Exams Over and Let Your Hair Down [8 Dec 08]

Dear students from Intensive Review class, tutorial class and Mock Exam Review class,

Good to see some of you yesterday.  With the exams finally over, it’s time to let your hair down. I would like to invite you to the mini-Xmas party on coming Wed evening, where you will get a chance to meet up with finance professionals.

During this period, some of you have approached me seeking career advice or even sent me your resume looking for opportunities.  While the macro environment is clearly unfavourable for job-seekers now (with headcount freezes and restructuring exercises), I feel that there are two things that one should start working on, if one is aspiring to join the investment mgt industry (buy-side/ sell-side) eventually.  Passing the CFA Exams is only part of the equation; networking and competency building is what it takes to eventually land anybody a job in the finance industry and I will elaborate on these points in this post-exam mailer.

(1) Professional Networking: 
It is important to leverage on contacts in your job search because many vacancies are filled based on referrals, whether you like it or not. It is very common for one’s boss to ask his team-mates if they know anybody with a certain skill set to fill any new role they are contemplating.  Such openings are generally not publicised at all.  Referrals are preferred, as one of the team members may have worked with the new person before and most likely would have a good working relationship with him/ her.

When I was still outside the finance industry more than two years ago, the number of contacts I had in the finance industry could be counted with one hand!  After I realised the importance of networking, I made it one of my personal objectives to attend networking events regularly and meet acquaintances and friends for lunch/ drinks to better understand the industry structure through them.  Today, though I already know many people in the investment mgt industry, I still see value in professional networking as a continual process, very much like a basic survival skill. I attach some words of advice that I shared with my friends on my experience with networking events.

(2) Competency Building: 
Typically, at interview sessions, potential employers ask you how many years of relevant experience you have got.  This is tough and very much like a “chicken and egg” question, coz one obviously does NOT have any relevant experience as one is not in the finance industry YET.  I have gone thru this myself and am fully aware how tough it can be.  However, I still believe there are a few things one can do to demonstrate proactiveness in building up one’s competency, one of which is to broaden your market knowledge and gain exposure to analyst research.  For a start, if you are not yet sure what you wish to achieve in the finance industry, read a bit of everything… and when you are more certain of what you wish to do, focus your attention to reading the more relevant stuff.  It’s very much a self-discovery process.

[I have one word of CAUTION though: the finance industry is not for the faint-hearted (i.e. anybody who is worried about job security).... so one needs to be aware of the ups and downs.  Personally, I think this job suits me well, coz I feel life is full of ups and downs, and we just gotta ride thru the waves.... I am happy to have found what I enjoy doing.]

Finally, if you need some career advice, feel free to hook me up for lunch/ drinks, and I will be happy to prescribe and share some reading material with you.

Happy holidays.

This entry was posted in News, Words of Wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.