Yet another career advice thread: equity research path path vs. financial engineering pathO
I've been doing a lot of reading on this forum and others, and am preparing for a career change into finance. My background is in electrical engineering, and I have a BS EECS from Cal and a MSEE from Stanford. I'm 34, and have about 12 years of experience in chip design/high-tech, so programming isn't a problem for me. (I'm familiar with Matlab though I have to brush up on my C++.)
I've been an investor since I started working and a full time day trader this past year, hence my interest in the markets and naturally, finance. I am San Francisco based and would prefer to stay in the area, but won't have a problem moving if need be. I know that it is really hard to break into finance right now, but I have to try to pursue my passion.
From what I can see, I can proceed along two paths:
1. Get a 1 year FT MS in finance and study for the CFA PT, try for a junior equity research or portfolio management position, naturally covering high-tech at first. (I'm debating the MBA because at my age I would prefer a 1 year FT program over a 2 year program.)
2. Get a 1 year FT MFE and go the quant/programming route. Will also try for CFA level 1 before I start the program, and maybe other levels later. This path directly leverages my technical background the best, though I’m worried about being pigeon-holed later.
I'm interested in either career. Can anyone provide any comments or advice on the career potential of either path based on what you have experienced so far?
From what I understand:
1. Most positions are in NY, though in SF there are PM positions for private wealth management and some quant positions for hedge funds. Companies in SF are Barclays global and Dodge and Cox, etc./
2. Junior PMs/ERs start at around 60-70k + bonus while junior FE's start in the 6 figures + bonus.
So, my questions are:
1. Is my understanding of the salaries for each position correct? What is a reasonable/typical salary for each position after 5 years?
2. What is the current job market for each position? I've heard that ER positions have been decimated while they are currently still hiring entry level FEs. I also heard that it is easier to get into a middle office role (risk?) than a front office role.
3. What do you think the long term potential is for either position in terms of job stability and transitional opportunities within the field?
thanks a lot for your advice!