CFA vs Quantitative Finance

evil

MQF Student
Hi

I was wondering if somebody could give me some advice.....do many quantitative analysts take their CFA, is it really worthing studying that after your while your studying towards a masters.
I'm currently a new student enrolled into a Masters of Quantitative Finance (Part time, Sydney) - studying 2 subjects and looking for full time work but I was thinking maybe I could break into finance easier if I'm also doing a CFA and doing 1 subject towards my masters. I've had a few informational interviews with quantative analysts in the industry (a number who dont use any mathematics what so ever) but still recommend to do a CFA as its more applicable to the work environment. Please tell me what you think of this idea??

George
 
I assume you mean CFA, in which case it really depends what you want to do. Since you're studying financial engineering, I assume you want to be a quant. In which case, the CFA may help but the FE knowledge will be your primary tool set. Since you're talking with a quant analyst who doesn't use math at all, then I seem to think he/she is a bit biased towards the CFA (and probably not a "true" quant anyway). I said before, in an earlier post, that having an MSFE and CFA won't hurt, but the ROI on having the CFA after the MSFE is probably not as high as people think. The CFA can help plug some of the gaps you will not learn in most FE programs. But its a big, long, 3-year test with a very low pass rate. Personally, I think your FE program will open more doors than a CFA, esp if you have no finance experience. The CFA is essentially a painful, 3-year process of cramming tons of information in your brain hoping that you remember the 50% or so required to get a passing score. Most people forget the majority of material immediately after recieving their charter. However, most FE programs have case studies, class projects, mock trading, etc. Personally, if I were you I'd focus on finishing my masters in FE. I think that will open more doors for you.
 

evil

MQF Student
yeah sorry CFA not cpa.... thanks for the advice.

I actually considered studying both simultaneously because after enrolling into stats 4 quant finance and stochastic calculus in finance I was a bit worried because stats 4 quant finance is a prerequisite for stochastic calculus especially in probability theory and I didn't think I knew enough probability except for what I had learnt in measure theory which led to probability spaces, expectations, etc.

So I considered possibly doing 1 subject and going for a level 1 CFA maybe I could of made an easier transition into finance especially since I got none and coming from a physics/marketing/maths undergraduate background.

I guess it wouldn't be so bad doing both stochastic and statistics simultaneously, I just didn't wanna be hit with all that mathematics so soon. Maths can be quite intimidating and if you don't know enough theory to go along with it whether its physics theory or finance theory, it can make maths all the more harder.......Because after all the maths is applied to something, it doesn't just come out from thin air. I think the maths in quant finance is more so applied than pure, so hopefully it should be okay.
 
I would either take a basic finance/econ class, or read a good book on the subject in your free time. There are plenty out there, and I'm sure you can search this site for recommendations. Somewhere out there are recommended finance reading lists for PhD's in math or physics. My personal favorite is by Frank Fabozzi, and its called "Investment Management" (I think that's the title, as its at my house and not my work).

Please don't let me stop you from considering the CFA, either. Its just a huge committment and I think you'll end up regretting the amount of time it takes away from your graduate studies.

-Mike
 
I have seen NO demand for quants with CFAs
 

evil

MQF Student
I think your right, I'm better off doing both subjects simultaneously than wasting my time doing 1 subject and a CPA.....I guess I was just looking to be a quant with an edge. I had read about the new degree New York University is offering this yr. MBA/MS.........its a half management half mathematics combined degree....a "super quant" ......quants need to be managed too I guess, I think its just for leadership skills....I actually downloaded all the CFA material, it isn't to flashy, I think i'll be more comfortable facing the hardcore mathematics than the vanilla finance with pretty little pictures. ...
 
I have both. It helps. There are quants with the CFA. Go check the UC Berk FE student page. It's a 2-year commitment if you start with level 1 in Dec.
I say go for it. It only helps. Good networking tool, you won't need head hunters.

Just out of curiousity, did you get your CFA after your masters?
 

evil

MQF Student
I have both. It helps. There are quants with the CFA. Go check the UC Berk FE student page. It's a 2-year commitment if you start with level 1 in Dec.
I say go for it. It only helps. Good networking tool, you won't need head hunters.

I read the bio's of the students and surprisingly there are quite a few students who are level 2 and level 3 candidates. There all studying towards there Masters in FE of course but many of them started their CFA before obviously and have had also careers before they started their masters in FE. Some even had completed MBA and PhD's and THEN enrolled into FE. I guess they just all like to learn, it may or not may help get a job, it might just end up being up another 3 letters you can add on your resume.
 

evil

MQF Student
shocked as I am.........I actually went and did it....i've signed up, paid the cash and theres no way out now....can't believe what just happened!!!!....no refunds.....i'm hopeless at making financial decisions,.....I hope I'm a better quant than just shutting my eyes and just going 4 it...:smt118,.....dropped a uni subject........working fulltime, uni part time, and now cfa,....in 4 a big yr now
 
shocked as I am.........I actually went and did it....i've signed up, paid the cash and theres no way out now....can't believe what just happened!!!!....no refunds.....i'm hopeless at making financial decisions,.....I hope I'm a better quant than just shutting my eyes and just going 4 it...:smt118,.....dropped a uni subject........working fulltime, uni part time, and now cpa,....in 4 a big yr now


I think you are definitely on the right track pursuing a CFA. Sure its a long process but is extremely rewarding at the end. In my company, I noticed that most of the Financial Engineers that don't have a PhD are pursuing a CFA, not a mention lots of folks in the front office. Its seems almost rudimentary if you would like to get your door into a decent position in the financial industry. It can also supplement any skill set acquired in FE/Quant Finance masters program thus increasing your value.

Also think of it like this: If you are in a pool of candidates that are seeking Financial Engineering positions with the same qualifications, then holding a charter will give you a competitive advantage. It won't be time wasted. Just don't give up on it, even if you fail the first exam, take it again until you pass. when you get to the higher levels, its a different set of mates and most are practioners in the industry. This is where you can build your pipeline, as CW202, stated.

True story: I have even seen opportunities open up for Candiates of level 3.

I wish you the best of luck!
 
@ Evil

I am seeking to do a Masters in Quantitative Finance or something similar as well. I have looked into UTS's MQF and UNSW's Masters in Financial Mathematics. Where are you undertaking your MQF?

Also how important is it to have industry experience to get admitted?

Cheers.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
The CFA is not really a quant qualification, it's aimed at different career paths.

Eric says he has seen no demand for CFA qualified quants, and certainly I have never had a client mention it in the desired skill set.

However, I observe that some people whose job title is quant, have the CFA, but it's not a big %.
 
I am a CFA charterholder & i have a BBA (Finance). I have 7 years fx sales experience with a local bank in Dubai & i havent been able to find a job anywhere/any bank/any city. So basically my charter has been useless so far, which i got about a year back. I am working in Dubai & I am looking to become a professional trader. I don't mind starting as a junior trader or even as an intern. Unfortunately, i haven't been able to get any interviews, let alone job offers. I have tried to network, cold call, applied to companies directly, recruitment agencies, applied for positions which can lead to become a trader, tried to move internally, nothings worked. I had started my job hunt two years back & its just not worked out. Since, i have an interest in trading i have done it on my personal account (FX, indices and commodity futures) & i have read a few books on professional trading. However, since i do it part time i don't find enough time to do justice to it. My job pays me alright but because i really have a passion for trading i don't want to settle with the current job & give it a go for a career in trading. I don't have any dependents & responsibility so i won't be affected a lot if i stop getting a fixed income. I still have a chance to live my dream. The long term dream is to be a trader who consistently generates returns (no restrictions on what the asset class is). Now i have two choices: 1) Quit my job, move back home (to India) & trade independently with my savings (at the cost of leaving a decent paying job & a high chance that i might fail (like most people do at trading)) 2) Go to a uni do an MQF or MCF (in Baruch/Carnegie or another similar type of school) & try and get recruited to a money management firm from campus as a trader, this choice would give me a better learning experience & skillset than the previous choice.

Need some serious career advice.
 
MS Financial Engineering vs Financial Economics-Which gives better skills to become a Global Capital Markets' Portfolio Manager.
I've already cleared CFA L2 but it hasn't exactly given me the Macro Economics analysis skills neither has it given Quant skills. So a prudent advice is highly appreciated here to make a choice between the two masters.
 
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