[original post removed]

double post

I took my Level I exam in June, 1997, at the age of 38. I received my charter in September, 1999, at the age of 40.

If you made a mistake not pursuing yours earlier . . . well . . . there’s nothing you can do about that. If you pursue it now, you could earn your charter when you’re eight years younger that I was when I earned mine.

What was the question again?

I’ve had some success recently landing interviews, but always get asked about CFA. All of the people competing for the same job tend to have multiple levels completed. I haven’t been able to land an offer. How can I explain why I haven’t done the CFA if I claim IM/AM is what I want to do? My reason is what I described in the original post. I’m starting to think I’m getting rejected because I haven’t done any CFA levels.

I think it’s too late to sign up for Dec 2013 exam, but I am certain about June 2014 and trying to pass that. However, I am looking for a new job right now and can’t wait until then.

It’s a hard place to find yourself in, but you need to play the hand you’re dealt.

Magician is right in a way, there’s not really such a thing as too late, but o the other hand the economy the way it is things are brutal out there.

I’m 36 and a Level 3 candidate, with 4 years experience as an investment analyst before I lost my job. Now I do portfolio support. I pass trades, I calculate NAV, risk etc. there’s very few opportunities where I am, and it seems I’m always either too experienced or not experienced enough. But from my experience and the many other posts on the forum your position in the CFA program whether you’re at the end or the beginning should have very little bearing on your ability to get the job.

Look at it this way, you’re getting interviews you were not getting before, it’s progress. What you need to do is think about how long you think it’s going to take and what else you could do if you don’t make it. this may not be pleasant, I’ve done this and don’t like my conclusions as I think it could take me years to get back into analysis, but I don’t see myself doing anything else so I’ll keep working at it until I get there.

A lot of the factors affecting you are out of your control, I’m still seeing a lot of analysts, portfolio managers, etc. being fired. These guys are direct competition and until the economy really picks up i don’t see things going back to 2005 where you could get hired with no qualifications, no experience and no idea.

As to being asked you thoughts about the CFA, we all have thoughts about the CFA. I think the CFA is a great qualification, but in some ways it teaches you a great many things you don’t need (although as a prospective triple crown I think it’s always helpful to know more) and not enough of what you do need. If you work in fixed income the CFA is not enough and many of your colleagues and bosses will not have the level of knowledge a Charterholder has in other areas. But the one indisputable thing the Charter proves is that you had what it takes to get through a grueling study course whilst working at the same time. If you did it unemployed or as a student I think that takes something away from it but that’s just me.

Whatever you decide, make a plan, take a decision and follow it through.

Good luck

Without knowing your plan or long-term goals, it is hard to answer this question.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, skid. We live and we learn. It sounds like you’ve made good use of your time so far, and if you find what you want to do before you’re 30 – you’re ahead of a number of people I know.

For what it’s worth, in my experience attitude can make up for one or two perceived ‘shortcomings’. If you are not a charterholder yet, but say that you are a candidate and that you’re excited about entering the program and rounding up your professional education, there are some people out there who will respect and value that. No excuses or regrets, just desire and eagerness. And if you can demonstrate your interest about the industry and the firm, if you can show that you’ve done your homework and read the news, if you can listen, analyze and think on your feet - trust me, there are people and places where this can take you as far or further than a certification.

I know that this economy is tough, and it’s only normal that you would be asking those kinds of questions, but regrets are only constructive if you learn from them, act on them and move on. For what it’s worth I had some regrets about some choices I made in my late teens / early twenties. I got a good graduate degree from a good European school - but kept feeling it was good, not great. So first I decided to bring to my job the work ethic I didn’t have in school, and did very well in my first few years on a trading floor, moving from middle office to front office in my first year and progressing nicely in that role. Years later I still felt something was missing, so I got another graduate degree from an ivy league school while working full time, and as soon as I was finished (last year) I enroled for the CFA (Dec 2012 Level 1 / June 2013 Level 2). Now I’m a Level 3 candidate with two graduate degrees and a great job, and I feel pretty good about all of it. No more regrets about not studying hard enough when I was 20…!

