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10/31/10

So, the age old question...what is more useful for a long term career in finance, the CFA, the MBA, or the CAIA? Wait, a minute, what even is the CAIA? This article will go through the pros and cons of pursuing each of these three certifications. The upfront economic costs and opportunity costs of the MBA may be significantly higher than CFA requirements, but an MBA does certainly have many intangible benefits such as networking and develops a broader base of professional problem solving and professional skills. The CFA is very targeted towards finance and investment management careers, and is now being sought out more and more by professional firms for the recruitment process.

The CFA, many argue, is also not as much as a door opener, as it is a career accelerator once one is already in a buy side or investments role at a firm. Conversely, the MBA opens many recruiting possibilities for candidates interested in the recruiting process. The CAIA is a relatively new exam focusing on the alternative investments field, and has yet to be tested for its impact on the job front.

WHAT IS THE CFA DESIGNATION?

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is an international professional certification offered by the CFA Institute to financial analysts who complete a series of three exams. To become a CFA Charter holder candidates must pass each of three six-hour exams, possess a bachelor's degree (or equivalent, as assessed by CFA institute) and have 48 months of qualified, professional work experience. CFA charter holders are also obligated to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards governing their professional conduct.

The CFA is a qualification for finance and investment professionals, particularly in the fields of Asset Management and the research function covering stocks, bonds and their derivative assets. The program focuses on portfolio management and financial analysis, and provides a generalist knowledge of other areas of corporate finance, securities valuation, and accounting.

Today, CFA Institute has more than 101,000 members around the world, including more than 89,000 CFA charter holders.

WHAT IS THE CAIA ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENT DESIGNATION?

Founded in 2002, the CAIA Association is the sponsoring body for the only globally-recognized designation for Alternative Investment expertise. Across the globe, the designation demonstrates mastery of alternative investment concepts, tools, and practices, and promotes adherence to the highest standards of professional conduct in private equity, real estate, distressed debt, and hedge funds.

The CAIA program's diverse curriculum appeals to investment advisors, consultants and analysts, fund managers and administrators, accountants, lawyers, academics, and compliance and back office personnel.

Candidates include seasoned professionals looking to explore new areas within the AI markets, generalists wishing to add another asset class to their investment arsenal, and new industry participants seeking to establish a core understanding of alternative investment.

The CAIA Association is a dynamic organization that reflects its membership's interests and provides them with a vibrant global network. We are committed to developing industry skills and educational standards, and provide the industry's first and only designation for alternative investment specialists.

WHAT IS AN MBA?

The Master of Business Administration (MBA or M.B.A.) is a degree in business administration, which attracts people from a wide range of academic disciplines. The MBA designation originated in the U.S., emerging from the late 19th century as the country industrialized and companies sought out more scientific approaches to management. The core courses in the MBA program are designed to introduce students to the various areas of business such as accounting, marketing, human resources, operations management, etc. Students in some MBA programs have the option to select an area or multiple areas of concentration and focus approximately one-third of their studies in this subject.

Accreditation bodies exist specifically for MBA programs to ensure consistency and quality of graduate business education. Business schools in many countries offer MBA programs tailored to full-time, part-time, executive, and distance learning students, with specialized concentrations.

PROS & CONS TO DESIGNATIONS

In a recent article, Chad Sandstedt, CFA, discusses the following very well:

"It's a question asked by nearly every aspiring finance professional at one time or another -- is my time (and money) best spent pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst designation or a Masters in Business Administration? There's no question that both are valuable credentials, each are capable of delivering higher salaries and better advancement prospects. However, the answer to this question depends on many factors, including your professional goals, background and resources, both in terms of time and money.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
One obvious difference between the CFA program and an MBA program is the breadth of the curriculum. A good analogy is that the curriculum of the CFA program is a foot wide and a mile deep while the curriculum of MBA programs are a mile wide and a foot deep.

If you plan on working in finance, the CFA program will provide a wealth of knowledge. However, if your career path veers out of finance, the chances that you'll be able to utilize the curriculum are limited. In contrast, an MBA program is likely to provide exposure across numerous fields of study that can be applied in almost any position, whether in finance or not. As such, potential CFA candidates are advised to step back and assess their commitment to a career in finance.

For those who are working in another field and view the CFA program as a way to break into a finance career, it may be more appropriate to first obtain a position in the field, even if it's at an entry level, to assess your commitment to a finance career before beginning the CFA program.

What's the Price of Admission?
One of the most popular motivations for enrolling in the CFA program or an MBA program is to create new career opportunities. Today, many finance jobs require either a CFA designation or an MBA. What's the cost to become qualified for these positions? While there are no exact numbers for either the CFA program or an MBA program, we can make a few assumptions that will apply to many aspiring professionals.

First, let's look at the cost of the CFA program. Our first assumption is that it takes, on average, four exams to complete all three levels of the CFA program. Enrollment and registration fees for four exams will cost $1,815 with early registration. The cost of preparation materials can vary widely between CFA candidates. At the low end of the price range is the purchase of study notes and textbooks. Realistically, many candidates require additional preparation such as study seminars, software, online programs, audio programs, video programs or flashcards. The cost of such a comprehensive study plan could be an additional $2,000 per year. Given our relatively aggressive assumption that all three exams will be successfully completed in four attempts, we will assume a fairly aggressive study plan with $1,000 of study material per year, for a total of $4,000 over four years. Therefore, the total cost of obtaining the CFA designation, including registration fees and test preparation materials, would be $5,815.

The cost of an MBA can range dramatically, from a part-time program at a state university to a full-time program at an Ivy League school, the costs may range from $20,000 on the low end to over $100,000 on the high end.

In summary, the cost of obtaining an MBA will range from four to twenty times the cost of the CFA program.

What's Your Time Horizon?
In the previous section we listed an assumption that it will take the average CFA candidate four exams to complete all three levels of the CFA program. Up until December 2003, all three levels of the CFA exam were administered just once per year. In December 2003, the Level I CFA exam was available to be taken twice per year. If a CFA candidate takes the Level I exam in December, the Level II exam the following June, and the Level III exam one year later, it would take approximately two years if you assume that studying for the Level I exam begins in June. While this is certainly an achievable task and there are people who accomplish this, it's becoming very difficult to do with lower pass rates and more demanding careers that allow less study time to prepare for each exam. Since we assume it will take four attempts to pass all three levels of the CFA program, we will assume these four exams will be completed in three years.

