Stepping Stones to Asset Management

econ's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,667

If I can't get a job in AM right after graduation, what jobs would allow me to break into AM within the next few years? Would jobs in corporate finance work? What about stuff that's not in finance, but is analytical, such as market research? Would finance sales jobs allow me to make the transition? Or could I take just about any business job, study for the CFA and break in? Basically, my five-year plan is to be in Asset Management, and I'm wondering what roads lead there in case I can't break in straight out of school.

Comments (95)

Nov 6, 2009

Read the Vault Guide on Investment Management. The info there will be more accurate than most stuff you will find on the net.

To kind of answer your question: there are all kinds entry points into AM, depending on the AM firm you're looking at. Best places to look i think for you would be firms with a hi 'turn over' rate for employees like state street, fidelity, capital group, etc and the smaller regional firms in your area. Working in back office support while pursuing CFA would do the trick 2-5 yrs down the line also, from what i gather. 2-5 yrs working in finance -> MBA -> AM career is another long term route. But take that with a grain of salt, I am not an AM career expert.

man made the money, money never made the man

Nov 6, 2009

What kind of AM are you talking about? Its a very wide field.

Nov 6, 2009
LAWM:

What kind of AM are you talking about? Its a very wide field.

I was thinking of firms that invest for high net worth individuals, but I'm not 100% stuck on working in such a firm, rather that's just the image that pops in mind when I think of asset management. Regional firms that invest in equities, bonds, fund of funds, etc. on behalf of wealthy individuals (and maybe even institutions).

If I haven't directly answered your question, maybe you could break down the classifications for me, and then I could get a better sense of what the categorizations are like in this industry, and give a better response.

Nov 6, 2009

High net worth individuals = wealth management / PWM / Private banking. Then comes the question: what exactly do you want to do within this realm. Are you into sales, investment consulting, capital markets, product development, due diligence etc...

I know you mention something analytical, some of these are analytical, others are not. Again, if you are looking for modelling experience, you will not get it in this position. If you ultimately end up in the middle markets division of a bb wealth operation (if available), you will be exposed to modelling.

Nov 6, 2009
LAWM:

High net worth individuals = wealth management / PWM / Private banking.

I would probably even be happy at mutual funds, hedge funds, fund of funds, etc. Honestly, I'm less worried about where I'm working and more worried about what I'm doing (and since I'm a newb, it's not exactly clear to me what I'd be doing at various places).

LAWM:

Then comes the question: what exactly do you want to do within this realm. Are you into sales, investment consulting, capital markets, product development, due diligence etc...

I think this question is easier for me to answer (relative to the "where" question). I definitely don't want to do sales (unless it's just a stepping stone to something more analytical). In the short-term (like within 5 years) I want to be an analyst or researcher in some capacity. I'd like to support/assist those who make direct investment decisions for the company. Depending on the firm, I'm thinking stuff like equity research, fixed income research, compiling information on potential investments, due diligence, or whatever else they'll let me help with. From there, I'd hope to learn the business, network, study for the CFA and/or CAIA, take classes or get another degree if need be; essentially just put myself in a position to move up the latter in this industry. Long-term (like 10 - 30 years) I'd like to be the person making some investment decisions, such as a portfolio manager, managing director, partner, etc.

Sorry if I'm not being super clear, as I said, I'm a newb and don't know a lot of the lingo, jobs, etc. I do have an idea of what I want to do, it's just not always easy for me to articulate it, so let me know if you want me to clarify anything else.

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Nov 6, 2009

Turn-over at asset mangament firms has significantly slowed in the past year and a half. Nobody is in a hurry to leave, because there is nowhere to leave to. I know of a few people who made the jump to different firms/better positions but I would say the average tenure of people in my office went from 6 to 18 months since Lehman blew up.

Nov 10, 2009

Anybody got more advice/insights on this topic? I'm in desperate need of advice. Thanks in advance.

