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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 27-09-2011, 01:59 PM
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Default Career Advice Needed

Hey all, am at a career stand point currently and am in the midst of evaluating what i should do :| i apologise if my post is too long and potentially whiny :|

TLDR: i feel like my current job shows no future potential and i would want to know how to progress on career and $ wise, either through a job change or upgrading myself through academic qualifications

Just a slight background, i've always wanted to be the chap on the newspapers giving suggestions as to which stocks to buy/hold/sell (along the lines of financial research la), felt that such a job would give me the skill set needed for me to survive should my employer ever were to retrench me etc in bad times, more of a long term perspective.

But yea, thats what i would want to do, in reality this is how my job history has been like:

i graduated with distinction (similar to NUS' merit) - Bachelor of Business Management (major: finance, 'minor': HR) from SIM/RMIT

since graduation my first job was in an audit firm in the department called 'business restructuring services', call me naive but my impression was that of, literally, business restructuring, which i felt complemented what i learnt in my business modules etc but in reality was more of liquidation services. after a year (13 months to be specific) i left mainly due to the depressing nature of the job. its kinda like working as an executioner, you do your job but the people impacted view you as the enemy etc.

since then i was unemployed for 6 months before i got a contract job as a 'procurement administrator' for a medical equipment R&D firm whereby my main tasks were purchasing of components in support of the R&D engineers and slightly in support of production of upcoming products, a large chunk of my work was also in relation to providing logistical administration for the office's shift (which of course has no value in a resume anyways). i did this job cause it was the only job offered to me in my times of unemployment and for then next 10 months i was with this job (as per my contract).

a little something to add: within these 2 jobs i had attempted at CFA level 1 which both times i failed (its always failing ONE topic sigh)

since then i was unemployed for 2 months till i got my present job, that of a business analyst for a hotel. it was a job i felt was a little more towards my 'ideal' job, a job whereby i did analytical work (to a certain extent). You could say that my current job was 'a foot' inside finance (financial analysis) and that of revenue (revenue management). A little more than a year into this job, i am starting to feel a sense of stagnation in this job. Maybe its just me (hopefully not), but i am starting to feel that i have no 'future' within this job (i.e. no direction from my position as a business analyst). I do have colleagues in fellow hotels that have been business analysts for years and have had no form of career progression and within a hotel there is nothing beyond the position of that of a business analyst (to lightly put it its almost like a secretary, you join as one and for the rest of your career you are stuck as one)

As such this brings me to my problem:-
1) The hospitality industry does not pay well and as i move on in life (marriage, home, family, etc) my financial obligations are in time going to take up a larger proportion of my salary (which sadly currently, my salary is lesser than that of a fresh grad )

2) I feel a sense of career stagnation. Do i move on to another job? If so what job? I would still love to do some form of financial research though it seems given my academic background and job experience i am doubtful any company would give the chance to an individual no matter how much they are willing to learn or step up to the role. Or should i take 'upgrade' myself academically so as to get that first job towards that in financial research? This itself leads to a whole bunch of questions of whether to take a MBA/CFA/ MFE

Pardon my 'random' rabbling, its just that i feel really lost as to what i should do. The most low risk solution is to stay where i am at and just collect that pay check, but with the reality of rising prices and cost of living, i feel the need to do 'something' to get myself out of this.

Thank you for your time to read this wall of text and i do hope that you could provide some advice :|

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Old 27-09-2011, 06:12 PM
madgoat
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Quote:
1) The hospitality industry does not pay well and as i move on in life (marriage, home, family, etc) my financial obligations are in time going to take up a larger proportion of my salary (which sadly currently, my salary is lesser than that of a fresh grad )
To start off, how much exactly are you drawing a month now? I ask this because I realise everyone seems to be complaining being underpaid and a lot of times this stems from unrealistic expectations rather than really be paid poorly.

Quote:
2) I feel a sense of career stagnation. Do i move on to another job? If so what job? I would still love to do some form of financial research though it seems given my academic background and job experience i am doubtful any company would give the chance to an individual no matter how much they are willing to learn or step up to the role. Or should i take 'upgrade' myself academically so as to get that first job towards that in financial research? This itself leads to a whole bunch of questions of whether to take a MBA/CFA/ MFE
You mentioned that you failed CFA L1 twice. Did you fail because you lacked the time to study? This is very important because in all honesty CFA L1&L2 are like Finance101. They are very simple and most people who are numbers inclined should pass it quite easily, so CFA accredition is more like bare minimum requirement in the Finance industry rather than a selling point.

If you failed because you did not study, then I urge you to work hard and make sure you pass on the third try as this is really bare basics. However, if you have studied and still failed twice, it may be an indication that you really are not cut out to be a financial analyst. Nothing wrong with that of course, but you will likely drown in the competition and work if you are now struggling to even pass L1.

Another thing I would also like to add, and this is speaking from experience, financial analysis does not equate to being a good stock picker. The world is full off analysts who write fancy reports and make stock calls that become the butt of everyone's jokes later on. Business acumen is the key successful ingredient for many successful investors / traders, not financial analysis.

