Careers

Too late for a career change?

[OP]
Newbie
Dec 2, 2012
15 posts

Too late for a career change?

I'm a chartered accountant with 10 yrs of experience post qualification. In my almost mid-30s.
Have experience with well known companies in consumer products, retail & distribution, and manufacturing.
Hours are decent - no more 45-50 hours a week.
Comp is ok - $125K plus 15% bonus.
Family life is good - wife and 2 young kids.
Problem is - I'm bored and I'm not sure how long (another 10 yrs??) before I'm CFO material for a small public company and will still only make maybe $200-$300K I guess.

Looking to maybe go into Finance - equity research specifically. I'm a social person, so I like that aspect, and I'm a numbers guy that likes the challenge of forecasting based on models i put together. Plus, i feel that my work will be reflected by how much I get compensated - which could be much larger than a CFO and will get me there faster.

I guess what I'm looking for is validation and feedback from the peanut gallery. Am I nuts to think of changing careers especially for equity research? I don't even know if I'll be able to break into equity research with all the young guns right out of firms / MBA programs...Please help / advise!
35 replies
Deal Guru
Oct 7, 2010
13510 posts
4377 upvotes
The field is always greener on the other side, that's until you get to the other side. You realize it's not much greener.
Deal Addict
Apr 7, 2011
2053 posts
609 upvotes
Hamilton
I hate to say it but to move into an equity analyst role you're too old. Worse interview I ever had was for a research associate opportunity, I had my CFA, 8 years of relevant industry experience etc...And when he saw that I was married and wasn't 25 the we wasted 30 minutes pretending that I was a potential candidate. It was ugly.

They expect significant hours from you 70+ a week. I wouldn't do it now that I have kids.

You can make a career change, I've done it. But in some ways you're CA designation works against you. You know one area really strongly, it's hard to pivot from that. I'm a CMA so I trade depth of knowledge for breadth in some ways. (no flame wars please!)

For what it's worth, my path involved a couple of hybrid roles to move into my current career. You may need to take it in two or more steps. Support the marketing area, move into a marketing role that's quantitative...
Member
Jan 14, 2010
409 posts
641 upvotes
GTA
I think you should stay in the current path, maybe try getting involved in different aspects of the business. I'm curious, what role are you in currently?
Newbie
Nov 3, 2011
30 posts
2 upvotes
SCARBOROUGH
I'll cut and paste my comment in the other thread.

"The answer is: it depends. What's your long-term goal if you were in equity research? Do you want to be a sell-side analyst or do you want to be on the buyside? On the sell-side, you are working 60+ hours/week as an associate. If you have what it takes to become an analyst after a few years, you're be working even longer hours and will likely be on the road 30-40% of the time to market your companies and your franchise. The work-life balance will be better on the buy-side, but given the current environment, positions are few and far between and they typically hire from sell-side research. Your total comp will be similar to or moderately lower than what you are making now at the associate level. Broadly speaking, equity research associates are about 28-30 years old on average, typically with a CA or MBA or CFA. You might be slightly older but it's not a huge issue."

I'll have to disagree with some of the points Sum_guy made. Will age work against you? Yes. But so will many other types of roles in other industries. Are you too old? No.
Your CA designation will absolutely NOT work against you in equity research. It is a fact that many analysts specifically ask for CAs when looking to hire a research associate. I would say almost 50/50 between MBAs and CAs. That being said, I have never seen anyone ask for a CMA designation. Sell-side research is a specialist role, not a generalist role.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 30, 2003
3908 posts
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Toronto
ShoMeTheMoney wrote: [...]
Problem is - I'm bored and I'm not sure how long (another 10 yrs??) before I'm CFO material for a small public company and will still only make maybe $200-$300K I guess.
[...]
Why do you feel you aren't capable of moving into that role now? There are loads of small engineering companies that would kill for a finance guy to take over that role. Your salary expectations may be a tad unrealistic for smaller companies but I'd say you'll find the position more rewarding.
--
There is no happy ending
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 13, 2005
6871 posts
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Ottawa
Sylvestre wrote: Why do you feel you aren't capable of moving into that role now? There are loads of small engineering companies that would kill for a finance guy to take over that role. Your salary expectations may be a tad unrealistic for smaller companies but I'd say you'll find the position more rewarding.

+1 Your lack of self-confidence will be holding you back. If you are that bored you need a challenge. You will be working more as a CFO. I guarantee you that.

