Hello all – I’m currently studying for the Level I exam and hope to pull apart enough couches and recliners to scrap up the money to meet the March 2014 registration deadline. While I’m initially reaching out to say hello and introduce myself, I’m hoping some of the experienced (and less experienced if you see fit) members can provide some insight given my current situation. Ultimately, regardless of what the consensus might be, I’m going to pursue the CFA with every bit of my energy because I believe, among other things, it’s the best shot I have to get out of an industry I feel I’m doomed to be in – I’m simply interested any advice (whether good or bad) I can use to help myself make the transition.
Anyway, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Rutgers University in New Brunswick in May 2011. More recently, I’ve been working as an account representative, which includes a bit of project management and operational stuff, at a small office furniture installation company. I have no experience in finance whatsoever. I initially had ambitions to pursue an MBA in finance after graduating, but I chose to join the Marine Corps to “find myself” as it were. I was quickly discharged for an orthopedic impairment. I currently don’t have the money, nor any remote desire to take on another loan, to pursue an MBA. I also prefer to rely on educating myself rather than institutional training as well as gaining a more specialized knowledge in the field of analysis and research. This is why I think the CFA is right for me.
I’m very self-driven and, despite my gaping lack of experience, I believe that enough hard work, aggressive networking, and looking for advice from CFA societies and communities like you, I can get to where I want to be. Given my experiential disadvantage, I just need a healthy, realistic gauge for where I stand. Currently, I plan to pass Level II before looking to make the switch out of my current field. I’m hoping then to gain enough experience to land a very good job once I pass Level III. These might be bad ideas. I don’t know. That’s where you guys come in :). Some of you might even suggest that all of the work required to pass levels I and II would not be worth it given my lack of experience. I respect the community here and will accept and consider any and all advice. Ignorance is not bliss!
Stick with it I say!
I joined the military straight out of school, became a paratrooper and did that until I decided to take a breather and (give my bones a bit of a rest). I ended up starting a business (which was as far out of the finance field as you could imagine) and while I built that up I pursued my study and basic qualifications (via distance education) in financial markets (etc). The plan was to go into stockbroking, then I saw the light (I’m more interested in numbers and strategy than selling stuff).
From there I applied for a position (that I was vastly under-qualified for) at a small wealth management firm. A few weeks later their HR director gave me a call and offered me the job — turns out that even though on paper I was under qualified they seemed to like my drive and ambition (or something like that). I hired a former workmate to run my business while I made the jump into finance. The first thing I noticed is that almost everyone is very, very mediocre (seriously, they are). Most of my colleagues had only ever done finance, and were from well-to-do backgrounds, and were more worried about which cufflinks they were going to wear than what was actually going on with their clients….from what I saw, the general culture seemed to suggest that they had it so easy all the way through school to entering the workforce that they didn’t know how to really grab a task by the throat and get it done on time, on budget, and to an exceptional standard. Anyway, within 3 months I was moving up the rungs and within 6 months I was in a senior strategy position. Within a year I was head-hunted by an investment bank and moved cities to join them (again to lead a portfolio management/strategy position). And so on and so forth. 7 years from first entering the field I was consulting to governments and large philanthropic trusts. This is not to gloat, but is to point out that even someone like me, who still regards the military as a more of a “real” job that investment banking, can do well.
The point being is that I worked for it, and I believe that pretty much anyone who wants something enough can get it. Set yourself a goal and go for it. There’s a lot more to lose from not trying. And use others’ mediocrity to your advantage! In my opinion, anyone who gives the CFA a serious crack is already deserving of respect. Not because it means they are necessarily smart, but because it shows they have the drive to strive for success even when it doesn’t come easy (excluded from this category are those who don’t turn up on exam day).
So I say give it a crack! And if at first you don’t succeed, stick at it.
@mitch895, awesome inspiring story! @micadeli – it’s one of those things where you have to try, give it your best shot anyway. You’re still young, and very driven, and with a bit of hard work and self discipline I don’t see why you can’t pass the CFA exams.
We are here for you, and if you ever have any questions/doubts on your studies, you know where to find us 😀
Awesome story (@mitch895 as well). I think you have your priorities straight. I particularly cheer these points:
– Not taking out more loans to pursue an MBA (I personally don’t see the RoI especially if you’ve had a varied career like yourself)
– Understanding that networking and hard work is necessary to switch careers
– Understanding that CFA helps but doesn’t guarantee jobs
Just reach out to any of us if you need any help at all. It’s good to have you here!
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