Nov 10, 2009

A few things:

  1. Try and acquire the skills you want to be using in 5 years now. If you can show interviewers you know valuation and can pitch a stock, that could go a long way for you in your job search. Even if you're in a support role now, this can be really useful for networking and showing you can handle a more analytical role.
  2. The CFA definitely helps. A kid in my office just moved to Eaton Vance in a junior PM position, the only relevant thing under his belt being a CFA L1. Btw, at a junior role, PM and analyst are different tracks in asset management. PMs usually have a risk management role while analysts do the research. PMs get to pull the trigger, but in traditional AM, that function is pretty restricted. Its not exactly like in hedge funds where the PM is almost always a former analyst or trader.
  3. As far as where to look for jobs, the asset management industry is pretty huge. My suggestion would be to go through the II 300 rankings (http://www.iimagazine.com/Rankings/RankingsMoMaRan...) and look at their respective job postings. Ideally you want to get into a junior analyst/junior PM position but those are extremely competitive (and well compensated considering that a lot of these firms aren't based in NYC). If you can't get those, look at performance analysis or risk (MO type roles) that puts you in contact with PMs. Finally, if all else fails, you can look at ops stuff or even custody, but be warned that you will have to be very proactive about getting out of there on to something better.

Hope that helps.

Nov 13, 2009
GoodBread:

If you can show interviewers you know valuation and can pitch a stock, that could go a long way for you in your job search.

Does anybody have recommendations of places I could learn these skills efficiently? I'm currently reading a finance textbook, and it covers some of this stuff, but the range of topics and information is very wide. This breadth is somewhat confusing to a newbie like me, because I'm not sure what I need to know/understand/remember and what I don't. In other words, I'm looking for concise and compact resources that will teach me valuation and how to pitch a stock, without all the added fluff and additional topics.

Nov 13, 2009

This won't really cover the pitching stocks part, but is pretty solid for learning valuation:
http://www.amazon.com/Investment-Banking-Valuation...
Not a lot of fluff in there. You could also look into more involved programs (Factset: http://www.factset.com/products/ib/ibkbase, Wallstreetprep, Training the Street..)

Nov 26, 2009

As you'll see with mostly everything in life, books can only do so much. Everything else comes through trial and error. Getting your hands dirty through experience is the best way to "learn" these skills. Read the quarterly reports of the different investment managers you are interested in, read research reports, read macro/micro econ news. Have a sense of how everything works. Do you have the option to join a local im/wm firm? even for a temporary position?

Nov 29, 2009

Can one generally transition from corporate finance to AM? What about from sales and trading to AM? If so, are these jobs generally easier to get initially?

P.S. When I say transition to AM, I'm talking about jobs in financial analysis, such as financial analyst, research analyst, portfolio manager, etc.

Feb 25, 2010

bump

Feb 25, 2010

Start on the CFA asap. Regarding the series licenses: do them if you want. Realistically it's only going to cost about 500-600 bucks for both the 63 + 65 when the trainings are about $100-150 each and the tests are 115 and 155 for the 63 and 65. Really doesn't take all that much time to do those either. I talked to a broker who said he crammed his study for the 63 in 2 days and passed with a 88 percent. The CFA on the other hand is a completely different beast. It takes at least 200-300 hours of prep to pass for the overwhelming majority of people. Better to overstudy in general but ESPECIALLY for the CFA.

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Feb 25, 2010

thanks, do you currently work in either areas? or what are do you work in, if you dont mind me asking

Feb 25, 2010

What's the rest of your background look like? What work are you doing currently and how much work exp do you have? CFA will help but you'll need to do a lot of networking. Not sure I'd just go and do FINRA licensing unless you have seen jobs that explicitly ask for a particular license prior to starting, it's just not worth the time and money to get something that isn't going to get you any further in the process or won't be necessary for your position. PM me if you don't want to discuss without telling the world what you do.

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Feb 25, 2010

Sorry to hear about your first offer.

Speaking of breaking into Asset Management, ill give you my 2 cents. First you need to look at where your profile fits at it's current stage. While the positions this opens up for might not be what you strive for, this is only to break in (remember you could/should always apply directly for positions you desire). Once in, you will need to transition by showing the skills to do so. And it is hard. While i write the below as a way to get in, be aware that transitioning in todays day and age is not easy. In the old days you could walk in with a freaking philosophy background and 4 weeks later sit on the trading desk..