Sorry for telling you more about me than you probably care to know, but my point is: these don’t sound like mistakes to me; they sound like learnings, or at least learning opportunities. There are a number of people who seemed ahead of me when we were in our 20s, but I’ve course-corrected and adapted more than most. Now we’re in our mid-30s and some are still ahead of me, but many of them aren’t. I’m not saying that to tap myself on the shoulder, merely to say that if you learn from most of the ‘mistakes’ you make you’ll probably end up ahead of people who never took chances and never made mistakes (if such people exist). So — whatever you choose to do: do it, do it well, and enjoy doing it… Go for it, skid!

Better late than never


Pfff. Quit whining and do it. I was in the same boat, except without the masters degree. I said, “well, this CFA thing seems pretty important and this is the field I want to be in, I’d better get after it”.

I passed Level I when I was 29. Level II I passed at 31. Level III I passed at 33. (one fail, one year off for baby).

Getting an MBA from anywhere other than Harvard or Wharton isn’t worth it in the investment field. MBA’s are a dime a dozen. You can get one anywhere and they are expensive as hell.

Take Level I in December. Level I is easy if you put in the time and effort, you will pass. Not too late, especially if you don’t work long hours at your current job and don’t have a family yet and have the time to study.

…Or, you could be a 35 year old guy in 6 years without the CFA still wondering what you “could have done”.

I don’t know how you can explain it.

My point is that if you don’t start now, you’ll have to continue to explain it forever. If you do start now, in a couple of years you might not have to explain anything: you, too, will have multiple levels completed.

Get started!

I’d just focus on your career at this point… if lacking the charter has a clear and material setback on your career, then by all means spend the little free time you have left to pursue it.

Next time you find yourself unemployed, it may be a good time to consider going for Level 1 (along with finding another job.)

No formal statistical analysis but I’d estimate the average age of CFA candidates to be in their late 20s to early 30s…

Jay Leno made a joke once about drilling for oil in Alaska. He said, “Democrats are against drilling for oil in Alaska, because it would take 10 years before we actually start getting any oil–which is the same thing they said 10 years ago.”

Similarly, you seem to be saying, “I won’t finish it for X years and it won’t pay off for X years after that, so it’s not worth it.”

As for me–I passed Level 1 at the tender age of 30. Failed L2, passed L2, passed L3 at 33.

Hi skid,

I don’t think it’s too late at all!

First of all, you are YOUNG, you are very young in the finance industry and i don’t think you are at a disadvantage starting now.

Second, not many people know exactly what they do at 22. Honestly, how many of these students know what porfolio/ asset managment really are at that age? So even if they start their CFA program early and finish their exams by 25, how many of them actually get employed and relevant work experience?

Lastly, to answer your question, you can simply say that your experience guide you toward this industry and through your previous role you have gained confidence and passion in finance, thus this is the great time for you to start the CFA program now.

Remember, everyone’s path is different, you probably wouldn’t be interested in the CFA program 5 years ago, or if you have taken the exams, you may have missed the job opportunities or other things in life.

live life with no regrets! just go with the flow and focus on the future!

good luck :slight_smile:


Years ago a gentleman wrote to Dear Abby asking if he should start medical school at an advanced age. His parting comment was, “In ten years, when I finish medical school and my residency, I’ll be 40 years old.”

Abby’s reply: “And how old will you be in ten years if you don’t go to medical school?”

I’m 26 giving level 1. I feel I should have started when I was 24 like some of my friends did. But back then, I never took the charter seriously and thought it was just some random certificate course. Now however, I realise it’s importance in job market, especially in emerging economies.

Bottomline, it’s never too late. Atleast you are not in your mid 40s giving the exam.

These two sentences seem to contradict each other.

Whoops didn’t see that! My bad cheeky

It’s never too late to do this. I’m L3 at age 46. I did L1 10 years ago and put it aside as my career was going well. Hey it would be nice to have this on my résumé now but whatever - I’m just getting it done. You should stop worrying and just do it too. It’s as simple as that.

Oh and by the way I saw plenty of fellow graybeards like me in the exam room this year :wink:

This thread is inspiring, I thought I was not so young anymore when I decide to start the CFA program. I wrote L1 this June and I am 29 (grateful that I passed). Preparing to attempt L2 probably in 2015. During the L1 preparation I asked myself, is this really what I want to get myself into? I have my own self-doubts on my ability to commit and ability to study and overcome the exam.

During the L1 exam I spotted several candidates, 2 candidates in fact, whom I think are in their 50s+. That really gave me great motivation and strength. I asked myself that if they can attempt it, then why can’t I?