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Old 27-09-2011, 10:09 PM
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well my current salary is $2600, so after CPF i take home a little less than 2100

deducting:
money for mother - $450
bills - $400
money for forced savings plans (S.O. is unemployed for 9 months, so i'm bearing full amt) - $600

Remaining : $550

this is even before deductions for transport and meals and savings (for 'disposable income')

you could say that i have unrealistic expectations but when i compare with my peers who have graduated with me, i am significantly behind all of them (i know i shouldn't compare but one should have a yard stick no?)

As for CFA level 1, i did both times with abt less than a month of full time studying :|(i.e. clear leave and study) and i am rather numerically inclined. first time i failed was due to FSA and Ethics, second time was due to Economics. Every calculation topic i had no issues.

i get your point with regards to financial analysts and stocking picking, i would just say that i want to learn the skills etc, i mean surely investment firms rely upon their research analysts to pick investments for them no? :|

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Old 28-09-2011, 10:42 AM
madgoat
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Originally Posted by tcyeric View Post
well my current salary is $2600, so after CPF i take home a little less than 2100

deducting:
money for mother - $450
bills - $400
money for forced savings plans (S.O. is unemployed for 9 months, so i'm bearing full amt) - $600

Remaining : $550

this is even before deductions for transport and meals and savings (for 'disposable income')

you could say that i have unrealistic expectations but when i compare with my peers who have graduated with me, i am significantly behind all of them (i know i shouldn't compare but one should have a yard stick no?)
There is nothing wrong with comparing among your peers to get a sense on where you are, but the problem is most people have no way of getting first hand knowledge on what their peers are earning.

This results in a lot of hearsay, BS and big cannon stories floating around. Relying on such nonsense does nothing but generate unhealthy envy. For a start, I wouln't categorise making $2600 as "earning lesser than fresh graduates." Most non-technical degree graduates get $2500-$2800 for their first jobs while certain hot engineering disciplines do offer up to $3000 for a freshie.

Civil service tends to pay higher at first due to all that nonsense about paying for honors and NS, but their pay progression tapers off once you are in for 5 years. In short, I would say $2600 is a typical experience of a fresh grad, not lesser in any sense.

Quote:
As for CFA level 1, i did both times with abt less than a month of full time studying :|(i.e. clear leave and study) and i am rather numerically inclined. first time i failed was due to FSA and Ethics, second time was due to Economics. Every calculation topic i had no issues.
Then really no choice, start the hardcore brute memorising route for these modules on your third try.

Quote:
i get your point with regards to financial analysts and stocking picking, i would just say that i want to learn the skills etc, i mean surely investment firms rely upon their research analysts to pick investments for them no? :|
No. For a start, "investment firm" is a very broad based term that means different things to different people. Many trading houses rely solely on technical analysis (charting + indicators) that require zero understanding on finance. There are also many commodities based brokers that trade futures for oil, precious metals, coal, corn, sugar etc, they rely more on program trading and hardly any financial analysis other than a broad understanding of the global economy,

Then there are the many boutique hedge funds that invest in derivatives, swaps, futures, forex etc. who use esoteric complex modelling and trading rules which includes many economic and non-economic variables that has nothing to do with financial analysis of individual companies. Many ETFs or index funds invest based on indexing mechanics that once again, have also nothing to do with how good a financial analyst you are.

If you do in-house acquisition, financial modelling is usually a small part of a much wider due deligence process. No senior management is going to sit down and read your buy / sell report and base their acquisition decision on that. You can count yourself lucky if they even bother to include a Financial Analyst in the process.

I think what you have in mind is equity funds that adopt a value based investment approach. While many banks and research companies employ equities analysts to publish reports, it is also an industry open sercret that they don't really follow their recommendations.

In short, your perception of a financial analyst in an investment firm is a very small subset of the entire financial investment world. If you truly like Finance per se, by all means carry on with CFA. However, if what you are really interested in is to be in the investment action and reaping big bucks in the process, I urge you to keep an open mind and not be too adamant in your train of thought of getting CFA, publish buy/sell report, work in Research department etc. The investment world is much wider than that.

As for picking up skills for individual stock picking, I would say having some basic Finance knowledge is mandatory, but beyond that I do not see much value in being a successful stock picker. If that were true, I should be seeing a disproportionate number of successful retail investors from the Finance or Treasury department, but from what I can observe the good ones are all over the place from different backgrounds that most of the time have nothing to do with Finance.
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Old 28-09-2011, 02:58 PM
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then again its been 4 years since i graduated lol

thanks for the reality check madgoat i truly appreciate it i guess you yourself are in the midst of all these eh? care to share how you even embarked upon this career choice?
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Old 28-09-2011, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tcyeric View Post
then again its been 4 years since i graduated lol

thanks for the reality check madgoat i truly appreciate it i guess you yourself are in the midst of all these eh? care to share how you even embarked upon this career choice?
No, my full time job is not in banking & finance, it’s actually something that has almost nothing to do with investments ;-)

Through a chain of events and circumstance, myself and 4 others formed a unique investment vehicle that operates like a hybrid of investment club and partnership about 7 years ago, so my role is a little like a part time fund manager. 1 of my partners in this venture is pretty much true and true trading guys for their whole career lives, so I do have some knowledge of how the financial world works in general.

