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Career in Fixed Income, Structured Products

Hi Guys,

I'm a CFA Level 3 candidate. I've around 4.5 years of work experience, but thats more in a back office kind of role. Not employed currently but I would like to pursue a career in Fixed Income. Precisely speaking, the world of structured products and distressed finance investing interests me. I also like to follow the sovereign bond markets. I know that getting into a profile that deals with structured products can be challenging. Just wanted to know whats the kind of career progression and roles one can expect within the aforementioned job profiles. What kind of roles can I look upto which can help me transition into those roles smoothly? Also, would a masters in finance with electives in those specified areas help? Any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance :)
“Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.”—Jiro Ono
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mikey

Comments

  • christinechristine On the movePosts: 629 Sr Portfolio Manager
    @Sophie has a wealth of experience here - I'm sure she'll weigh in soon.

    From what I know:

    Structured products hire grads in the UK, so unless you're looking to come in as a super experienced hire, I wouldn't worry too much about background. Background is really time-consuming to evolve as well!

    I would advice networking, cold-calling and a lot of CV-sending - extremely ungratifying as an exercise but completely necessary. Many people fail because of this.

    The CFA exams give you a great background in terms of knowledge to be able to verse well and talk shop during interviews - if you're a L3 you should be more than fine. It's not necessarily valued like, say, in asset management though.

    You will need to understand the products that your role will be interacting with - this is super important. You will need to understand the buzzwords, the latest trends, be able to hold your own and have your own opinions in these conversations because they will come up in interviews. The best way to accomplish this is to speak to someone who's is in the biz - I'd hit up LinkedIn and try and make connections from there (see who is a friend of a friend, etc).

    Career progression - obviously you can move up the ranks in your team, or you can move to a corporate (i.e. do the same thing but for a large corporate in an in-house team), or move to insurance or some specialized AMs.

    Hope that helps! :)
    AjFinance
  • Thanks a lot Christine ^:)^ .Well, I have kept my options open. It helps to narrow down your likes and dislikes to a specific point, but I believe one should narrow choices down to a range of options (confidence interval if you may :P ) rather than one single option. So I have filtered down to areas which fall in the same broad category but are different individually. I'm fine with getting into whichever profile comes my way after CFA, but my long term plan is to get into one of those options. The only problem is that Fixed income market is not much developed in my country. But I suppose I'll find a way around that. ;)
    “Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.”—Jiro Ono
    mikey
  • christinechristine On the movePosts: 629 Sr Portfolio Manager
    You can always move to a different country ;)
  • Hi @AjFinance! good to see you around :)

    I agree (and am glad!) that you are having such a sensible approach to searching for the job you want, specificity here helps (shows you did some homework).

    @Christine has many good points on job hunting, so I wouldn't elaborate on that. Point is you have to hunt for it, relying on headhunters alone isn't sufficient.

    Just a thought on your sectors of interest:

    Structured products vs. distressed finance investing. I never usually think of which is "in vogue", but structured products market as you know has fallen out of favour since the crisis started. The market has shrank so has the jobs that is associated with it. Distressed finance investing however is on the rise (counter cyclical after all), therefore you may have a better chance in that. Besides it involves a broader range of skillset applicable to CFA (company/sector valuation etc) and transferable to other career paths later on (private equity, corporate finance, strategy etc); whilst structured products is a very niche/specialised area. That may be the way to go in terms of maximising chance of job search?

    On taking another masters: personally I think CFA + Masters in Finance is an overkill. Possibly a lot of overlap without much added value. You should be confident enough to hustle (yes, hustle) for jobs now since you're so near to becoming a charterholder now. I always prefer work experience to finance knowledge. It's always practice over theory for me.
    AjFinancemikey
  • Thanks a lot for your inputs Sophie :) . What is your take on Fixed Income Asset Management as a career? What specific skill sets should I look to develop in addition to clearing the CFA exam? Also, do you work in Fixed income management yourself. Was just curious since Christine pointed out that you have a wealth of experience in the area.
    “Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.”—Jiro Ono
  • Thanks for this guys - really useful thread!
  • AjFinance said:

    Thanks a lot for your inputs Sophie :) . What is your take on Fixed Income Asset Management as a career? What specific skill sets should I look to develop in addition to clearing the CFA exam? Also, do you work in Fixed income management yourself. Was just curious since Christine pointed out that you have a wealth of experience in the area.

    @AjFinance - I'm not in AM myself, but I have considered it (hence reason for CFA). @Christine mentioned that as I have the most varied experience in finance: running from capital markets to corporate finance to in-house strategy, plus my natural curiosity to explore all continuum of finance roles. I even considered trading, but realised my math brain was too slow and I'd be too stressed for that kinda role :P

    In terms of skillset for AM, I think being CFA qualified is a great start. Next is probably interview skills (see the "How to Be Awesome of Job Hunting series", and things you're already doing such as market observation, having an opinion of economic/stocks etc. Those are probably topics in interviews when you can have the freedom to express what areas of AM you're interested in.
  • @Sophie thanks again. It helps to hear from a seasoned professional ;) I'm not a math wizard myself, but I had vaguely heard that Fixed Income requires quant skills. Maybe they were referring to Quant Finance within Fixed Income or HFT X_X
    “Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.”—Jiro Ono
  • christinechristine On the movePosts: 629 Sr Portfolio Manager
    AjFinance said:

    @Sophie thanks again. It helps to hear from a seasoned professional ;) I'm not a math wizard myself, but I had vaguely heard that Fixed Income requires quant skills. Maybe they were referring to Quant Finance within Fixed Income or HFT X_X

    I doubt they mean they need someone with a quantitative qualification, just someone who is good in math. Which is unavoidable in finance :)

  • @AjFinance @Sophie: Great read!!
    @AjFinance: Jumping into this a bit late..but I have had 2 years experience into middle office of fixed income derivatives..I believe in the FI world..in addition to CFA..reading up a bit on fiscal and monetary policies or a little bit of economics would help..plus a good knowledge of the products (If u are keen on the derivatives side) would be an added advantage. Again I back @Sophie that experience would play an important role...u could add to your knowledge by reading books rather than some full time degree that would not allow u to gain experience:D
    Sophie
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