You can categorize the job into the basic three sectors: FO, MO and BO, and you current background sounds more like a BO or MO position. Given that you would like to proceed to sales and trading, i'd say a position in trading operations or a risk management position would be a way to go. They love structured guys who can crunch numbers and if you do too, you should actually thrive. Especially in these two areas it is my experience that you can get a lot of exposure with the PM's and trading desk which can be leveraged later on or help you form a network. A CFA will very likely help you on the way, but few people can sit around and wait 3-4 years until that is in place. MO / BO jobs should be plenty to come by at some of the bigger managers. So yeah, make a shortlist of firms and start looking.

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Feb 25, 2010

Be passionate about markets and be able to talk about markets. Also going to need to put together some stock pitches. Start networking with alum. I've seen UF alum in AM so start reaching out to them through LinkedIn, etc.

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Feb 25, 2010

Graduates start out in investment roles usually as analysts, who scrutinize the best companies and products in which to invest, looking at financial and legal information to assess their growth prospects.

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Feb 25, 2010

Look for Product roles, those are staffed by Junior people.

Feb 25, 2010

One option is to get your foot in the door in a non-investment role like a portfolio analyst or something. Then get your CFA while in the job and make internal transitions.

Feb 25, 2010

Show real passion for investing. Don't have some bad generic stock pitch of Apple of Exxon but come up with a stock pitch about some small forgotten company and of this company you should know absolutely everything. This will really impress the people interviewing you. Also, just know your shit about the market. Be able to talk about the macro environment, stock and bond valuations, etc.

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Feb 25, 2010

Do you invest yourself? Important question and if you don't you will want to start. This is merely to complement what was said above. Research, find a compelling stock, make a compelling case, eat your own cooking.

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Feb 25, 2010

If your having a blast and couldn't ask for more, then why even bother transferring.

Feb 25, 2010

Interested as well

Feb 25, 2010

No thoughts?

Apr 11, 2017

Wow, it is funny to look back and read this. 3 years ago before I even got started.

Feb 25, 2010

I'm in the same boat as you and frankly it ain't easy I'm planning to do a masters and am waiting on my CFA l1 results, cold calling has gotten me no where and being from a non target school is the best way of being ignored

Feb 25, 2010

Hey man, congrats on finishing the CFA L1! Hopefully you get that passing grade.

In terms of cold calling, don't give it up. Maybe try cold emailing instead of cold calling. If you call a firm at an inopportune time, they will most likely be annoyed and not open to helping you. By cold emailing, you've now put the ball in their court and they can answer on their own time. Just follow up 2x and you should be good. If they don't respond after all the follow ups, move on.

I only say this because it has helped me tons. Build up a network and make friends. Don't ask for a job, rather ask for advice and ask about their path to AM. You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to share their "story" and offer you advice. Good things will happen at the right times if your persistent.

Being from a non-target is tough but it is not impossible to land a good gig in AM.

Feb 25, 2010

I'm interested in this as well.

Feb 25, 2010

best way is to start in AM directly out of undergrad in research (not marketing, not trading, not product management)
Another most common way is IBD -> Top MBA -> Junior research analyst

Feb 25, 2010

CFA + knowledgeably being able to speak to the markets/your investment process will work wonders.

Feb 25, 2010

Would trying to break into sell-side ER and then do AM be a reasonable path? or should I directly go for AM?

Feb 25, 2010

The skill-sets are somewhat comparable. Pursue both so you have a contingency plan.

Also, if you can get accepted into value investors club that's huge (assuming you adhere to a value strategy)

Feb 25, 2010
samson_dada:

I am a STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) major and have been investing for the past 2 years or so. I am 25 and have been working in a non-finance role completely.

I really enjoy investing and have been thinking of a career switch(Even at work, I find myself thinking more about the markets than my actual job).