What I do observe of many Singaporean youngsters embarking on their career is that they tend to be quite single tracked and seem unwilling or unable to make use of their strengths in off beaten career paths. That was why I pointed out that if you are more interested in investments rather than finance, there are many more options than the traditional route of getting CFA, joining a bank, performing financial analysis etc.
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Old 28-09-2011, 08:46 PM
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whoa impressive what you have going on

well quite a few from my 'generation' are rather uncertain of what they wanna be, studying cause they have to and going where the money is (which eventually many from my batch went to banks and other financial companies).

We weren't really groomed to know our strengths, if not we'd know what we'd wanna do and excel in them no?

will definitely take what you have said into consideration, have to take the time to think through but then again, where to get that 'first step'? to be honest i'm rather clueless as to where to move on to :|
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Old 28-09-2011, 10:13 PM
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The world is full off analysts who write fancy reports and make stock calls that become the butt of everyone's jokes later on.
Is this a fancy report?

More pain to come for Singapore’s property market

Written by The Edge
Tuesday, 13 January 2009

IF YOU thought the local property market was fairly close to bottom and it was time to start looking at bargains, think again. That’s what US banking giant Citigroup says in a new report on Singapore property titled Bear Trap: Sell into Strength. The way Citi’s property analysts Wendy Koh and Tan Chun Keong see it, there is likely to be a lot more pain in Singapore property in year ahead before we will even see the glimmer of any gain.

Citi bases its pessimistic Singapore property outlook on deteriorating economic fundamentals. The US bank now expects Singapore economy to contract 2.8% this year following a mere 1.5% GDP growth last year and 7.7% growth in 2007. Citigroup strategists are forecasting the benchmark STI will fall to 1,500 again over the next few months before rebounding later in the year to current levels.

As the economy continues to contract, job losses mount and bank lending slows, Citi forecasts mid–tier to high-end residential property prices in Singapore could fall another 35% bringing “prices back to 1998 levels” or down nearly 45% from their peaks.

For the mid-tier segment, where prices have already fallen some 20% from their peaks a year ago, Citigroup forecasts prices are likely to fall further in the absence of an overall housing oversupply. “For luxury properties such as Ardmore Park that have (already) seen price correction of approximately 35% from a year ago, we think prices could potentially fall by another 30-40% to reach the 2003 and 1998 levels,” the Citi report said. This implies a 55–60% decline from their peaks in 2007.


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Old 29-09-2011, 06:47 PM
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Is this a fancy report?

More pain to come for Singapore’s property market

Written by The Edge
Tuesday, 13 January 2009

IF YOU thought the local property market was fairly close to bottom and it was time to start looking at bargains, think again. That’s what US banking giant Citigroup says in a new report on Singapore property titled Bear Trap: Sell into Strength. The way Citi’s property analysts Wendy Koh and Tan Chun Keong see it, there is likely to be a lot more pain in Singapore property in year ahead before we will even see the glimmer of any gain.

Citi bases its pessimistic Singapore property outlook on deteriorating economic fundamentals. The US bank now expects Singapore economy to contract 2.8% this year following a mere 1.5% GDP growth last year and 7.7% growth in 2007. Citigroup strategists are forecasting the benchmark STI will fall to 1,500 again over the next few months before rebounding later in the year to current levels.

As the economy continues to contract, job losses mount and bank lending slows, Citi forecasts mid–tier to high-end residential property prices in Singapore could fall another 35% bringing “prices back to 1998 levels” or down nearly 45% from their peaks.

For the mid-tier segment, where prices have already fallen some 20% from their peaks a year ago, Citigroup forecasts prices are likely to fall further in the absence of an overall housing oversupply. “For luxury properties such as Ardmore Park that have (already) seen price correction of approximately 35% from a year ago, we think prices could potentially fall by another 30-40% to reach the 2003 and 1998 levels,” the Citi report said. This implies a 55–60% decline from their peaks in 2007.
This 2009 report is totally crap. Someone should track all these reports and highlight all the totally nonsense predictions and projections.

That said, in a somewhat related study, someone compared stock picks from stock analysts with those from monkeys. Guess what. The monkeys did slightly better.
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Old 29-09-2011, 06:49 PM
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I feel CFAs are over-rated. Unless you are planning to work in asset management or a hedge fund having a CFA doesn't really make a big difference.

Most of my friends in banks do not have CFAs and the only 1 guy who has it and works at treasury says it didn't really do much for him cept make his already impressive qualifications look even better (he got first class honors from NTU!)...

Other areas which use 'financial analysts' in banks also include their commerical banking, corporate banking departments. They always require people who know how to do financial analysis to 'review' their customer's annual performance and/or new prospects. This involves reviewing their financial performance and indicators, projecting their cashflows, analyzing their industry risk, management etc.

So can always consider that too.
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