Personally, I wouldn’t go into equity research but that’s cause I don’t want the long hours. If you have a job that pays well and is just the standard hours then I’ll probably stay for a long long time till a gig as good or better comes along. Grass is greener on the other side but sometimes you have a trade off and that is precious time.
Member
Sep 30, 2012
305 posts
42 upvotes
Hamilton
ShoMeTheMoney wrote: I'm a chartered accountant with 10 yrs of experience post qualification. In my almost mid-30s.
Have experience with well known companies in consumer products, retail & distribution, and manufacturing.
Hours are decent - no more 45-50 hours a week.
Comp is ok - $125K plus 15% bonus.
Family life is good - wife and 2 young kids.
Problem is - I'm bored and I'm not sure how long (another 10 yrs??) before I'm CFO material for a small public company and will still only make maybe $200-$300K I guess.

Looking to maybe go into Finance - equity research specifically. I'm a social person, so I like that aspect, and I'm a numbers guy that likes the challenge of forecasting based on models i put together. Plus, i feel that my work will be reflected by how much I get compensated - which could be much larger than a CFO and will get me there faster.

I guess what I'm looking for is validation and feedback from the peanut gallery. Am I nuts to think of changing careers especially for equity research? I don't even know if I'll be able to break into equity research with all the young guns right out of firms / MBA programs...Please help / advise!
125k with a good family life and you're board? Hah, who would have thought. My advice might not mean much, but you're better off picking up a hobby after work to keep yourself busy if you're so board rather than take a risk and lose a good thing. Remember, you have a family to look after and a lot of times, the grass does indeed look greener on the other side.

You're not too old to follow or pursue the things you love, but at your position and your age, your approach should be more on the safe side rather than taking major risks that jeopardize your family life.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2011
2071 posts
1177 upvotes
Etobicoke
DTscript wrote: 125k with a good family life and you're board? Hah, who would have thought. My advice might not mean much, but you're better off picking up a hobby after work to keep yourself busy if you're so board rather than take a risk and lose a good thing. Remember, you have a family to look after and a lot of times, the grass does indeed look greener on the other side.

You're not too old to follow or pursue the things you love, but at your position and your age, your approach should be more on the safe side rather than taking major risks that jeopardize your family life.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
You have a good income, do something on the side, whetehr for fun or extra income. Nobody wants to work, that's why people dream fo winning the lottery so that they don't have to work.
You also are close to my age and are going thorugh something most mid 30's guys do (at least I have) that you feel stuck in a rut and although are happy with your life, feel trapped at the prospect of this being your life for the next 20 years until you can think of retirement.
Enjoy your youth (what's left of it anyway) and enjoy your family time when you can, life is busy enough without us taking the time to enjoy it.
Think of it as for 8ish hours you sleep, 8ish hours you work, make the last 8ish hours count!
-----------------------------------------------------

"It's better to be dead and cool...than alive and uncool!"
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 2, 2012
15 posts
I'll try to address all the questions above...

Sum Guy - I don't mind working long hours for a couple of years. My wife is very supportive and she realizes short term pain for long term gain is okay. She's also a professional and knows that hard work is necessary. I'm curious to what you ended up doing since you didn't go the equity research route and you have your CFA. Please provide some insight because I unfortunately don't really have any good mentors who can help me guide my career. So hearing about other people's real life experiences is the best that I can draw conclusions from. In terms of age, I think star analyst Perry Caicco only broke into equity research at 40 after years in industry. So, he might be the exception, but it does happen.

Bizstudent - I have tried different things. I have done a little bit of reporting and month end stuff as a divisional controller (for a US sub), financial planning and analysis, supply chain and operations, and now I'm in manufacturing and a divisional controller for a Canadian public company hoping to get more experience with Canadian reporting and what not. For a while I was thinking, okay, I'm pot committed and the best thing I should do is go the CFO route. It just seems so daunting now and next to impossible. Seems like a very long road - like mid-40's before I even make some serious money. Meanwhile my peers are making that crazy cash now because they're already many years into Finance, or they got lucky and went into Mining and became CFO's of small gold companies and what not.

Oceanus - I think I asked you earlier but are you a research analyst/associate currently? What is the time horizon for a decent associate to move up and make some good cash? I'll be honest, I know I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I have a decent head on my shoulders, and I think my best asset(s) are that I'm able to present myself well and enjoy meeting/talking to people. I think research includes a big part of that right? I am also motivated by money (yes, I'm shallow) and I feel that if I know that my work is directly related to my compensation (i.e. the more accurate my forecasts are, the better my bonus), I don't mind working long hours.

