CFA CFA General Why are we pursuing the charter?

Why are we pursuing the charter?

  • This topic has 75 replies, 25 voices, and was last updated Nov-17 by Maverick.
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    • Sophie Macon
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      Some of you may have known my reasons from this post, but I’m interested in hearing your stories about your reasons and experience with CFA so far.

      Why did you take the CFA and has it been helpful for your goals?

    • tacheman
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      It’s more of an asset and hedge for me at this point. With the economy and job market as it is, it’s better for me to get every advantage over the rest while I can.

    • Maroon5
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      Hi @Sophie, love your posts, they are super motivational I must say!

      For me, I’m looking to upgrade my finance knowledge and have a designation recognised worldwide as well. I’m currently a strategy analyst for retail banking sector, but looking to explore asset management and whether it’s for me. Just like @TacheMan, I guess this is an asset and a hedge too.

    • hairyfairy
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      I’m in AM at the moment at entry-level – let’s just say it’s CFA or my ass out of the door. Plus it really helps me do my job as I majored in history in university…

    • policedog
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      Many of the more senior partners in my firm (I’m in consulting) have a CFA charter. Many on my level are working towards one so I guess you could say it’s professional peer pressure 🙂

    • artyeasel
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    • tacheman
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    • fabian
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      It’s a good financial education for someone like me (no finance background whatsoever)

    • hairyfairy
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      It’s a good financial education for someone like me (no finance background whatsoever)

      I admire your zeal…

    • artyeasel
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      Part of the job (in corporate advisory).

      I’ve got loads of colleagues here who are somewhere in the process of taking the CFA exams, but the thing is that there is no incentive to properly put the effort to pass. We’ve got tons of people here who are stuck at level 1 or level 2.

      Motivation is key if you ask me.

    • christine
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      A quick one from me: I originally signed up for the CFA exams as I was in finance. However I moved further and further away from finance job-wise, but maintained my CFA pursuit as a kind of a fall-back in case I ever needed to go back to finance roles.

      I never did go back to finance, but at the same time I didn’t regret completing the CFA exams either 🙂

    • Anonymous
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      I’m trying to break into investment banking at the moment – would appreciate any help on this!

    • policedog
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      I’m trying to break into investment banking at the moment – would appreciate any help on this!

      @tim Consulting for financial institutions might be a good intermediary job. You get to work with banks, create relationships, and loads of consultants get poached into clients later on.

    • Sarah
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      Because I want to work aboard in style. I liked how it was recognized worldwide, I figured out what I was getting into afterward :p

    • policedog
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      Where are you from @diya?

    • Sarah
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      @policedog Why? I live in Toronto, Canada

    • Sophie Macon
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      Interesting @Diya, where’s the dream place to work then?

    • Sarah
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      @Sophie I made the decision when I was 18/19 years old. I went to university sure I was going to finish with an accounting specialist and do the CA exams. I quickly found out that accounting was not something I could do for the rest of my life.

      I was also miffed at the point in my life that I couldn’t study in Germany due to various circumstances (one of them being that I only knew basic German – I don’t remember any German anymore).

      I would like to work in Germany or Singapore or South Korea.

    • james010
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      To get out of back office operations and into trading. Also to try and erase the 2.2 and get into graduate schemes for trading.

    • Sophie Macon
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      @Diya, I experienced the same thing on accounting too. Useful stuff, but not as a career! Those are awesome places to work 🙂

    • Sophie Macon
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      @james010, I believe we have some traders lurking around here, perhaps you can speak to them. What areas of trading interests you?

    • james010
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      Hi @sophie – I am interested in any type of trading really but if I could have my pick I would either like to get into equities/ equity derivatives/ loan or repo trading. A friend’s boyfriend does it and have talked to him a bit about it and it sounds like what I would be interested in. That or FX. Where I work has a relatively small FX/ FX options trading floor but there are very few opportunities to get in there (one every few years or so) so am looking to jump as soon as possible. Would do anything to get a foot in the door as having no luck so far.

      If anyone out there in 300hour land has any advice/would be up for meeting up for a coffee please get in touch!

    • Sophie Macon
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      @james010, interesting, I have a past life in equity derivs structuring. Not a trader though. Where are you based?

    • Sarah
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      @Sophie how did you like equity derivative structuring? I once bumped into someone that worked in the M&A department for Blackberry and his description of it really turned me off from M&A.

