Need advice: Can't break into IB/PE for lack of experience despite CFA

Took me years to finally get the full CFA charter.

I want to get into IB/PE but I don't have the exact investment experience and it's been 10 years since I graduated from college (all working in some other fields).

So despite my CFA, I still can't break into IB/PE for lack of relevant experience, not even small shops. Really disappointing.

Any advice/help?


Don't have miraculous advice, just here to say I'm in a similar situation in a different industry (project/infrastructure finance; I've been in the industry for a couple of years, but jobs thus far haven't provided solid modelling experience, making it difficult to land other roles). Sharing some things I've done that've at least landed me interviews: 

- Completing some online modelling coursework

- Writing an investment thesis/outlook for a company (with an accompanying model as a boost) 

- Following (read: not necessarily connecting) with recruiters on LinkedIn to learn about opportunities

- Being willing to start at a smaller firm (to gain relevant experience, though this depends on your current life obligations as well)

- Connecting with current PE professionals on LinkedIn and striking up a conversation to learn about opportunities at their firm or elsewhere, and staying in touch (it's a numbers game, you'll get some hits, mostly misses)

Hope some of this helps.

Most Helpful

Hey, pal. Classic mistake. CFA does not have that much weight for IB. Sure, it gives you some chops for managing a portfolio but you have to break-in as an Analyst/Associate, which requires a different skill-set. In places like India, you will see people wrapping up CFA, FRM, and an MBA - and still landing anywhere but in IB. I guess you are in a different job market. But the underlying theme is common - CFA is not the perfect ladder to wherever you want to be. Process that and then move on to shifting gears.

You can either:

a. Get an MBA: This is quite easy to understand. Go to the best program you can break into, network your ass off, and you might land an IB gig. Do not be picky and you should be able to break in. 

b. Or, Lateral: I am increasingly seeing a trend of Valuation or Transaction Advisory folks from Big 4 shops breaking into MM IB. Maybe that's just observation bias - for every one of these folks breaking into IB there must be a dozen who never hit the escape velocity. Anywho. 

With a decade of experience, you should actually ask yourself - why do you want to be in IB/PE? Is it because you want to be on the investing side of things? There can be other ways to get there. Work at a Family Office or a boutique research shop or a PE-acquired firm in the Finance team - you might have to get creative. For instance, Canalyst is a data analytics platform in Canada and they have an Equity Research team. You might have to locate such niche opportunities and grab them with full force. 

Think about this as taking a tangential route to break in, instead of diving head-first - you will not get a ton of chances like this but you can still give it a shot. 

Keep us posted. Cheers. 


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