Sylvestre/Setell - I don't think I'm ready now to move into a CFO role...Maybe it's a little bit of lack of self-confidence, and partly because I don't think I have all the tools under my belt yet. I don't want to fail. An equity analyst on the other hand, it's just really me that i'm competing against. It's kind of like golf, I'll just get better by making my models better, networking more to get info, learn more about the markets, etc.

So, all in all - I'm stil not sure...I think hearing everyone's points of view is very helpful though...So please continue if you have any other feedback. Are my salary expectations getting unreal?
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 2, 2012
15 posts
Sorry, my response must've posted before i read DTScript and Sherman's responses...
Those are valid points...And when i hear that, I'm like, yeah I should be grateful - which of course I am...
It's only when I start hanging out with some of my other friends and acquaintances and hear about their careers, I start thinking that I'm wasting my potential. That I too should be some hot shot executive on Bay Street pulling in $500K-$1 million a year...These were, afterall, my peers when I was working with them in the firm and classmates from university.
Newbie
Feb 14, 2009
31 posts
6 upvotes
Wow, since when is 300k just "ok" salary, and what makes you think you deserve a million bucks? If you're that bored, travel a bit or pick up some new hobbies. Every job becomes stale after you've been doing it for 20 years.

You should be shipped off to work in some third-world factory to see how good you have it. You just sound like a spoiled and ungrateful *****. No one is feeling sorry for you.
Member
Sep 30, 2012
305 posts
42 upvotes
Hamilton
ShoMeTheMoney wrote: Sorry, my response must've posted before i read DTScript and Sherman's responses...
Those are valid points...And when i hear that, I'm like, yeah I should be grateful - which of course I am...
It's only when I start hanging out with some of my other friends and acquaintances and hear about their careers, I start thinking that I'm wasting my potential. That I too should be some hot shot executive on Bay Street pulling in $500K-$1 million a year...These were, afterall, my peers when I was working with them in the firm and classmates from university.
Are your friends like these people or something? LOL

[OP]
Newbie
Dec 2, 2012
15 posts
Eidorian, you're absolutley right, I do come accross as some jackass here...but trust me I grew up in a very lower middle class home, so I'm very grateful for everything I have. I am just trying to take full advantage of everything I have in terms of education and what not. So when I see people with similar smarts and qualifications as me, I can't help but think I should be making more too. And i Understand why you're saying that I'm a spoiled $#*@, but I donate a lot to charities and volunteer a lot of free time to the board of a charity for over 5 years now. And I never said $300K was "ok" money, so not sure who you're quoting there. And I'm not looking for sympathy just some real career advice.
But I welcome your viewpoint too because sometimes it puts things in perspective. So I thank you for that.
Deal Addict
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Sep 30, 2003
3908 posts
127 upvotes
Toronto
ShoMeTheMoney wrote: I'll try to address all the questions above...
[...]

Sylvestre/Setell - I don't think I'm ready now to move into a CFO role...Maybe it's a little bit of lack of self-confidence, and partly because I don't think I have all the tools under my belt yet. I don't want to fail. An equity analyst on the other hand, it's just really me that i'm competing against. It's kind of like golf, I'll just get better by making my models better, networking more to get info, learn more about the markets, etc.
Then you won't succeed.

Seriously, you will NEVER feel comfortable for the role. You will ALWAYS feel inadequate. You WILL fail in some aspects etc. That's called learning.
Go read a bit about CxOs and how they all feel like frauds in their role, and cannot believe they do what they do because they don't believe in themselves etc. It's incredibly common. The successful ones are the ones who operate despite that fear.

I'm starting to see more about why you are in the position you are in - you aren't challenging your boundaries. You think that competing against yourself makes you better? There's a reason competition brings out the best in people; there's a reason golf is played with a foursome. I'm not trying to be insulting but stop fooling yourself - you don't want to compete because you are afraid of being beaten.

You seem to think that CFO=mid 40's or older, and you then make yourself feel better by ascribing your friend's successes to a mining field or because of luck. This is just a coping mechanism you've adopted. Realize this, and then go get what you want. You are wasting your potential. You'll waste more starting over in some new field because you cannot cope with taking the next step forward.
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There is no happy ending
Deal Fanatic
Sep 5, 2002
6630 posts
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This is an excellent post.
Deal Addict
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Mar 23, 2011
2071 posts
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Etobicoke
Also, regarding your "peers", are they single, divorced, happy? How many hours do they work to achieve the big money.
There are alot of rich people who aren't happy and work 80-100 hours and make a fortune.
Remember you are also a husband and a father - "Not every successful man is a good father. But every good father is a successful man"
-----------------------------------------------------

"It's better to be dead and cool...than alive and uncool!"

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