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It is my impression that it is impossible for any private individual in Canada to get paid legally as an portfolio manager no matter how many securities courses or exams he can pass UNLESS he can obtain specific industry work experience from an established financial institution. Registraiton requirements (ie National Instrument 31-103) ask for a CFA or CIM designation in addition to "investment management experience", but it is impossible to get a CFA without work experience in the industry. Even if one passes all CFA exams, he needs to have 4 years of full time qualified position doing mostly analytical work for a institution (eg no accounting, auditing or any non-investment jobs) before he can be given the CFA charter. The CIM designation requires IMT and PMT courses, and CSI's site states that IMT students need to have "a minimum 2 years industry experience".

This suggests that in order to realize the goal of becoming a paid portfolio manager, not only do I need to pass all CFA exams (where the majority of candidates fail), I must keep job hunting until a financial institution will, somehow, hire me to carry out investment analysis for them in a full time paid job. This premise seems a bit unrealistic when I read about people who passed the CFA exams but can't find work experience. My previous assumption was that passing certain licensing exams would enable one to handle portfolios professionally, but it seems that I was being naive.

Can anyone who is familiar with security regulations confirm all this?


It does feel like one of bigger catch-22s I've encountered. In this case, competency in portfolio management is apparently measured indirectly by social, networking and job hunting skills, and not solely by investment knowledge or performance. Who says one will not be stuck in a bottom rung job for years while dreaming to be granted access in "investment analysis" by upper management? The U.S. is like paradise in comparison for would-be capitalists: write one series 65, no sponsor needed (unlike for series 7, though there are sponsors who takes almost anyone), and you get to run your own hedge fund. So it's series 65 vs CFAI+II+III+4y investment industry experience. The Americans seem to believe that competency can be measured by *gasp* standardized tests alone.

That's life, quit whining and deal with it. That's my Canadian experience, eh? I wonder if the average licensed Canadian portfolio manager beat his clearly less-qualified American counterpart recently. Even less qualified outsiders of the industry like me have seen our own portfolios reach an all time high this year. Hopefully, those managers have added more value to their investors.
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