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CFA Charterholder - Career Change and options to explore (UK) ?

C_Lee16C_Lee16 Posts: 1 New Hire
edited September 2017 in Careers & Networking
Hi all,

I was hoping for some career advice regarding what my options are at this stage of my career and areas I could explore given my experience to date. Some headhunters have contacted me in the past regarding roles in ALM and Treasury but my mind, at that time, was fixated on typical CFA type roles such as investment analysts and assistant portfolio/fund managers. Each time I look at the latter roles, relevant experience becomes increasingly a necessary requirement and I have been told my experience is lacking compared with other candidates. So I am considering other options to further my career. Honest answer is, I don't quite know Associate/AVP roles I can explore given with what I have. Some will no doubt be more likely than others and it would be of great help if I can better understand what is out there. In the end, a varied role that pays well for what you do (given the hours) with potential to move up and further options down the line would be ideal to get started.

My career to date is a little unusual. I am a first class Mathematics graduate from a top 10 but did not seriously think about my career until afterwards. Recession hit and I managed to secure an analyst position at a mortgage lender. This was not in the City. I pursued the CFA qualification at the same time as I started due to my interest in finance and investments. My goal then was to get qualified so I stayed at my firm because the experience was relevant. I got qualified last year and the only path left for me is to go from Senior to Manager in Pricing (loan and mortgage products).

Experience wise (6 years in total), as a junior, I primarily analysed and reported the performance of the firm's asset portfolios to clients as well as building tools to make the process more efficient. A year later, as Quantiative Analyst, I was active in the cash flow valuation of mortgage portfolios where clients requested my firm's portfolio valuation services so that they can bid for such portfolios under auction. Additionally, my firm was also active in the securitisation space where I developed and managed the reporting and analysis of several securitised portfolios. The business environment changed and the only option for me was in a Pricing role. Here, I pretty much built the firm's pricing cash flow models (IRR, NPV, DCF, EIR) to evaluate loan products and owned the pricing MI reporting process. And now as senior (nearly 3 years), as well as supervising juniors, I think more commercial on the impacts of pricing changes and strategies and provide input to management. Occasionally, I build financial models to evaluate investment opportunities (portfolio acquisition opportunities) using investment appraisal methods such as NPV, IRR, RoE etc.

This, to me, is entirely different from the typical research analyst or portfolio manager position that CFA Charterholders tend to be concentrated in. The more I think about this, the more difficult it is looking. I feel that I am not utilising the CFA materials much at all in my current role and my firm is unlikely to open a new position that allows that. I don't feel as motivated or challenged as I was and this is starting to affect my motivation.

The above is my honest account. Can anyone relate to this? Love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

  • Hi @C_Lee16

    Just to clarify what your ideal objective is:
    • Are you specifically looking for a role that is in fund management / research only? Or;
    • Are you looking to further your career, achieving good pay per hour and a good career path, regardless of finance industry?
    I'm going to assume the latter. Unfortunately your problem is not a unique one - I think as we progress in experience, if we become disillusioned with our particular niche industry it is hard to switch gears without compromising one way or another.

    I had about 7 years in asset management but long story short, didn't really enjoy where my career path was going. I found the same challenges you did - as an experienced hire, although it was easier to find a job within my industry, it was hard to switch industries. I chose to take some time off instead, and although pay took a hit since, I discovered that 1. pay is wildly overrated and 2. life happiness and time to pursue other things, although not strictly quantifiable, are very valuable as well.

    Some tips that I learned that might help you on switching industries:
    • Don't rely on headhunters. They are incentivized to just place you wherever, so naturally they will just feed you roles within your industry because they're most likely to close the deal with these roles. They're not going to spend time catering to your aspirations.
    • Explore related industries. Based on the info you shared on your experience, perhaps REITs, family offices, finance startups (there are lots of mortgage / real estate focused ones in UK/London) might offer a gear change.
    • Explore corporate. Any company has finance roles as well, and sometimes they can pay top dollar for finance guys because they struggle to attract talent. Having a look off the well-beaten path can pay very well.
    When things get too tough, sit back with a nice bottle of red wine and remind yourself how inconsequential things are.
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