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Is the investment management industry for me? Atypical routes to finance – an interview with a dentist


Nga Pham, Senior Research Fellow, Monash University and CFA Society Melbourne committee member, sat down with Ian Chu, Director of CFA Society Perth, to discuss his pathway to a career in investment management.


Nga:   Hi Ian. Thank you for being here today to share the story of your career. Can you tell us about your journey moving into the investment industry??

Ian:     After I finished my Bachelor of Dentistry, I moved to Tasmania and lived a very quiet life there – with no nightlife! I missed the metropolitan lifestyle. I was still managing my personal investment portfolio, and it made me realise that I was so passionate about investing. So after five years of being a dentist, I decided to make the move.


Nga:   How did you prepare for this career switch?

Ian:     I thought a lot about what I should do to land myself a job in finance. I happened to hear about the CFA Program and knew that investment funds like to hire CFA charterholders. I also considered an MBA course at that time, but it focused more on management instead of finance. I immediately started studying and completed Levels 1, 2, and 3 within two years. That’s when I met someone at an event who introduced me to my first job.


Nga:   Sounds like an easy move for you?

Ian:     Not quite! But I do believe the industry values diversity of skills and people from different backgrounds, such as medicine, pharmacy, the sciences and engineering. As I used to “live and breathe” the healthcare sector, I have specialised knowledge of how the healthcare system works. It is my advantage in the equity analyst/investment role. I also bring different insights and perspectives to the analysis beyond just the calculations and numbers on the spreadsheet.


Nga:   Have you ever regretted it?

Ian:     No. It has been a rewarding career for me so far. At first, many people thought that giving up on being a dentist after so many years of training would be crazy, especially Mum and Dad and coming from an Asian background. In hindsight, it was a good move that has been intellectually and financially rewarding. I earned my financial freedom and independence. I like what I am doing now, including lots of travel and meeting lots of people.


Nga:   Any advice from you to those who want to switch their career to finance?

Ian:    If equity analysis or investing is your passion, maintain your portfolio, understand your convictions, your wins and your losses. When you search for your first job in finance, add the personal investment experience to your CV and be ready to demonstrate that.


Nga:   That’s great! Thanks so much Ian!


By: Nga Pham, Senior Research Fellow, Monash University and CFA Society Melbourne committee member

Date: 28 March 2023

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