    • policedog
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      Tech m&a is a bit different though @diya. Much more guesswork, less analytics. What did you find bad about it?

    • Sophie Macon
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      @Diya, I was in structuring first, then swapped to M&A. Completely different I must say. I enjoyed structuring, it was faster pace and markets based. It’s quite like combining finance, law/regulation, problem solving altogether in one role. I work with traders a lot of pricing, and sometimes M&A bankers if they want to try some derivative trades, everyday is pretty varied!

      M&A is a little different. The hours are longer, but less time sensitive (as it not totally dependant on market timing), so one can say its less stressful, but I’d say it’s the same. I find (at a more junior level) things can be mundane after a while as its pretty repetitive when pitching to clients.

    • james010
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      @sophie – I am based in London (city).

    • Sophie Macon
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      Ok awesome @james010, same place then. Let me dig out a few trader contacts and see if they can help you. PM me then

    • Miux
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      I’m currently working as an equity analyst 🙂 I guess it is quite a competitive industry here? (and a consolidating 1 as well). But taking the CFA does serve the purpose of having a goal and improvement to work on.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @Miux, great to have you around! And an equity analyst, woohoo. I believe we have some members here who’d love to hear more about what you do 🙂 What level are you currently on @Miux?

    • AjFinance
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      I was working in a finance role right after graduation. It was good for sometime but ultimately I grew tired of the back office role and the odd hours. Always felt the need for a better job profile in finance and something that is more challenging. Heard about CFA from a friend, and the wealth of financial knowledge interested me. In my opinion, CFA gives you a lot of credibility. Also, its a globally recognized qualification which can be obtained while you’re still working, there aren’t many of them out there that give you such flexibility.

    • Snippy
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      I too heard about CFA from a friend and since my eventual plans lie in the US, i decided to do it. Before i end up there, i’m also doing a MSc in Finance course later this year and this programme is partnered with the CFA institute, so it should help me become more efficient before i finally get a job in this field.

    • james010
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      @sophie – consider yourself PM’d.

    • Reena
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      Nice one @sidmenon, that’s quite a load of studies, but I’m sure you’ll achieve the aim of heading to the US

    • AjFinance
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      @SidMenon where are you planning to do your MSc in Finance from?

    • Snippy
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      @AjFinance I’m going to do it from University College Dublin, Ireland.

    • Snippy
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      @Reena, thank you!

    • AjFinance
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      @SidMenon Goodluck dude :-bd . btw whats your academic and professional background?

    • Snippy
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      @AjFinance Thanks man! 😀 No work experience, graduated last year with a B.Com degree with specialisation in finance.

    • Sarah
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      @SidMenon same as me! Which university?

    • Snippy
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      @Diya Christ University in Bangalore. And you?

    • Sarah
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      @SidMenon University of Toronto in Toronto. Wow that was redundant.

    • Snippy
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      @Diya Haha, nice! 😛

    • hairyfairy
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      @diya are you still in canada? Just got off a conf call with Toronto 🙂

    • Sarah
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      @hairyfairy yes I lived here all my life. I don’t live in Toronto but in a city close by. But it only is about a twenty minutes drive to get to Toronto~

    • hairyfairy
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      I must visit sometime!

    • banananata
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      I heard about the CFA from my friend and did some research while I was still in university but didn’t really give it much thought. A month after graduating, I decided to sign up for the exam because I couldn’t find a job and I thought that it would be a way for me to distinguish myself from other new grads ( I don’t have much professional experience).
      After signing up for Level 1 , I learn about an Accelerated Program for CMA…….I signed up for that as well. Needless to say that I don’t have much of a social life right now.

      Some of the reasons why I chose to continue with Level 2 are:
      – Trying to make up for the lack of professional experience
      – Challenge myself
      – I want to work/live in Asia in some point of my life

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @banananata, good to hear from you 🙂 That’s quite hardcore with CFA and CMA together, but it’s good investment to distinguish yourself, as you said. We hope you find the discussions here useful, and feel free to ask a question or start a new discussion from the green button at the top!

    • Zee Tan
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      @banananata building your own skills while biding your time for a good opportunity is the right way to go about it!

      If Asia is your eventual goal it’s a wise move to look at qualifications. Where in particular are you interested in? We have a few members ( @james010 comes to mind ) that have worked in Asia before…

    • AjFinance
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      @banananata You seem to be on the right path 🙂 Where do you live?

