Career/Life Question (CFA,etc.)

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by NBPR6, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. NBPR6


    I've been a prop trader for almost the last 2 years, and man has it been a crazy ride of highs and lows. However, I think I've reached a point where I need to make some decisions.

    I won't say that I've been the best trader. I also won't say that I've been the worst, but I'm good enough to know where I stand and understand what it takes to continue down this road. Unfortunately, this path is starting to look hazy.

    I love everything about trading, I love doing the research, I love the mentality you need to succeed, the entrepreneurship, everything. However, I do know that I have risk management issues that can make or break me, and I don't know if it is something that I can fully overcome.

    I can't see myself doing anything else but trade, but there must be opportunities out there that support it or have similar aspects. However, from the research that I've done regarding a CFA I've seemed to have confused myself even more.

    I don't mind the commitment needed for the CFA, but I'd like to know that the commitment is worth something. I've done a search and most of the CFA threads are dated 2 years ago.

    What are some opportunities available for someone who has completed level 1? I guess what I'm trying to ask is what are some keyword/titles that I should be searching for with a CFA that is related to trading(I know there are equity research/analyst positions and portfolio management, but is there anything else).

    Also, there are mixed reviews of the value of a CFA. Half the people find it to be a prestigious worthwhile designation while the other half appears to have a worthless view of it. Obviously it depends on what you want to do, but how is it as a supplement to a BA degree from a respectable state school (just not top tier).

    I don't want to end my trading career, and I don't want to stray too far away from it, but it is something I feel I need to do to improve my way of life based on current conditions and my own personal limitations. Thanks.
  2. NBPR6


    Or to simplify what else can I do other than trading that would be on the front line and not in the back.
  3. NBPR6


    my options

    1) I quit now and start studying for the CFA in June and maybe come back to trading after I've passed the exam and trade while I look for another job (but I find that to be a little stupid to come back on a temporary bases. I feel like if I'm going to trade that's what I should do and plan to do)

    2) I continue trading until August and make a final decision then if I want to call it quits and sit for the exam in December

    What's stopping me from fully committing to a plan is

    1) If i quit now I'll pretty much close the book on my trading career, and this has been my dream job and something that I've always wanted to do even before going to school. I know that I'm right there on the brink of becoming a good trader, but I'm just having issues breaking through the last obstacle, and it's something that really concerns me. I know what I have to do and what I need to do, but it's one of those things that I'm not so sure if I can fully overcome.

    The other problem, is I'm not really sure where I'd go with this(CFA), what I'd really want to do. I want to feel like if I'm going to do something, that it's something I really want to do or know what to do. I don't really care how hard I need to work as long as there is something to show for it (whether it be monetary or just enjoying what I do).

    2) The problem with this option is if I don't make it to August, I'm going to be wasting a lot of time on nothing. The other problem is even if I make it to August then decide to take the CFA or decide to continue trading that I will either be delaying the inevitable or I will be putting myself in a position where I'm going to need to pass level 1 in December then jump right into level 2 for June and look for a job at the same time. Might be a little too much to deal with it all in such a short time.

    My priorities:
    1) making money
    2) enjoying what I do
    3) job security
    4) job benefits
    5) job location

    I definitely want to do something with the markets, and I'd rather be on the front line than in the back. Other than trading I'm not sure what else I could do that would be as involved.
  4. rwk


    If, as you state in the OP, your problem is risk management, then you might not be a close to becoming a good trader as you think. All trading problems are ultimately psychological. You might get some benefit from working with a shrink who specializes in coaching traders.

    From the way you describe financial analysis, that doesn't seem like a good choice. Either you're a trader or you're not. If you are a trader, you won't be happy in a non-trading job such as CFA. A better choice would be to get a well-paying job, such as auto mechanic, and do trading in your free time.

  5. digdeep


    I think 2 years of trading experience with some success is a great start to a trading career... I personally would focus all of my attention and energy on learning risk management - as you say that is your biggest weakness.

    I don't think this is the best time to be getting a CFA and trying to break into Wall Street... so I think it will be a wasted effort to go after it.

    Not to mention... CFA is three years of tests, 2.5 years if you take level I and level II in Jan and June respectively... and you'll need 5-7 years experience before being awarded the charter.

    If you really want to go the corporate route - I would study for the GMAT - get into a top MBA program and use that degree and networking to get you into a good job. You could study for the CFA while in school - as many of the MBA classes and CFA study material will be redundant.

    I have taken (and passed) Level I CFA, and began studying for Level II -
    I think the whole charter is a complete scam... it teaches people to be like minded and think inside a box; it 's annual dues are exorbitantly high, and CFA's are a dime a dozen any more... no notoriety or prestige in that charter.

    The CFA is not going to be any quick fix for you - it won't open that many doors, and the effort studying for it can be much better spent learning how to trade...
  6. 1) Among your priorities; 2, 3, 4 & 5 are a by-product of 1.
    2) Be more specific about your "issue" with risk management.
    3) It'll probably be better to have a job AND THEN study for the CFA exams. It's the old "experience before education" adage.
    4) Focus on trading and do not contemplate getting out of it nor quitting. Otherwise, you're not fully commited by imagining or creating a way out of it.
    5) As long as the stock market feels "bearish", it'll be that much tougher to get a job.
    6) Try to stay motivated with a sense of confidence instead of a sense of fear. Concentrate on the things that attracted you to trading in the first place. :cool:
  7. slacker


    But CFA is much more respected than CMT and other qualifications. Are there any qualifications that mean anything during hiring? Is the default simply to trade alone or get an MBA? Has anyone been hired for a job that they would not have received without one of these qualifications? If you have one of these qualifications, would you do it again, or would you have worked for another qualification instead? Thanks
  8. digdeep


    In my experience, I worked as a buy-side equity analyst for a small boutique money manager for 3 years after graduating with a B.S. (I had taken the Level I CFA prior to being hired), the CFA alone is not getting anybody a job - particularly in this market where the financial industry is flooded with qualified, experienced and skilled applicants. Furthermore, anybody with a CFA is competing with 100 other guys with CFA's who have an MBA from Univ of Chicago, Yale, Harvard, etc...

    If you are going to get the CFA and you are choosing to compete with that crowd - in that setting - it would behoove you to get a top notch MBA.
  9. This is so true. One reason to take the CMT over the CFA program is that the knowledge you learn may actually help you in your trading, as opposed to the CFA which may help you in your investing. Important distinction.
  10. TheBird


    Someone asked for input from those with an MBA. I earned my MBA in IT in 2001. I'm only a part time options trader (for my own personal investments) so what I'm going to say may not apply to the professional trading arena.

    However, I went to school at night for 10 years to earn first my BS-Accounting and then my MBA. It wasn't a top tier school but I can say I have gotten jobs/opportunities that would not have been available without my MBA. It has opened doors for me professionally, plus (the most important factor) it improved my thinking processes and problem solving approaches.

    Every $$ I spent and every late nite was totally, completely worth it and I would do it again, definately . And, I was over 40 when I earned my MBA, so it wasn't a walk in the park either.

    Education is something that is an investment in your future, not an expense. That's my input.
    #10     Feb 17, 2009