Will having the CFA help me break in?

I want to make a career change to the equity research industry. I've been working in the wealth management industry for the last 3 years and I don't enjoy it. I find most of my days reading the news, following the markets, and trading which is not relevant for my current role. I've managed to tackle the first 2 levels of the CFA during my time here. Will this help me transition given I have no relevant experience outside my personal interest in the markets and investing? Looking for any advice on breaking in.

Comments (15)

Jan 4, 2022 - 11:17am

I thought about doing this but was then directed not to. I was told it wouldn't benefit me much and it would more than likely hurt my chances. I am very conflicted. 

Jan 4, 2022 - 11:31am

You should crowdsource opinions on that advice you got here and see whether that's right. 

I really struggle to see how having a well thought-out pitch and a three-statement model with forecasted drives can hurt your chance of landing an equity research role. 

Jan 4, 2022 - 12:26pm

Whoever told you not to do this is a moron. You have to think about what your being hired to do as an associate and show to the hiring team that you have the skills to do it. The majority of the time you spend as an associate is building/maintaining models, and writing up notes. Now if you do a shitty job on your model/pitch, it will hurt you. But if you prove you can make a model that works and flows and makes sense, and a pitch that sounds somewhat intelligent and has an opinion that can be argued, then you will find a seat (it will take time as there are more candidates than seats so it comes down to having the basic skills then finding the right fit). 

Jan 4, 2022 - 12:29pm

And to answer your original question. The CFA will get you more looks (HR personal screen resumes before the hiring team and they are "impressed" by CFA), the hiring team will care more that you can actually do the job. I have interviewed lots of "career switch" CFA's who got it because they test well but had no idea what any of the concepts mean and couldn't answer the simplest question about the financial statements. 

Jan 4, 2022 - 12:45pm

Thanks for your response. I think I will take your advice and others on here with putting together a report to pass along to analysts. I have personal experience putting together models, so definitely comfortable putting together a report. I have a pitch ready in the event of an interview coming up, but I haven't really put together a structured report.. yet. Since you seem knowledgeable in this area, do you have any insights into the length and content I should include in the pitch?  

Most Helpful
Jan 4, 2022 - 1:05pm

Think of it as writing down your pitch. While some people try to make a longer "initiating coverage" type report, think that is a waste of time and no one will read past page 1, so just write a really good page 1. It should include things like: your thesis, what are people missing or a "why now" piece, what are the catalysts, what are the risks/where could you be wrong, some valuation math (depends on type of company but for a cyclical industrial for example what are historic trading bands, where is it trading now and what part of the cycle are we at).

On the model, would stress that most important pieces are your revenue build (how do they segment it out, product vs geography, growth, margins etc...), and making sure the model is "flexible" and by that I mean if I add $100m in debt or Capex somewhere will it throw the BS/CFS out of whack of will it flow. Less important but will be nice differentiator is clear formatting. My personal pet peeve is things like G&A being actually driven and not just % of revenue

Jan 4, 2022 - 11:32am

Will it get you the job? Idk. But it will certainly help. Considering you're 2/3 of the way done, power through it. (not in ER but getting the CFA def helped me stand out and progress forward)

Re post about having a write up and model, I guess I understand both sides. I think the fear some have is that with time, you develop and harden your own way of thinking + modeling, and firm XYZ will want to teach you their way. So showing your cards may hurt more than help.   

At the least, have a few pitches in mind and be able to explain what will drive the stock. Being able to point out what matters amid all the noise is important imo





  • 1
Jan 4, 2022 - 12:47pm

thanks! I have put together a couple pitches with the intent of being asked to pitch a stock in an interview, which sounds like an inevitable. I guess putting it in writing and distributing it may be a good idea. 

Jan 4, 2022 - 2:16pm

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