    • banananata
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      @Zee I’m not too sure hoping Hong Kong or Shanghai

      @AjFinance
      I’m in Calgary =)

    • Sarah
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      @banananata Yea another fellow Canadian!
      Any particular reason for picking Hong Kong and Shanghai?

    • vincentt
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      I’ve always find the financial market interesting and wanted to break in. Did try talking to various people who are currently working in the financial industry and been told that by getting some certification it might help, at least it shows some initiation. The certifications they told me were IMC and CFA, but of course CFA is apparently the ‘gold standard’ in financial services and i have been told it’s really hard.
      Hence, I told myself why bother doing something easy when everyone else could easily get it too which defeats the purpose of “trying to stand out” from other candidates (especially for someone with no financial background, i wouldn’t stand a chance at all).

    • Zee Tan
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      @vincentt FYI, IMC is about the same (or maybe less) than CFA Level 1, and is UK-only. 😀

    • vincentt
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      @zee uk only? wasn’t aware of that, but some of the advice i got was that CFA might be extremely challenging for someone who does not have any financial background and should consider IMC (a stepping stone towards CFA).

      But how much would CFA help (I know it’s too late to ask, since i’m already doing it anyway 😛 ) for someone with no financial background getting into a research role?

    • Sophie Macon
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      CFA itself is the stamp of approval certifying the presence of your financial analysis knowledge. And it couldn’t be more relevant to research itself. The next thing you’d look for is practical experience, and hence a job in that sector itself!

    • vincentt
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      do u think it’s a good time to hunt for such roles from mid year onwards (after the the exam) ? I heard that there’s more movement in the industry after the bonus which is mar/apr ?

    • Sophie Macon
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      Personally I don’t think there is a ‘right’ time for job search. So do it when you’re free, and post the Level 2 June exam seems like a good idea. Job search takes time, and the more feedback you get, the better chance you have. The new post today may help @vincentt.

    • vincentt
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      @sophie that’s definitely a brilliant article, have just read it and will bookmark that for post exam 😀

    • Sophie Macon
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      @sophie that’s definitely a brilliant article, have just read it and will bookmark that for post exam 😀

      All written for you guys 🙂

    • Marc
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      I started my MBA program as a dreaded “career-changer”. Worse, I wasn’t an engineer. Worse still, my degrees were is, ahem, social sciences (I can hardly type those words for shame). Worst of all, I had been working in the civil service (ie. I was a bureaucrat). So, it’s safe to say that I started with at least 4 strikes against me.

      When I walked onto campus the first day, I hadn’t heard of the CFA program. In fact, I didn’t even know what “time value of money” was. It soon became apparent that doing an MBA was a useless exercise unless you were getting the letters after you name so you could get a promotion (in which case, taking first year finance, or first year anything, was like going back to grade school). Being able to say you had an MBA mean nothing because, what if you had taken all marketing or basket-weaving courses? To have any hope of getting any kind of job outside the fast-food industry, you basically had to have been born on Bay Street (Canada’s Wall Street) and done nothing but bond valuations since about the time you learned to walk. Moreover, if you didn’t have a CFA to back up your MBA, you were effectively making a giant contribution to your university without the benefit of a tax receipt.

      I was a bit resentful of this and I struggled mightily with stats, economics, accounting and, especially, finance (basically anything covered in the CFA program) in first year. They just kicked the crap out of me. But then a strange realization came over me. First, in spite of everything, I was still standing and I didn’t want to give anyone the ability to say “well, he came to his MBA, but he couldn’t manage real business school courses, so once he did the mandatory classes, he took the easy electives in second year and did an MBA-light.” If I had been at all interested in one of the “softer” concentrations, I might have thought differently. But I had a second, even stranger, realization. I was realized that I was suffering form Stockholm Syndrome, because I started developing an attachment to my captors. I actually LIKED this stuff and I WANTED to learn more. There was also the practical consideration that, coming from a non-finance background, I wanted to prove that I didn’t have an MBA-light. I wanted the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that could only be obtained by doing the CFA program.