I have been considering

1) CFA

2) MBA

3) Masters in Finance

but I still get the impression that having just the degree wont work so I am turning to you guys for some advice. From what I gather, its very difficult to break into AM even if you go for an MBA so I want to make this decision and get working on it as soon as possible.

Thanks for your time!

MBA & MSF won't do much for you. You should take CFA L1, network, network, network. Try to speak to someone on the buyside about how they got to where they are, what you should do, etc. People love to talk about themselves. Ideally, you could get an analyst role in biotech, or capital goods (medical products, div manufacturing, a&d) that would go well with your undergraduate degree. Good luck!

Feb 25, 2010

Just network and apply on bulge bracket and smaller company websites. No magic to it. What type of business do you own?

Feb 25, 2010

Thanks for the input. I am working through my alumni network, and will definitely use it to network. Any thoughts on what would be a good entry level job in AM on the investment side? I was thinking of possibly taking a sales position to get my feet wet, but at the same time, I know that its generally not that easy to move from sales to investment side. On a different note, I own a business that specializes in architectural lighting design. My range of work typically ranges from high-end residential to mid-sized and large commercial. As an example, I am currently working on a 3 story commercial building; my business specifies where all the lighting fixtures go (ensuring proper illumination), then specifies which lighting fixtures will be used, and finally, supplying all the lighting fixtures. Niche business, it does well, my heart is just not in it anymore.

Feb 25, 2010

How many years out of college?

Feb 25, 2010

I graduated in the Fall of 2006. I also want to add, that starting salary doesn't really matter to me.. I am more interested in getting my foot in the door, and quite frankly given the fact that my business was/is successful, I am an a position where I could take a cut in pay and still be able to survive with no problem.

Feb 25, 2010

bump?

Feb 25, 2010

Is there an issue with staying with your business? Since you graduated in 2006, you are much older than most analyst, that doesn't mean you shouldn't look into AM, but the fact you have your own business and by the looks of it, it seems you are generating cash flow. I don't know why you would choose to leave just yet. I mean if you hate what you do thats understandable then.

Feb 25, 2010

my heart is no longer in it.

Feb 25, 2010

Well I don't know your cash flow, but assuming you are making some money, why not sell it and try managing your own money for now?

Feb 25, 2010

i am actually in the process of selling my business, and will hopefully complete the transaction inside of the next 6 months... i will manage some of the money from the proceeds, but would like/need to have a steady paycheck again at some point. Also I'm not the kind of person that can not be working, it would honestly drive me nuts. also, i figured it would be a learning experience in working for a company, and would help to network

Feb 25, 2010

Start off in sales and network your way to investment side. It won't be easy like you said.

Feb 25, 2010

am i better off starting in sales, or in operations? and by sales do you mean a position like FA?

Feb 25, 2010

What is your draw to Asset Management?

Just one guys opinion

Feb 25, 2010

What's up with posting 3 separate topics?

Feb 25, 2010

you should probably figure out which front office path you want to take first...

Feb 25, 2010

you've been in the industry for 5 years and still don't know if you want ib, s&t or Asset Management? yikes.

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Feb 25, 2010
misscurious:

you've been in the industry for 5 years and still don't know if you want ib, s&t or asset management? yikes.

believe it or not, everyone isn't programmed from birth to do finance. also many late bloomers out there that learn of it during or even after graduation, cut the guy some slack. people are here for help/advice and you add absolutely no value to the discussion.

to op, i'd definitely research the areas b/c most likely the role you're in now will determine where you can go. post up an updated resume if you can. then we can give better advice.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

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Feb 25, 2010

I was in a similar position and could probably write a book on this, but I'll try to keep it brief.

Systematically break down the process of networking and interviewing.

Networking: figure out exactly what you want to do, know everything about the industry, and start reaching out to people in the field with good questions. Be relaxed and confident. Being nervous or a prick won't get you anywhere. Talk like a normal person and not a turd. Use excel to keep track of everything (I had close to 250 contacts when I finally broke in).

