There’s an interesting letter in the career adviser column of today’s Sunday Times.
Basically, the letter writer in his 20s is asking if it is worthwhile taking the chartered financial analyst (CFA) exams. He is considering switching from his engineering career to a finance/investment one.
The adviser’s answer is that all things equal, passing the CFA exams should help. But at the same time, many successful professionals in the banking and finance industry do not hold a CFA title. (Why so?)
The adviser goes on to say:
There are 2 routes you can take… seek a job in the sector now… (or) stay put in your current job.
My recommendation is that since he’s young, he should try to get a position in the finance industry immediately. In fact, there’s currently a shortage of staff in areas such as risk management (due to Basel II implementation, etc). Then, after gaining some experience, he should look for a better position with another firm, after 1 or 2 years.
It helps a lot if he has friends working in the banking and finance industry. Recommendations and referrals are common – in fact, they are the first channel to get people in.
Finally, I personally think that getting a good job in the finance industry is much harder than passing the CFA exams or even getting an additional degree (MBA, Master in Financial Engineering, etc). I hope you get what I mean.