      To make a very long story shorter, all my second year electives were in the “Investment Banking” concentration, I wrote Level 1 in December 2007 and Level 2 in March 2008. Then life happened. My wife and I moved 4 times and live in 3 cities on 2 continents withing 2.5 years (you may recall a certain finacial crisis). Once we finally settled on a place to live (funny thing, it was the same place we were when we started our nomadic adventure), we got settled in our careers, bought a house and had kids (not necessarily in that order). Then I woke up one day and said, “There’s nothing forcing me to write Level 3, but I’ve done the first two levels and it seems like a waste not to finish this.”

      And that is why I’m here today. In retrospect, I should have just gone with “because it’s there.”

    • Sophie Macon
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      @Marc good to hear your side of things.

      Well, social sciences isn’t that shameful! But what I don’t fully get is why MBA isn’t useful for your career change?

    • Marc
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      I didn’t explain that well. What I was trying to say is that Business Schools absolutely love people who do a commerce or engineering undergrad, work for a large employer such as a bank, then come do an MBA in order to step up to the next level. It’s a super easy story to understand and it makes it very easy for them to achieve their ultimate objective, which, of course is providing students with a quality educat… (sorry, I almost typed that entire sentence without laughing)… setting their graduates up with a plum job.

      Deans and profs talk about “diversity” and “lateral thinking”, and they must believe it to a degree because they get their schools to admit people from “non-traditional” backgrounds. But for the career advisers and other administrative personnel, someone who says “Well, I was doing this, but I decided that I wanted to do something different and an MBA would teach me new skills and broaden my horizons and I’m really excited to take some classes and discover what I enjoy…” is someone who doesn’t fit into a mold and therefore someone who is going to make their job difficult.

      The best analogy I can think of is Burger King. I think their slogan used to be “Have it your way” (ie. come to Burger King, order exactly what you want, we are different than the other guys because we don’t just give you a pre-package assembly line burger). But when you go to Burger King and order a Whopper with no ketchup and pickles, but do put on barbecue sauce, the person taking your order gives you a look that says: “Why didn’t you just order a regular Whopper like the last 10 people?”

      From a student’s perspective, and MBA is a good (if expensive) way to change careers, but I highly recommend developing at least some idea of what you ultimately what to get out of it (beyond “a job”) and be prepared for the reality that these programs were not really created with you in mind.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Deans and profs talk about “diversity” and “lateral thinking”, and they must believe it to a degree because they get their schools to admit people from “non-traditional” backgrounds. But for the career advisers and other administrative personnel, someone who says “Well, I was doing this, but I decided that I wanted to do something different and an MBA would teach me new skills and broaden my horizons and I’m really excited to take some classes and discover what I enjoy…” is someone who doesn’t fit into a mold and therefore someone who is going to make their job difficult.

      I get what you mean on this – talking vs. doing what you preach are very different things. I’m glad you’re past that now and nearly there with CFA!

    • Zee Tan
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      In retrospect, I should have just gone with “because it’s there.”

      “Because it’s there” sums it up for me as well @Marc! I started my CFA journey when I was active in the finance industry but as my CFA program progressed my career changes brought me further and further away from finance. I still pushed to finish Level 3 and I’m really glad I did! I see quite a few friends that dropped out after completing Level 1 and I always feel that’s such a waste.

    • AjFinance
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      I didn’t explain that well. What I was trying to say is that Business Schools absolutely love people who do a commerce or engineering undergrad, work for a large employer such as a bank, then come do an MBA in order to step up to the next level. It’s a super easy story to understand and it makes it very easy for them to achieve their ultimate objective, which, of course is providing students with a quality educat… (sorry, I almost typed that entire sentence without laughing)… setting their graduates up with a plum job.

      Deans and profs talk about “diversity” and “lateral thinking”, and they must believe it to a degree because they get their schools to admit people from “non-traditional” backgrounds. But for the career advisers and other administrative personnel, someone who says “Well, I was doing this, but I decided that I wanted to do something different and an MBA would teach me new skills and broaden my horizons and I’m really excited to take some classes and discover what I enjoy…” is someone who doesn’t fit into a mold and therefore someone who is going to make their job difficult.

      The best analogy I can think of is Burger King. I think their slogan used to be “Have it your way” (ie. come to Burger King, order exactly what you want, we are different than the other guys because we don’t just give you a pre-package assembly line burger). But when you go to Burger King and order a Whopper with no ketchup and pickles, but do put on barbecue sauce, the person taking your order gives you a look that says: “Why didn’t you just order a regular Whopper like the last 10 people?”