Interviews: Think deeply about what the hiring manager really wants and how you can give that to him. Use examples from your past and tweak the shit out of them to fit the role you're going for. Back office skills don't relate to front office, but talk about how you improved something or saved time/money, and know how to talk about markets, finance, etc. You really have to think deeply and sensibly about the interview process. Get in the mind of each interviewer (what do they want, what are their concerns) and tweak your answers after each interaction.

My story: I went from buyside operations to a front office Asset Management role at a different company. Like everyone else that's been through this marathon of a process, I had down moments but I just kept going; improving and learning what really matters. By the time I broke in, I had passed all the CFA exams as well. Having the CFA charter definitely helps, but it's a trade-off because it takes time away from networking and interviewing.

The MBA is another good path, but I highly recommend grinding it out first to develop your networking and interviewing skills because you'll need that for b-school anyway. Plus, getting into top schools w/o good experience is fairly difficult.

Good luck, and here's one of my favorite quotes to keep you going.

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours."

Feb 25, 2010

The surgeon analogy is the least relevant and funny thing I've ever heard.

Feb 25, 2010

agreed. i need to figure out specifically what i want to do. thank you all for the advice, especially misscurious. have a great weekend all.

Feb 25, 2010

any specific resources you guys think with be good to help me figure it out? websites online? books etc?

Feb 25, 2010

I'm interested to know how this turns out because I've just graduated cum laude from a non-target and will be taking a middle office position next month at a BB.

Feb 25, 2010

MBA

Feb 25, 2010

^He already got an MBA.

Investment positions in state pension funds usually have a lower barrier of entry so that might be a way to get into the industry.

Feb 25, 2010

who the hell rounds to 3 places, especially when i hurts you?

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Feb 25, 2010
WalMartShopper:

who the hell rounds to 3 places, especially when i hurts you?

I've heard that you are technically misstating your GPA if you put "3.7" when you have a "3.66". Other sources may say different but wasn't an area I wanted to play around with.

Feb 25, 2010

yes, 3.66, not 3.657. also the employer usually states what they wish you to round it to. i would either do 1 or 2 decimals.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Feb 25, 2010

Any other advice other than the GPA rounding?

Feb 25, 2010

Start networking. If you're above 3.0 and have work experience, it becomes a function of who you know and if they'll help you. Call people up and ask them for their advice on breaking in, and through the process of them helping you they may see that you are qualified for the job.

Feb 25, 2010

i'd unbold certs and gpa, justify bullets, it will look much cleaner

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Feb 25, 2010

How I broke into the industry is by getting accepted into an applied investment management program at my university. I've known many people who have went back to school to get their MBA and complete a CFA approved applied program. It really helps you separate yourself from the rest of the pack. Message me if you have any questions.

Feb 25, 2010

BUMP..

Array

Feb 25, 2010

So you are trying to switch from BO to FO? It will be HARD. The CFA might be a good idea just because it will illustrate that you have an interest in investing. You are already working at a BB, so just go ahead and ask your friends (network with them) and see where your family has some good connections.

Feb 25, 2010

An MBA is always a great investment in yourself if you are going to remain in the professional worksphere. Another option to sort of give you an edge before receiving an MBA is to check with local universities to see if any offer a Six Sigma Green/Black Belt certificate. the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Interpret, Correct) method you will learn will apply to most everything in your life.

Feb 25, 2010

I hear Stevie Cohen and Soros are both super turbo mega black belts in six sigma. You can't invest in an asset class without setting up a proper work flow diagram first.

Feb 25, 2010

Thank you both for your help, much appreciated!

Feb 25, 2010

Hey bud, I was being sarcastic. Don't waste time on that shit. MBA or maybe test your luck with CFA.

Feb 25, 2010

An MBA could be worth exploring. I'm not sure about your background - have you invested yourself and what level of knowledge about investing do you have? Depending on the program, you may get a chance to participate in stock picking or research competitions which could give you useful experience when applying for such firms. There could also be a useful careers network that you can tap into as well. It's part lifestyle decision as well.

Feb 25, 2010
Comment

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Feb 25, 2010
Feb 25, 2010
Comment

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing