots that open up per year and you’ll be competing with tons of people who have experience. There’s also a hiring freeze and layoffs in some cases and your timing is not good. If I were you, I might seriously consider MBA, given that it’s a top tier school…even that will be tough because my guestimate for next year’s enrollment is that there will be a huge influx of new applicants because of the current job market. I know this picture may seem grim, but .
skillionaire Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Frank, try to read the responses carefully before > you comment on them. > > “So what can I definitely cross off my list other > than trading and I-banking?” > > Seb, if you have any money saved up you can trade > on your own account; show a solid track record > (multi-year, and preferably surviving through both > bear and bull markets) I don’t know of anyone who > wouldn’t hire you. Alpha is alpha, no matter what > credentials you have. try to notice that our messages were posted a minute apart and that i was writing while he was writing. obviously you’re demanding me to be detailed oriented when you should have been following your own advice. *slips your jab and counters with a right hand* OH and he is hurt.
Wow. A lot of responses. Thanks all. @Takumi: I think you missed my 2nd post where I said I wasn’t aware the CFA exam was open to everyone, and where I said I don’t mind taking a pay cut as long as I’m happy with my work. Why do you find it so shocking that someone would want to change careers? People do it all the time. I heard of many bankers getting out and medical and bio tech people getting in. Maybe you’ll want to change careers at some point, and maybe you’ll want to do engineering even. (You were right about me being a computing eng, btw.) Engineering is a numeric and male dominated business, just like finance. It’s not such a big leap from an academic point of view, but it’s so different culture-wise it’s scary. Right now I’m just gathering info, not trying to “jump in without any effort”. I’ve only been just started thinking about banking (a little under 2 weeks) so yeah it’s a bit early to do anything more than sample exams. As for the MBA, see my 2nd post. And the CFA? Now that I know I can take the exam I’ll probably sign up for L1, hopefully for december (I need to have another look at the curriculum to see if I’ll have enough time to prepare, though). @cfa_toronto_on: You mean ER? I like that suggestion, I’ll look into it. @all: After all this talk of MBA’s. What jobs are you guys going for that require a CFA for advancement, if not in banking? Are any of you thinking about doing MBA’s? @hobbes: Interesting comments. I starting to agree with you. It’s tough especially in the current market and might not be worth the grief. But I don’t want to limit myself to banking. At this point I’m interested in any work in the finance sector where a CFA and my MS would be enough to get me an interview. What career did you change from and in what area of finance are you currently working? Anyone know anything about Global Custody jobs? I know what they do but what’s it like to work in that area?
FWIW, I was slinging Java at age 44, two years later I became an investment banker. I don’t think this career path is very common, and there was a certain amount of luck involved. But it’s possible. I’d say age isn’t the challenge, the tricky part is doing the career hop without halving compensation in the process. Seb – curious, how are you using cfa in banking?
FrankArabia Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Seb…are you telling me that having a CFA > makes you competitive in getting an associate gig? > > > i have yet to hear htat having a CFA will increase > your chances at getting into ibanking. but you can > be the first. you’re right…it really doesn’t. the body of knowledge is certainly relevant for both IB and PE, but very few people have the designation because they don’t need it. work experience is far more valuable, and once you’re senior enough to have the relationships to boot, an exam is pointless. also, lewellyn, if you do plan to get into banking, you really need to leverage every relationship you have and target boutique banks. unless you have something highlight relevant to banking (such as a degree in M&A or corporate law) you will not be considered by the big banks. in addition, there is nothing from your posting that suggests that you even really know what banking is (though you can prove me wrong by explaining why you want to do banking)…and unless you can unmistakably convey to your interviewer why you want to do banking and what you’re getting yourself into, banking will be a nut that you will not crack. and no, based on your description, banking will not be something you will enjoy anyway. anyway, not trying to be discouraging, but you have to make sure you are barking up the right tree…
Alright, I misunderstood your point on the CFA program. However, I agree with Numi that I don’t think you really know what banking (or precisely, investment banking) is. You made it sounds like it’s “just” ibanking… In terms of engineering, I came from that field, I had a degree in comp eng and will not want to do it again. You are right that it is a numerical and male-dominated field. However, programming for a game does not help you getting into banking at all. Imagine yourself talking about openGL, C# in an ibanking interview. How can you leverage that? Same thing applies to AI, networking… In regarding to the pay cut, we’re talking down the ground pay cut, not like a 3~5k cut. As if you have to start your career again, do you have mortgage pressure? kids? Anyway, that being said, it’s still early stage. Perhaps time will allow you to find out what you really want from the career switch and the appropraite approach to be taken. Good luck.
A lot of the ex-Military guys are well into their thirties when they get into banking but many of them wrapped-up an MBA along the way. So, no, I don’t think you’re too old. I think the MBA advice is important though. I would go that route. As for the CFA, I agree it isn’t useless because you need to have capital markets knowledge however I think it is more of a “door opener” in other areas of finance.
Since you have a PhD in Computer, it is possible that you can become a quant at hedge fund like DE Shaw or RenTech. If you are a superstar programmer, you can make 400k+ over there. Good luck!
You may find this guide useful: http://www.efinancialcareers.com/images/fuseads/inhouse/cifm_us.pdf