      From a student’s perspective, and MBA is a good (if expensive) way to change careers, but I highly recommend developing at least some idea of what you ultimately what to get out of it (beyond “a job”) and be prepared for the reality that these programs were not really created with you in mind.


      @Marc
      One word, “Brilliant”. There aren’t many people you can get to speak about the “other” lesser known side of MBA programs. Not saying that people don’t benefit from MBAs, they do a lot, especially when they do it from the right place and more importantly, when they know the answer to “Why”. But you often only hear about the positives, without any sign of negative.

    • lulu123
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      @marc

      what University did you study at, if not a secret?

    • Marc
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      @lulu123

      University of Toronto (Rotman), but I feel safe in saying that this is not confined to my alma mater.

      Also, I very much enjoyed doing my MBA and I would do it all over again. I’m just saying that people need to be aware of what they are about to get into.

    • sankrutimehta
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      I have had back office experience am looking for structuring and modeling opportunities or research…anyone who can help PM me
      I am based in India but open to travel!!

    • jerome
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      I don’t have a college degree…. I head MBS research at a boutique analytics firm and my competition are some of the most well recognized analysts in the field, so I feel like I need some kind of credentials when many of my peers have PhDs from top 10 schools.

    • Sophie Macon
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      Awesome @jerome. Getting to where you are at the moment is itself a great achievement, well done! Thanks for sharing your story with us 🙂

    • wm247
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      Well, my background is from physics education and not from finance, but I have long been interested in investment after reading ‘the Intelligent Investor’ by Benjamin Graham. From Investopedia, I learned about how Graham founded all this CFA stuffs, and then I think to myself ‘hell, let’s make a leap of faith’.

      People in my country think I’m nuts, switching from physics to finance after earning my Masters degree, but I have faith in myself. I know CFA exam is a no piece of cake, but I also know that there was one professional who only had high school degree and never went to college, but still successfully earned his CFA charterholder at the end. If he can do it, so can I. 🙂

    • Sophie Macon
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      Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with the community @wm247‌! And yes, having a finance background is not a pre-requisite for CFA (in fact CFA itself is in place to put all of us on the same level playing field really). In fact, there’s some evidence by 300hours that having no finance background is beneficial for cfa studies 🙂

      I think it takes courage to pursue what you want in life, regardless your situation. Don’t let the nay-sayers prevent you from achieving your goals! 🙂

    • tng2928
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      @wm247 don’t think that’s nuts.. but going the other way would seem pretty cray (CFA to Masters/PhD physics). If you have that interest in finance/business, you’ll pick up the jargon pretty quickly and find motivation in reading the material (that the average person would find dry and dreadful), good luck

    • wm247
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      Sophie said:
      Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with the community @wm247‌! And yes, having a finance background is not a pre-requisite for CFA (in fact CFA itself is in place to put all of us on the same level playing field really). In fact, there’s some evidence by 300hours that having no finance background is beneficial for cfa studies 🙂

      I think it takes courage to pursue what you want in life, regardless your situation. Don’t let the nay-sayers prevent you from achieving your goals! 🙂

      Actually I started gaining real financial experience this year as I
      left my old job as a physics teacher and joined a small brokerage
      company as a junior analyst. Sometimes I feel aloof there, not only as the eldest
      one in the division, but also as the least skillful at the same time. I’m
      also taking weekend CFA prep class throughout the year to better prepare
      myself for Dec exam (and still facing the same sneering attitude from
      my colleagues who think I’m the wrong guy at the wrong time and the
      wrong place, while wasting my energy with all that pipe-dream CFA
      rubbish!). It’s really not easy for me at this point, Sophie.

      Oh
      well, just like one guy once said: “If they’re not cool to me when I’m
      weak and powerless, and I also won’t be cool to them when I’m successful
      and powerful.”

    • Maverick
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      I’m after it as I currently work in private client wealth management and advisory. In all honesty it very much too sales for me and not enough analysis and asset management. I have a good grasp of financial concepts and slowly seemed to become the ‘go-to man’ in the office for any technical questions on products, portfolio allocation and weighting and suchlike. I’d like to get out of the sales game and into professional portfolio analysis and asset management, so the CFA charter seemed to be the natural path to follow.

      Out of interest, how do people find it to gain jobs out there once either holding the charter, or being an advanced (Level 2 or 3) candidate if you have an ‘incomplete’ educational history. I.e. Higher education / university (college as you US guys call it)?

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