Categories
Misc

Things took a quick turn

directions

So a funny thing happened on the way to making my next major life transition in May. I had to start making it at the beginning of February! That’s why things went a bit quiet on the blog.

I was supposed to be in Sweden at least through April per the coaching contract I talked about in my New Year’s post. Rather abruptly, though, the club told me at the start of this month that they were terminating my contract. My coaching friends were stunned – even the ones in Sweden (maybe especially them). I was told “differences in coaching philosophy”. Some suggested the real reason was probably money, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. I was getting ready for a transition at season’s end. It just came a bit sooner than expected.

Unfortunately, because things happened this way I hadn’t really begun a proper job search. I was thinking I’d probably need to wait until at least the end of February to do that given likely time lines and expectations for when I’d start a new job.

So now I’m back in the States. I did have one poker in the fire before all this happened, so it might not be long before I have a new job. Or not. We’ll have to see.

The one thing that doesn’t change, though, is my intention to produce a revised version of The Essentials of Trading and to share with people my observations about the reality of trader performance based on my PhD research.

Oh, by the way. I’m now officially Dr. Forman. I found that out about two weeks ago. Everything has been approved and ratified and I’m now a full-fledged PhD. If you haven’t already had a look, here’s some details about my dissertation and how you can check it out.

Categories
Trading Tips

Which to Choose: CFA or MBA

I got a question via a comment to my Trading Jobs – Making the Transition from a Non-Trading Job post which I thought presents a good follow on to my recent Picking a Good Business School post.

What is your opinion on the CFA program? Is it any good?
Will it help land a job in trading or money management (hedge fund)?

The CFA is the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. It is comparable to a CPA in terms of it being a test based certification. There are three testing levels which must be passed to become a CFA. You can learn more about it at www.cfainstitute.org.

The CFA is primarily a professional money management (think mutual fund or pension fund) type of designation. I took the first level of the exam right out of undergraduate. It’s pretty intense and covers a number of different subjects. I opted not to carry on in pursuit of the certification, however, because I really had no plan on getting into money management.

These days, the CFA and MBA are virtually interchangable. In most job postings which list a CFA requirement you will find “or MBA”. There are a few exceptions, but the either/or is something I’ve seen in most listings.

That being the case, my general view is that an MBA will serve you better than a CFA. This is a simple case of it being a wider certification, applicable in many more areas than a CFA. Considering that most people change careers multiple times in their life these days, the MBA offers more job flexibility than does the CFA. There’s also the networking that you do through the grad school process which the CFA cannot really match.

If you’re thinking in terms of trading, neither one is going to help you much more than to provide high level background and theory. They are not practical trading programs.

That’s my two cents anyway.

Categories
Deep Posts Reader Questions Answered

Tips and suggestions on going after trading jobs

This inquiry came in from Todd:

First off, I’ve been watching your EOT course again and you do a great job of giving a solid intro to all the different aspects of trading. I recently graduated with an economics degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and I’m looking for a job related to trading and the markets. I was wondering if you could offer some advice on where to look, what kinds of firms to seek out, etc. I’m open to almost anything (although I’d prefer not to be a broker) and looking for some place to get started. Hopefully, I can find a job related to futures and/or forex. I find these two markets more interesting than stocks.

Any advice/suggestions you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

My own experience with trading and financial market careers is rather narrow, so I can’t offer much in the way of breadth of specific advice on that, but I’ll share what I’ve got. Hopefully other readers who have been through it all themselves will chip in with comments of their own.

When I came out of undergraduate I found a job as a junior analyst. While I don’t recall exactly how I came to apply for the position, I’m pretty sure it was through a newspaper listing (maybe Wall Street Journal). Obviously, I don’t know the credentials of any other candidate being considered. What I do believe, though, is that my membership in the Market Technicians Association very seriously impressed the folks with whom I did my interviews. That was something they clearly hadn’t expected to see from someone just coming out of school. I’d venture to say that’s probably still true today.

My academic credentials weren’t spectacular. I had about a 3.3 GPA from an average state school. I’d been treasurer of the finance club and active in some other business school organizations. I’d also been working as a cashier for pretty much the whole time I was in school and was a member of the National Guard up until my last semester.

I’d had some personal stock trading experience, but nothing of any major consequence. I was pretty well read on the subject, though. I could talk the talk, which probably gave me a leg up. It really should come as a surprise that if you can speak the same language as your prospective employer you’ve got a better chance of getting hired.

These days there are a huge number of different types of financial firms from small research and trading shops up to the big investment banks. They are located all over the place, so you don’t necessarily have to think just of a select few major metropolitan locations, as was the case back in the day.

My suggestion to anyone looking for a job in the business is to look at things from three perspectives. One is the training programs the major institutions run – primarily for those just out of undergrad or MBA programs. Another is the job listings of financial firms. The third is the classified listings on sites like www.efinancialcareers.com and such. They all will help to highlight the types of positions out there and the kinds of qualifications employers are after.

Importantly, think about the type of job you’d like to have down the line, not just the one you want now. If you’re thinking about getting into portfolio management, for example, look at the job requirements for those types of positions, then back out a job path to get there and look at the type of job(s) you would need to be in between here and there to get the credentials you’ll need.

What I do not recommend is going straight from undergrad to grad school. It’s a waste. The time you spend in the job market between the two makes the graduate work more meaningful and helps in the job market when you’re on your way back into the real world.