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Despite your "good head for investing" comment, how can you prove that you have this talent? Over what period have you proven your skill (over what cycle)? Of course, everyone looks smart when markets are rising but does the emperor have clothes on when the tide goes out?
If you want to begin with a reputable firm, you certainly will need a college degree. Most quality firms want more the "gut" feeling when it comes to hiring investment professionals. I'm sure there are a few you can provide your brokerage statement which shows substantial gains and substantiated reasons for successful purchase or shorting. When I say substantial, I don't mean 20-30% ytd. With a small account, I'm talking triple digit plus gains to wow someone.