CFA CFA General Getting a CFA at 50

Getting a CFA at 50

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    • dctomm
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      I’ve been a software developer for 25 years. I’ve been thinking seriously about sitting for the CFA exams, and I’ve done enough research to know what the process entails in terms of effort and expense. What I haven’t been able to find out is what professional benefits there are to getting a CFA at this point in my life. When I finish the L3 exam I will be 50 years old at least. At that age, what career choices would I have? Is there any way to combine my decades in Silicon Valley with a charter? Is it even worth doing? I’m willing to endure the grind and sacrifice of getting the charter, but if there’s no professional benefit, I’d rather know now.

      Thanks for any insights.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @dctomm, welcome to the community!

      I must say I haven’t had experience answering this question! But do you plan to switch careers now? e.g. you want to do asset management for example? More detail on what your career aspirations are even at this stage may help.

      That said, I’d think it is difficult to find a job in a finance role instantly to start over given your extensive experience and specialisation in software development. How I see this working is more of a gradual switch: if you join a firm in the finance sector (bank / asset manager etc) that you intend to switch to, but in a software development role. Then while studying the CFA you slowly aim for that change of role. So, switching the sector into a right firm first, then switching roles as you study for the CFA is one of the ways how I see this working.

    • dctomm
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      I’ve looked into this path. Most firms in the finance sector do not have their own programmers. I was not thinking so much about asset management as a role in tech consulting (e.g. Accenture), venture capital, or strategy (e.g. evaluating acquisition targets at Cisco). Is this something a developer-turned-CFA can do? MBA is out, I can’t afford to not work, and no b-school will take me at this age.

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Ok, I can’t say for sure whether a CFA would help (and whether it’s worth the pain in your situation).

      But since you’re in Silicon Valley anyway, the startup network there may help. Instead of going for a CFA with uncertain return, I would attend all these startup events, meeting people, with the purpose of joining tech strategy (where you can push your software development background as being relevant), or product management (where development knowledge is a big plus, but exposes you to the commercial side of things as well). Ask them for advice, tell them what you’re looking for, ask for a referral, keep in touch, do this consistently for months and you will hear of something.

      I think tech consulting is also easy to get into if you try for interviews at those big firms. CFA may not be worth your time and effort, I’d rather go direct really. Risk vs. return 🙂

      Just my 2 cents!

    • edulima
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      dctomm, I think you need to make a deep reflection into how you want to spend the next few years in your career. You may have another 15 (plus or minus 5) years to go before retirement. I believe this is enough to make a whole new career and be successful in it – whether this is in finance or something else, this is something only you can determine. For sure the CFA program is a big investment you need to make up-front if you are to choose finance as your next career, but you should take the long-term view. If you fall in love with finance, then these exams will take you a couple of years to get through, and you also need to devise a plan to find a job in the field. Transitioning from your current role sounds like a good option, but again, you need to explore these possibilities.

      If you are not sure whether you like finance enough to go for it, you may want to put yourself through the Level 1 exam and “try your hand” at it; this experience may bring you some revelation and at that point you can consider whether to keep going or halt it. Worst case scenario at that point: you decide finance is not your thing and spent a few months studying the subject; you ended up learning some finance and reached a conclusion that you’re not born for this. Best case scenario: you found your thing and are 1 exam down, 2 to go. So I’d say “go for it” if you feel there’s a chance this is your thing.

    • Sophie Macon
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      @edulima that’s sensible advice!

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