In contrast, most full-time MBA programs can be completed in two years. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of pursuing an MBA compared to the CFA designation, because it's likely to qualify you for a better paying job about a year earlier than the CFA program will. If you're able to increase your compensation by $30,000 with an MBA, you will be making $30,000 more than you will be making in the CFA program for an entire year.

I've developed a spreadsheet that computes the net present value of both the CFA program and an MBA program. For illustration, here's a hypothetical scenario with the following assumptions:

Current Salary: $60,000
Cost of Capital: 5%
Time to Complete CFA Program: 3 Years
Annual Cost of CFA Program: $1,938
Projected Salary Post-CFA Program: $100,000
Time to Complete MBA Program: 2 Years
Annual Cost of MBA Program: $35,000
Projected Salary Post-MBA Program: $100,000

Based on these assumptions, the Net Present Value ("NPV") of the CFA program is $204,394 while the NPV of the MBA program is $177,884. This means that, based on these assumptions, the CFA program is a better investment than an MBA program. However, a change in assumptions can change the answer. If you expect an MBA to deliver a higher salary than you expect after attaining your CFA charter, the answer may be very different. We've made this spreadsheet available so that you can use your own assumptions and see what alternative has the most value for you.

Self- Study vs. The Classroom?
Perhaps the biggest difference between the CFA program and an MBA is the learning format. The CFA exam is essentially a self-study program that allows candidates to move at their own pace and study as their schedule permits. There are no classes to attend unless you choose to sign up for a review course (for a list of review courses, visit our test prep directory). There are no pop quizzes or progress exams, rather there is the equivalent of one big "final exam" for each level where you must be ready to apply everything you've studied.

The CFA Institute does provide a recommended study timeline that can be used to gauge your progress as you approach the exam date. However, it's up to you to keep up and there will be nobody holding you to the schedule, so self-discipline is important particularly given the quantity of material covered at each level. A great number of very smart people have failed the CFA exam simply because they procrastinated and were unable to catch up.

In contrast, a traditional MBA program has a great deal of structure since it's classroom based. Each class typically consists of several quizzes and exams so it's easy to tell when you fall behind. The learning format in an MBA program is also more likely to be lecture-based, whereas the learning format for the CFA program is text-based.

So, What's Best for Me?
For those individuals who are committed to a career in finance, the CFA program offers a unique opportunity to learn while you work. Very few professions have access to comparable opportunities to earn a renowned designation through self-study at a relatively low cost. However, if you're relatively uncertain about a career in finance, an MBA may be a better choice since it applies to other fields.

In summary, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to continuing your education. Each individual brings a unique background with a unique set of goals. As such, it's important to assess your own situation to determine which opportunity is right for you before you make a significant investment of time and money."

For more information, please visit http://levacademy.com/blog.

Comments (260)

10/31/10
  1. cfa -your in less then 15% if you finish in three years(may be wrong but i know its very low)
  2. mba - if you go to a top school your make more then 100k
  3. caia - only helps if your in that market already
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1/31/12
monty09:

1. cfa -your in less then 15% if you finish in three years(may be wrong but i know its very low)
2. mba - if you go to a top school your make more then 100k
3. caia - only helps if your in that market already

It's actually lower. The statistical odds of passing all three on your first try are roughly 4%. The realistic number I heard is around 10% of people pass in a straight shot. Anyone that downplays the long-term career benefits of the CFA is an idiot. That said, I would still like a Top MBA over the CFA, but why not have both?

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

10/31/10

If you show up at a bank/consulting firm/etc. with an MBA, you're on the partner/MD/etc. track. If you show up with the CFA, you're still an analyst, albeit in all likelihood one who knows more finance than everyone else. And maybe I'm out of the loop, but I've never heard of someone looking at a big-time finance job that REQUIRED the CFA.

The MBA and CFA are really apples and oranges. If you're not in finance and want to break in, the MBA is a no-brainer. If you're already working in finance and not trying to change jobs, you just keep that job and self-study if there's something else you want to learn. Of course if you're a lawyer or something, the CFA might be useful to break in, but in the vast majority of cases the CFA is just an add-on in an attempt to get a finance job, while the MBA is the meat of it.

As for the CAIA: of the multiple guys I know who've landed in PE/HF, not one has the CAIA. In fact, this sounds like an ad for that certification.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.

10/31/10

Definitely not an ad for a CAIA. I have the books, and they are not that useful. I personally do not know anyone who has it. Great to get feedback. The CFA is definitely not required for banking, but is definitely a worthwhile credential.

10/31/10

The percentage of people who pass is very low, about 30-40% for level I, then 40% level II and III. The question is if .3 * .4 * .4 makes a 5% pass rate...probably not, wouldn't make sense.

10/31/10

no that really doesn't make sense USC. If I am someone who passes the first time on L1, then it doesn't necessarily mean I only have 40% chance to pass L2. The 5% doesn't take into account people who fail multiple times on the same test and bring down the average. If you pass 1 and 2 the first time, you more than likely have a greater than 40% chance to pass L3 the first time.

10/31/10

what is the point of this? to drive traffic to your blog?

11/1/10

An MBA from a top school should yield $125K+ in finance. Receiving the CFA charter is not going to bump you from $60K to $100K+. That's not realistic

11/1/10

MBA from top 5 school > CFA > MBA from everywhere else. All other designations are hit or miss depending on which firm and what job you're doing.

Also, a CFA is not obtained by passing 3 exams. To add the 3 letters, you must have 48 months of "relevant" job experience. And if you're in a relevant job already, you're probably already making $100k+. Getting the CFA only looks good on paper (aka, less chance of getting weeded out on electronic applications for jobs). It also makes the headhunter drool a little bit when they gloss over your resume.

CFA doesn't add $ to you salary. What it can do is make you slightly more qualified to finding the next job.

6/5/11
Buyside Noob:

MBA from top 5 school > CFA > MBA from everywhere else.

That makes no sense. An MBA from a top 6-15 program would still trump the CFA (think dartmouth, columbia, stern, darden, etc). CFA will never be on par with an MBA when it comes to elite finance jobs.

6/5/11

I'm currently studying CFA (appear L1 in Dec 2011) I have around 4 years of Fund Accounting & Portfolio Valuations back office experience. I have a bachelors degree in Accounting. I was last working as a Team Leader in India in one of the US based IB. I have recently quit my job to study for CFA & Chartered Accountancy (of India). Quite unsure after reading this material if I'm on the right path?

6/5/11

Heres an idea: pose a question on WSO that has historically drawn large amounts of posters, said posters and guests view the link to the blog I cleverly placed at the bottom of an overly long post no one actually read through, and increase traffic for my blog...Brilliant!

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

6/5/11

1 in 15 people pass all three exams in their first try

and only 1 in 5 who start the program finish it.

1/30/12

MBA from top B-School trumps all. Even if you're not going into finance afterwards, a top b-school in your resume will get you "anywhere"

1/31/12
ERGOHOC:

MBA from top B-School trumps all. Even if you're not going into finance afterwards, a top b-school in your resume will get you "anywhere"

Yup. The CFA has become oversaturated. You have back office types who pass it and are unable to get into a front-office investing or research role.

Meanwhile, people at M7 b-schools, without any relevant experience, easily get interviews at the top investment management firms. A CFA is a nice certificate to have once you're already in the industry while a top MBA completely transforms your career trajectory. Big difference.

2/1/12
Brady4MVP:
ERGOHOC:

MBA from top B-School trumps all. Even if you're not going into finance afterwards, a top b-school in your resume will get you "anywhere"

Yup. The CFA has become oversaturated. You have back office types who pass it and are unable to get into a front-office investing or research role.

Meanwhile, people at M7 b-schools, without any relevant experience, easily get interviews at the top investment management firms. A CFA is a nice certificate to have once you're already in the industry while a top MBA completely transforms your career trajectory. Big difference.

What do you think about people that use the CFA to bolster their MBA opportunities at top schools? My goal is to have the CFA designation before pursuing an MBA. I imagine it would be seen favorably by the more quantitative programs.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

1/31/12

I highly doubt anyone wants to read your blog dude

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

1/31/12

I'm looking at doing my CFA before my MBA, its more useful for me. :)

5/17/12

Well, in capital budgeting, you need to account for opportunity costs (economic perspective)... You can't just account for tuitions fees.

Depending on the hourly wage and the time spent on studying, the forgone income translate into a huge opportunity cost. Assuming 300 hours are spent on the CFA (Level I only) with a $30 hourly wage (assuming no bonus for the sake of simplicity) --> $9,000. Adding to that the preparation materials... The CFA is much more expensive than it seems...

'Look at the big things while they are still small...'

2/27/13

Drawrof:
Well, in capital budgeting, you need to account for opportunity costs (economic perspective)... You can't just account for tuitions fees.

Depending on the hourly wage and the time spent on studying, the forgone income translate into a huge opportunity cost. Assuming 300 hours are spent on the CFA (Level I only) with a $30 hourly wage (assuming no bonus for the sake of simplicity) --> $9,000. Adding to that the preparation materials... The CFA is much more expensive than it seems...

The marginal hourly rate of a salaried job is $0. You probably save money by sacrificing some of your social life.

Best Response
10/29/12

in this economy you need anything that can give you an edge - everybody here who says a CFA doesn't matter doesn't have one

if you have the choice of drinking beer every weekend with the boys or studying for the CFA and getting it - go get it - it can only make you more competitive - i have 23 months qualifiable experience but got laid off - im taking the exams while working at a job that doesn't qualify towards the experience.

IF I ever re-enter I will have the tests complete and will need just another 25 months of qualifiable experience - i am also applying for a part-time mba that is a top 25 program

more quality credentials help you out - PERIOD

Hard work pays off - this is America. There is no for sure shot on how to make it. I have known people that have went to Booth had great jobs, then lost it, then bounced around for years. There is no recipe for success. I know somebody with a 4th tier law degree making 1M+ doing DWI law. There are so many ways to make it in this country. You don't need a MBA from a top business school to do money management. The biggest firms hire there, but if you are good you get noticed. Just bust your ass and get in the best places you can and do your best. That's all you can do afterall.

2/27/13

jknasse2:

more quality credentials help you out - PERIOD

!!!!
4/13/15

this! +1

4/14/15

jknasse2:

in this economy you need anything that can give you an edge - everybody here who says a CFA doesn't matter doesn't have one

if you have the choice of drinking beer every weekend with the boys or studying for the CFA and getting it - go get it - it can only make you more competitive - i have 23 months qualifiable experience but got laid off - im taking the exams while working at a job that doesn't qualify towards the experience.

I realize this post is long dead, but since it was bumped, I think this quote provides a bit of a cautionary tale. Credentials matter, to be certain. However, this poster may have been better served "choosing to drink beer with the boys" and building his network rather than studying for another piece of paper. The credential - MBA, CFA, whatever other alphabet soup you want to add to your name - is just the barrier to entry. A solid network will create many more opportunities than another frame on the wall.

4/14/15

OnGBanker:

jknasse2 wrote:

in this economy you need anything that can give you an edge - everybody here who says a CFA doesn't matter doesn't have one
if you have the choice of drinking beer every weekend with the boys or studying for the CFA and getting it - go get it - it can only make you more competitive - i have 23 months qualifiable experience but got laid off - im taking the exams while working at a job that doesn't qualify towards the experience.

I realize this post is long dead, but since it was bumped, I think this quote provides a bit of a cautionary tale. Credentials matter, to be certain. However, this poster may have been better served "choosing to drink beer with the boys" and building his network rather than studying for another piece of paper. The credential - MBA, CFA, whatever other alphabet soup you want to add to your name - is just the barrier to entry. A solid network will create many more opportunities than another frame on the wall.


This argument has always seems very weak to me. You can't network every day, people don't want to drink on Mondays, and you will run out of relevant people in your sector to speak with (unless you just want anything in IBD, in which case your story will likely have little flow / rationale). I see no reason to not have both.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

4/14/15

I have hear that CFA is much more impressive

4/14/15

Anyone?!?!?!

4/14/15

Really depends on what you want to do -

Accounting? CPA

Consulting/switch careers/get a fresh start? MBA (although the value of this goes down exponentially as you go down the tiers i.e. Harvard/Wharton etc. MBA = awesome; Wichita State MBA = not-very-awesome)

Corp Finance-ish gig? CFA (unless you get into a top MBA)

Disclaimer - I'm pretty sure I want to get an MBA/MS in something, and don't know all that much about the CFA program. Anyone else who knows more, please feel free to correct me!

4/14/15

I disagree about CFA for Corp Fin. Here's how I'd see it:

MBA: If from a top program, it will open up the most doors and the greatest variety of doors. You can do IB/PE/HF/Consulting, etc. from a top-tier MBA, but you can also pursue corporate finance jobs, general management, marketing, etc. If you get into a good program that gets recruited for the companies you want, I'd say this is probably the best just because of the variety, but a lot of people will say that it's value diminishes rapidly once you move down the rankings list.

CPA: This is good for accounting, but is also pretty solid for corporate roles as well. Lots of Controllers, CFOs, financial analysts have CPA designations, so it's useful for accounting or FP&A type of roles. It's not that useful for IB (doesn't hurt though because it signals that you know your accounting well) and it's pretty irrelevant for the PE/HF universe, but if you want to do corporate finance, cost accounting, or maybe corporate development, it's not good to have. I know people will challenge me on the corp dev part, but at least in my experience, I've met more than a few corp dev guys who have a CPA even though it's not the majority (most have an IB/MBB background), so I think it's possible if you do well in your other finance roles within the company and impress the right people..

CFA: I can't comment on this as much, but I've heard it's useful for Asset Management, equity research, and hedge funds. It won't get you a job necessarily, but it shows that you have a good base in finance (obviously) and it shows that you are dedicated to grind through all those tests, so it's pretty viable if you want to get into the aforementioned segments. You can also do it while working (my friend did this), so it's also useful for people looking to change careers. I've also heard it's useful for treasury type of roles in corporate finance, but I can't comment too much on that either.

Correct me if I'm wrong on any of these, but those are my thoughts based on my research, my discussions with professionals, and what I've read on here.

4/14/15

It really depends on what you mean by "steering your career towards a finance direction."

If you want to work in a typical corporate finance role (controller, CFO, treasury, etc.) then the CPA will be helpful and CFA will be almost completely useless. In fact you'll never get to become a charterholder even if you pass the tests - you need 4 years of investment management or advisory experience. The CPA alone won't open doors up on its own...you'll either have to network hard or go through a MBA program.

If you want to work in banking then your best best is MBA program, or maybe taking some of those Training the Street modeling classes + lots of hard networking and a willingness to start as a first year analyst. CFA exams have very little application to Ibanking; CPA has some but it's probablly not worth the time and effort.

If you want to work at a mutual fund or asset manager then the CFA and/or MBA is best path forward.

4/14/15

CFA is very narrow --- only a specific field within finance -- portfolio management. Other fields like banking or fund of funds wont' really need it. FOr equity research it can be helpful.

My buddy is taking CFA Level 2 -- it is a ton of material, great to learn but almost certainly you'll never use it unless you're in the field of portfolio management. It seriously sucks up months out of his life. And in the end, is it worth it? Well...risk averse ppl just want certifications...something to hold on to...so there's that at least.

4/14/15

Of course, given what I do now, I would vote for an MBA, in that it gives you a lot of options. I can tell you, after working in Asset Management for three investment management firms, including Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRock) and Franklin Templeton Investments, that indeed, the CFA is valued by those in portfolio management. At some of those firms, believe it or not, the MBA is not required, but helpful.

If you are interested in doing deals, that is investment banking, private equity or M&A work, then you do need an MBA to get your foot in the door. If you are transactional, then a CPA probably won't help that much, and you may find that you are coerced into roles that are less client-facing (not as lucrative or fun?)

If you do decide to take random securities courses, one of the benefits might be to network with others in that industry so you can learn more about what other options are out there. You have lots of choices, and it looks like a good record so far, both of which will help you in this journey.

Good luck!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
/forums/b-school-qa-... away!

4/14/15

alphabet soup

4/14/15

Maybe if you went to a shitty b-school or you're bored.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

4/14/15

Is this even a question?

1 If its a Free MBA top 20, take the MBA.

or

2 CFA which you won't finish for a MINIMUM of 3 years?

3 is not even an option. Do either 1 or 2, THEN to #3.

If the MBA isn't top 20, take the CFA. Start on the CFA either way, you'll want to have CFA just to say your a Charterholder. It's impressive.

4/14/15

How certain are you that #1 gets you to the spot you want internally? Reading between the lines, it doesn't seem you think it's a real high probability.

4/14/15
DickFuld:

How certain are you that #1 gets you to the spot you want internally? Reading between the lines, it doesn't seem you think it's a real high probability.

Honestly, id say maybe 33% - 50% to get into our fund business. I could get into our relationship management/sales for our funds with no question (which is still much better than what I am doing now).

4/14/15

My vote is for the CFA. If you want to do FO AM, the CFA is a requirement for most jobs. If you don't have the motivation to study for it how does your firm know you're going to work hard to make the right investment decisions? Just have completed level 1 can help you make the transition and will probably be more beneficial than a no name MBA.

4/14/15

you wanted to go to NYC / Chicago right?

you just gotta align your goals with action. doubt that unranked MBA can be much helpful. CFA could. Networking could too. or a part-time MBA in Chicago would work too..

4/14/15
datguy345:

Just got promoted today to a decent position that may help me break into Asset Management at my current asset management firm. I have cake hours, low stress and a raise. With all of this time, I need something else to do with my time...
1. MBA - I am in a midwest city (not chicago ), and my company will pay 90% of my MBA costs. Also, since my company is a large Asset Management, if I can break into the asset management side, id stay for life. This is probably my least preferred option, but my most achievable. I spoke with someone from the Asset Management division today, and I was told that they may hire internally for post MBA positions. Plus there is no way on God's green earth that I can afford a top MBA on my own.
2. CFA - The most sensible and cheapest, but honestly, I doubt my ability to actually complete the program. Plus very few make it through all 3 levels.
3. Nothing - Work like a dog, network, save and try to get to NYC or Chicago and find a job there in 1-2 years.
Looking at PWM (most sensible and achievable), or AM (if i stay with my current company)
I already have about 2 years of FT WE, and a shitton of debt that I need pay back.

Don't forget the CFP for PWM, it's much more achievable than the CFA and is a good sales tool. It teaches you a different skillset but it is still interesting. I have both. If you buckle down you can self study the CFP and have it done within a year. I took 9 months from starting the courses to passing the exam.

If you get CFA level I down that can go on a resume but it seems a waste of time if you're not dedicated to finishing. That being said, if you want to enter other Asset Management roles or are seeking a research position it is a no brainer. It will be hard to move around if you don't have your CFA. For FO PWM I really think the CFP is an equal value proposition - less prestigious to recruiters but more valuable when facing 90% of clients. Any other certification outside of these two is a waste of time.

The MBA is more of a personal decision. For me, I decided only a top MBA was worth my time. I've met a few people who do Booth's part time remotely (they fly in for classes every week and back out for work), this is a more affordable way to get an elite name on your resume but is a big commitment. If you're staying in the midwest you could also just pick the best school in the city you're in (IU, Tepper, Carlson, etc). This should help with networking locally but obviously these schools don't have the same pull outside of your region.

Nothing is stopping you from applying to PWM roles now (other AM roles will probably require CFA I or II down for you to get a serious look). I guess what it comes down to is whether you prefer to do research & excel modelling or if you want to work with families in a relationship oriented role. The jobs are very different.

4/14/15

would not recommend doing mba immediately post u/g for ER. would recommend doing CFA. would also recommend doing MBA, but only after a few years of solid experience.

4/14/15

lol @ high finance

"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

"The investor's chief problem - and even his worst enemy - is likely to be himself." - Benjamin Graham

4/14/15

What kind of b-school gives you an "offer" straight from undergrad? Yale Silver Scholar? HBS 2+2? Who else?

Unless you're in getting into one of those top programs, first thing you should be doing is getting a job. Then worry about MBA or CFA.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

4/14/15

ER=CFA hands down

4/14/15

I'm with Flake, focus on the job first.

beyond that, MBA is good for career switching, CFA is good for checking a box and may be needed to move up within your company.

for example, if I was a ER associate and all the VPs had CFAs, I know I have to get it.
alternatively, let's say I wanted to switch out of my current role to something completely different, I'd go to b school. I can study for the GMAT in a relatively short period of time and get all of my apps in within 1 year.

all of that said, you shouldn't do b school straight from undergrad. maybe msf if you went to a shit school, but otherwise focus on getting paid.

"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

"The investor's chief problem - and even his worst enemy - is likely to be himself." - Benjamin Graham

4/14/15

This topic has been debated to death. There's nothing you are asking that hasn't been answered over and over. Do a quick search on this forum.

AVN Award Winner

4/14/15

both. (assuming the MBA comes from a good school and not a diploma mill)

4/14/15

Depends on what you really want to do, comparing them is kinda disingenuous. But it's been debated to death.

4/14/15

I started the CFA track when I was in corporate finance...Depending upon your industry and your exact job, it probably won't have much impact on how you do in your daily responsibilities.

I did find that it helped me stand-out as "driven" and also assisted with ad-hoc project work.

I think it will be tough to actually get the charter with only FP&A work experience, though.

4/14/15

As a charterholder, I think it would be a huge waste of time for someone with an MBA and no future Asset Management / ER career aspirations. Too much of the curriculum is too irrelevant to warrant the time commitment. Given the fact that it is a new role, I think your time would be better spent focusing on work and becoming a valuable member of your team.

4/14/15

junkbondswap:

As a charterholder, I think it would be a huge waste of time for someone with an MBA and no future Asset Management / ER career aspirations. Too much of the curriculum is too irrelevant to warrant the time commitment. Given the fact that it is a new role, I think your time would be better spent focusing on work and becoming a valuable member of your team.

This.

4/14/15

I wouldn't waste my time with it unless I was trying to break into the ER/Asset Management track. In corporate finance there is basically no use for the CFA. The only people I know going for it are ones with aspirations outside of corporate finance.

4/14/15

Many people have Both...

Eventus stultorum magister.

4/14/15

look at the profile of anyone in the ER/AM business that's between the ages of 25 - 35 and you'll see that a very large percentage have both

4/14/15

I always pictured doing an MBA full-time and then completing the CFA part-time after you're finished with the MBA and have a job would be the perfect plan.. :) but that could vary for differnet people.

4/14/15

It depends on what you want to do. If you are interested in being a fundamental equity analyst, some shops will not care if you are an MBA or not -- in fact, in some places, it's considered a waste of time (when I was at Barclays Global Investors, they had no time for MBAs, but BlackRock has more stockpicking). Also, if you are in fixed income do you really need a CFA or would you do better to get a Master of Financial Engineering?
The MBA degree has many, many benefits: leadership, networking, and 2 years of what may feel like camp. But the CFA is very marketable as well. Once, I actually saw a professor in a Stanford GSB defer to a CFA in an investment management class. I also saw someone who never would have gotten into any business school because he barely graduated from college get into several mid-tier business schools because he had cleaned up his act and earned his CFA. (and is now in fixed income asset mgt)

so what does this tell you? It's up to you and what you want to do. More doors will open for you with the MBA, but it really depends, as you alluded to in your original post, on how deep you want to go. What's your dream role?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
/forums/b-school-qa-... away!

4/14/15

Speaking from experience, if you have a CFA, you can customize your MBA coursework so there's not much overlap. You'll probably be able to waive the basic finance courses and take more electives. I disagree with the overall characterization of depth vs. breadth. An MBA definitely has more breadth, but you can get pretty deep as well in some of the upper level electives.

I am wise because I know that I know nothing -Socrates

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4/14/15

Does part-time haas MBA allow you to participate in on-campus recruiting? If so, that's a better bet (assuming you can only do one of these options). I personally think that a CFA is overrated for those wishing to break into portfolio management/equity research.

4/14/15

Thanks Macroecon,

I don't think at Haas you have access to on-campus recruiting if you are doing a part-time MBA.
Is it really hard or impossible to break into doing a part-time MBA. I know the general route is a full-time MBA.

Thanks

4/14/15
monikajudd:

Thanks Macroecon,

I don't think at Haas you have access to on-campus recruiting if you are doing a part-time MBA.
Is it really hard or impossible to break into doing a part-time MBA. I know the general route is a full-time MBA.

Thanks

If you don't have access to OCR, it will be virtually impossible.

As far as salary differences, I think base is similar at all those. Bonuses are far too discretionary to make a definitive assessment.

4/14/15
monikajudd:

Thanks Macroecon,

I don't think at Haas you have access to on-campus recruiting if you are doing a part-time MBA.
Is it really hard or impossible to break into doing a part-time MBA. I know the general route is a full-time MBA.

Thanks

What makes you say that? http://haas.berkeley.edu/EWMBA/StudentHandbook...

4/14/15

Also, do you know salary differences between I-banking, Equity research and portfolio management and which ones are easier to break into?

4/14/15

I'm not very familiar with the US MBA system, but as a CFA charterholder, there's a lot of limitations when it comes to using it for job hunting. Mainly that people only really care if you have passed level 1 and if you are a full Charterholder. And the exams are hard, with pass rates of 40%.

To put it this way: If you go for June exams and budget for failing a single year, you would be looking at 4 years, and at that point you couldn't even put CFA after your name as you lack the work experience.

The CFA level 1 may be a different matter. If you hold it, it signals some basic knowledge and interest. You can also sit the exam twice a year. I wouldn't really feel there's a significant improvement of having passed level 2 over simply level 1, and the time budget would be a lot larger.

Hence you could consider doing both. Get the CFA books and the Schweser notes aiming initially for a June sitting then resit in November if you fail. The syllabus only changes between years. Do the part-time MBA at the same time.

4/14/15

A CFA is absolutely unnecessary for a career in IB (esp if you went to Brown and Wharton). With that said, to the extent that you ever anticipate pursuing a career in IM or ER then it is more applicable.

No luck during recruiting in IB at Wharton or did you not pursue IB? Your situation and question seem a bit bizarre given that Wharton generally has great placement into IB although someone mentioned the other day that unemployment is nearing 10% and we were in a recession.

4/14/15

God !! Wharton MBA having trouble in getting IB job ? what the world is coming to ..

4/14/15

For various reasons that I won't go into here I didn't do any on-campus recruiting, so I wouldn't read into my personal circumstances. Basically my plan A turned out to be impossible given my current economic means and the current economy, so I'm back to the drawing board. I am interested in finance but at present the number of post-MBA finance jobs seems to be really thin and most postings that I have seen require previous finance experience, which I don't have. Non-CFA related tips for breaking in are also welcome of course.

It is however true that my class probably had the worst recruiting year in recent memory and I certainly know classmates who were recruiting for IB and did not find jobs. A lot of banks that in previous years were major employers didn't even bother to come to campus (assuming they were still in business of course). I think the career stats are due out in about a month and I expect them to be pretty painful. I wouldn't be surprised to see an order of magnitude increase in the number students who didn't find a job.

Hope I didn't depress people who are considering an MBA ... I fully expect things to bounce back to normal for the long term. I think it was just my class that got the shaft.

4/14/15

I think either the CFA or CPA (or both) would be great credentials for anyone who wants to pursue a long-term career in finance- downside to the CFA is that it takes four years of related experience to get the charter so short term advantages in recruiting will not be as helpful- but Level 1/2 have similar content to FNCE 717, 720 and 725; L2 has alot of overlap with ACCT 201/202 (not sure what the graduate course is numbered)...

The CPA can be earned faster- especially since the exam eligibility requirements are not that strict for people who have masters degrees. The advantage to not working now is you have the time to really learn the material well, so you could potentially take some accounting classes at your local CC/university this term, take L1 of the CFA in December and sit for the CPA exams by early 2010. If you had CFA L1 and L2 and the CPA exams by next June, and an MBA from Wharton, I don't really know what else could be expected from you to land a job in fundamental investing (at least when the hiring market returns to some sense of normalcy)...

In the mean time, the NYTimes had a great article yesterday about young professionals temping/volunteering until the right job comes along. It probably won't be IB, but HBS and Stanford grads generally don't work for investment banks for some reason, so there must be more out there.

4/14/15

Depends on your interest. The general feeling is that for IB CPA is more valuble and for Asset Management CFA is the thing. But even for IB, my personal belief is that one can learn alot of relevant finance stuff through the CFA.

CPA requires alot less time than the CFA, so if you're in a hurry maybe CPA is the way to go. You can always get the CPA first and then work toward the CFA.

Also remember that most IB guys have crazy hours so they can't really put in the effort for the CFA ( which is a potential reason they don't like it much ). Not so for AM guys who have better hours.

All this aside, a Wharton MBA will do lots for you anyway - maybe it's just a function of time.

Hope this helps

4/14/15

talk to your MBA job office, they should be able to help you out.

4/14/15

I think the best thing to do is to reach out to people from your past work ( if that is finance related )and find a link to someone in IB. In which field was your work ex pre MBA ?

The above tip of going to the Career Office is a great idea too. Contacting alumni can be helpful as well.

You've got more than enough to get into IB for sure so networking is probably the key.

4/14/15

Thanks all for the suggestions - I was fearing more snarkiness a la NuK85 but I've been pleasantly surprised.

Pre-Wharton I did management consulting, but it was with a small firm without a brand name. Before that I did technical sales (my undergrad was in computer science). So, no finance experience.

4/14/15

The Best Advice for Investment Banking Job Seekers - http://bit.ly/KFHgw
http://bankonbanking.com/
http://gottamentor.com/
Might be useful.

4/14/15

A slightly belated update: I somehow managed to land a buy-side corporate development / M&A role, so I landed OK. It gives me an interesting perspective on the whole investment banking thing now that I'm the one they are pitching to. Very surreal.

I really appreciate the freeminimalist.rumunity for being so supportive with my naive question. We'll see if I can give anything back. Because of the size of the deals I work on I mostly work with the boutiques and middle market firms, not the bulge bracket firms that everyone here seems to want to get into, but that's given me an interesting perspective as well.

4/14/15

Which industry? Investment advisory, or are you looking to switch to something else in the future?

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
4/14/15

Hedge your bets, do both at the same time. A lot of finance courses cross pollinate with the CFA.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

4/14/15

CFA is cheaper. If you're going AM, then do CFA... higher NPV.

"All I've ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work."

4/14/15

[quote=Linfone]CFA is cheaper. If you're going AM, then do CFA... higher NPV.[/quote

It depends. If someone is not in IM and wants to break in, an MBA from a top school will make the transition MUCH easier. I know so many people who passed the CFA, hoping they can break into ER or IM and have been unsuccessful. On the other hand, people at hbs/wharton/booth with no previous experience are able to get jobs in IM due to campus recruiting and the strength of their schools' name brand.

4/14/15

Do both, now a day it's not CFA or MBA, it's CFA +MBA/ MFIN, look at all of the top AM shops, and consulting shops, you gotta do both in today's economy.

3/31/17

would you recommend CFA + MBA in IE (Spain) or CFA + MFIN in Esade (Spain)?

4/14/15

What do you guys think on timing of both? Should I start studing for the CFA now or wait a few years? Same with grad school?

4/14/15

I know a VP in ER at a BB who did 1 CFA exam every year for her first three years as alternative to an MBA. So she did her CFA right out of school. It was recommended by her company, so it probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
4/14/15

Honestly assumming you do IA work at some MSSB type place, I would apply to get your MBA/ MFIN, and if you get in somewhere good, just quit your job in April and spend May cramming for Level I. That way when the summer intern hiring starts you can have that you passed L I on your resume. That should make the first step into analyst work easier.

For L II I'd wait until your second year of B-School once you've sewn up a full time job. At that point course work won't be too hard, and you should be able to knock out Level II right after you graduate assuming Early May graduation, and July start on your analyst gig. That way you'll have the study time booked during the year, and the month of May again to pound Level II. Ideally you'll start your analyst gig with the first two levels under your belt. Coming from someone who works as an AM analyst, I can't tell you how much of a help it is to have knocked out the first 2 legs before you start FT.

4/14/15

CFA is tough, and you'll face stiff competition getting a job in the field of finance, but certification will qualify you for better job prospects. According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, you might earn $135,000 a year. The average salary of a person with an MBA in Finance is around $100,000 a year. Your earning capacity would also depend on where you did your MBA program - earning a degree from a prestigious business school would put you way ahead of the rest. Don't think about MBA[/embed]programs unless you're thinking B-schools in the top 50 ranking, or close to that.

4/14/15
DanielBrown:

CFA is tough, and you'll face stiff competition getting a job in the field of finance, but certification will qualify you for better job prospects. According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, you might earn $135,000 a year. The average salary of a person with an MBA in Finance is around $100,000 a year. Your earning capacity would also depend on where you did your MBA program - earning a degree from a prestigious business school would put you way ahead of the rest. Don't think about MBA[/embed]programs unless you're thinking B-schools in the top 50 ranking, or close to that.

Thanks for that?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

4/14/15

yep both seems to be the norm when you check the profiles of the youngest asset managers/portfolio managers. For our generation MBA+CFA seems the most logical choice. I'm doing the CFA now and hope to apply to MBA once I pass all 3 exams

4/14/15

If you do decide to do both but not at the same time, do CFA first. It makes sense to do the MBA from a good school that is well reputed. Read a couple of college reviews to find out which colleges are stepping up their game and earning a good reputation like California College of San Diego reviews. You have to make yourself stand out among the competition.

4/14/15

B-schools are impressed with CFA designation on applications and the preparation for the CFA whether it's level 1, 2, or 3 is super prep for b-school. Many say CFA is more difficult than MBA in fact. As for which will help your career more, that's a good question and arguments can be made on either side depending on your industry and career track. In general, the MBA is more versatile and more universally recognized. For example, when you look at job postings, rarely do they say CFA required, but often you will see MBA required (or preferred). Just something to think about. I agree with above posts that it's feasible to do both.

Bryant Michaels
Veritas Prep Consulting

4/14/15

I believe best plan of attack is to work for a couple of years in whatever role and do your CFA. Get to that designation with roughly 3 years of fulltime experience. You should have a strong base of financial theory and strong business accumen. At this stage go for your GMAT and get into a top MBA. I want to go into a top MBA program, not to enhance my career prospects but to challenge how i think about things. I think it would be n excellent experience to do case after case after case. CFA is enough to enhance your career IMO, I would do top MBA because I want to prove myself that I can get to that level.

4/14/15

I believe best plan of attack is to work for a couple of years in whatever role and do your CFA. Get to that designation with roughly 3 years of fulltime experience. You should have a strong base of financial theory and strong business accumen. At this stage go for your GMAT and get into a top MBA. I want to go into a top MBA program, not to enhance my career prospects but to challenge how i think about things. I think it would be n excellent experience to do case after case after case. CFA is enough to enhance your career IMO, I would do top MBA because I want to prove myself that I can get to that level.

4/14/15

In my opinion, no value whatsoever. CFA is decent if you're looking to get into equity research and institutional buyside (mutual funds, etc.). The only advantage a CFA could give you towards PE or VC is to show you have an interest in finance and can handle technical financial problems and valuation. But you already have an MBA, so that's not necessary.

Just take a look at bios for team members in PE. Barely anyone has their CFA.

I also think the MS is a bad idea. If you don't have a pre-MBA banking background, my advice would be to get into banking as an associate then move to PE from there, or get work experience in a field that interest you related to VC, and then jump to VC as an experienced professional in about 5-10 years.

  • 4/14/15

for an MBA you seem pretty uneducated about VC. It doesn't look for financial whiz kids, you need a tech background, entrepreneur experience etc.

for PE, CFA/MS is useless. Unless you are a networking goddess the train has long left the station and you have no chance because of the 2nd tier MBA and no background, even in this red hot job environment.

btw what job are you at now?

4/14/15

Hi,

Well, first of all, thanks for sharing your experience. It gave good insight for sure.

Well, however, this is an interesting thing to know that there is no use of CFA degree for getting into PE/VC, even indirectly !! Well, as far as bios of VCs are concerned, for sure, many of them have tech background and/or some entrepreneurial consulting background. However, after looking at good bunch of profile of VCs only, I thought of CFA. Many of them had CFA. (they might have used that to get into Goldman ..as Goldman, for sure, hires a lot of CFAs !!).

I do know that some tech background and/or some entrepreneurial background required !! However, I have seen people getting into this with vertical Finance experience too. Till now, I am not able to leverage my Tech degree and/or experience. Could be because of lack of long-experience !! I have an undergrad in Technology and my current job is with Rolls Royce - I am SAP - Finance & Controlling - Tech Senior Consultant !!

As GameTheory mentioned, I-Banking route could be a good one and in fact, in that regard, only, I was considering for CFA. Whether CFA will help me for getting into some top-banks as an associate with my Second-Tier MBA. And then, after working getting some financial restructuring experience, probably if I can make shift to VC.

4/14/15

Hi,

Well, first of all, thanks for sharing your experience. It gave good insight for sure.

Well, however, this is an interesting thing to know that there is no use of CFA degree for getting into PE/VC, even indirectly !! Well, as far as bios of VCs are concerned, for sure, many of them have tech background and/or some entrepreneurial consulting background. However, after looking at good bunch of profile of VCs only, I thought of CFA. Many of them had CFA. (they might have used that to get into Goldman ..as Goldman, for sure, hires a lot of CFAs !!).

I do know that some tech background and/or some entrepreneurial background required !! However, I have seen people getting into this with vertical Finance experience too. Till now, I am not able to leverage my Tech degree and/or experience. Could be because of lack of long-experience !! I have an undergrad in Technology and my current job is with Rolls Royce - I am SAP - Finance & Controlling - Tech Senior Consultant !!

As GameTheory mentioned, I-Banking route could be a good one and in fact, in that regard, only, I was considering for CFA. Whether CFA will help me for getting into some top-banks as an associate with my Second-Tier MBA. And then, after working getting some financial restructuring experience, probably if I can make shift to VC. However, that looks a long-route !!

4/14/15

I don't know where you get the impression that GS hires a substantial amount of CFA's. I really don't see a correlation between CFA holders and increased hiring by GS for associate IBD roles.

  • 4/14/15

Nope. Not lot !! Well, for sure, their hiring preference is MBA. However, there are good number of CFAs too. Checking CFA Institute Website will give a good idea about it, that GS hires CFAs. Not only GS, Meriyll Linch and JPM, too !!

Yes, however, I am not sure if they are for associate role or any other corporate finance role. However, GS Corp. Finance experience too, seems to be important in VC circle. I am not sure, but perspective from you, will surely give some idea !!

4/14/15

I didn't check the website but if it doesn't delineate between corporate finance or research I am almost positive most CFA's enter into things like research, and not IBD.

As I'm sure you know your chances of entering PE without pre-MBA banking or consulting experience, no pre-MBA PE experience, no top tier MBA, makes it extremely difficult to enter into PE at this point. That said, if you can score a job at a good investment bank doing something like tech or healthcare, or even energy you may have a chance at a focused VC fund. If you do something like M&A or Leveraged Finance you will fair better towards PE.

A top tier consulting job may offer similar options but not as reliably as IB. And, like I said before, extremely difficult given your lack of experience. But if that is what you know you want to do, by all means go for it.

  • 4/14/15

Thanks "GameTheory" .. Got a good insight !!

  • 4/14/15

You need to wait another 10 to 15 years if you can't get into PE post-MBA. Go out and get some real operational experience managing a business and then try to hit PE firms from that angle.

Spending a 2 or 3 years as an Associate after MBA is an extremely low percentage path. There are fewer PE jobs at that level. And the competition is pretty much every Associate out there thinking the same thing.

Add to that the fact that an i-banking Associate is bringing very few skills to a PE fund that a cheaper, pre-MBA analyst doesn't have.

I would advise you to find a meaningful operational role, see how that goes and then try to make the transition as someone with a real, unique skillset.

  • 4/14/15

isn't CFA level one the real easy one where one doesn't even really have to study to pass? I heard only level three indicates any real separation in knowledge from the masses...

4/14/15

No, CFA Level One is the hardest (lowest pass rate, something like 30%). Level Three has the highest pass rate.

  • 4/14/15

maybe it's because all the dropouts were already screened out at level one and two. therefore, those who are left and going for level three are naturally more likely to pass.

4/14/15

Level I is the easiest level - just weeds out those who arent dedicated. Saying that its really easy and not having to study however is a bit of an exaggeration.

Level II is most difficult based on large amounts of accounting

Level III is gaining rep of becoming more difficult that is has been in the past - has high passing rate because candidates can finally see the light after passing level II.

4/14/15

Value of the CFA?

Shows the I-Banks that you're a real keener for Finance. That's what a guy at GS said during our info session. Is it practically useful? Maybe more so in Asset Management later on but they like you if you're doing it while in your last year undergrad or during your MBA.

To them its an example of multitasking, time management, dedication and hard work. What more do they want from prospective monkeys? Whether you're in IBD, ECM, DCM, Research...its the character/personality test that will win over the interviewer. The CFA is an extra chip.

4/14/15

Any undergrad with an economics or business degree can pass Level 1 with 3 to 4 weeks of hard part-time studying.

4/14/15

I'm pretty sure you need work experience if you plan on attending any decent MBA program. Same goes for the CFA. You can pass 3 levels but won't become a CFA charter holder until you have 4 years of qualified work experience.

Start networking now via alumni, wso, and linkedin. If all else fails, attend a 1 yr MSF program at a more 'target' school.

Disclaimer for the Kids: Any forward-looking statements are solely for informational purposes and cannot be taken as investment advice. Consult your moms before deciding where to invest.

4/14/15

personally, i think applying to an mba program straight out of college is not a great idea. top business schools look for candidates who have experience so that they can contribute to the class experience. if you go straight from undergrad - and from a non-target - you'll likely end up in a 15+ ranked b-school, so I don't think you'll position will change dramatically. also, if you are strapped for cash, wouldn't you want to make some money first, save, and then have some cushion before you sink yourself into a $100K hole? just a thought.

you don't necessarily have to have a really difficult time finding a job in new york. getting a front-office role at a bulge bracket, however, is a completely different story. you're a sophomore, so you have time. I would look at interning at some boutique close to home this summer. you may not get paid. no matter. you might have to eat scraps, but do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door and gain some sort of worthwhile experience. you'll be better positioned for your junior year internship, and hopefully you're previous experience will set you up for a better-branded bank.

if you finish at the top of your class, demonstrate you are extremely sharp with your finance skills (look into BIWS, buy the Rosenbaum and Pearl books, look at other resources), and network your ass off, then you can definitely get the job you are looking for.

it won't be easy, but hey, it's not suppose to be.

good luck

Capitalist

4/14/15

Thanks, I appreciate it. Yeah I know it is not the best decision to do that out of undergrad. As I have been told. And the more and more I hear this, I lean further away from it. Only reason I have been considering is because we are simply ignored down here. Which is why I regret my university decision so much. I have applied for hundreds, literally hundreds, of internships and have rarely even received a response. I ended up having to take a BS intern position with AXA Equitable (the worst company ever) this Fall. I didn't want to do it, but I figured it was better than nothing. I have been rigorously applying for a summer internship back home around the NYC area and have not received any responses. I have been networking via alumni and family friends but nothing seems to work. Very frustrating to say the least. The Alumni out of USC really sucks, and they don't like helping us out. So I am at a loss of options..

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

If you are interested in finance why don't you look into doing a few years at Wells Fargo or BofA in Charlotte before going for an MBA. I'm sure there are plenty of Gamecocks in Charlotte who can help you out, and as much as you talk shit about the south, Charlotte is not that bad.

4/14/15

Yes, very true. I know a couple guys that have received jobs out of College to BofA, and they said they love it. Charlotte would really be my only exception. I'm just a city boy at heart, and cant really picture myself living and working in NC. Besides those two companies, there really isn't anything else around here. Which is why after College I originally planned to move back home and test my luck up there. Do you guys know non-target graduates, from the Southeast specifically, getting jobs in NYC or Chicago?

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

There are a ton of boutique firms in Charlotte, many of which provide kids from the Southeast with good NYC buy-side exit opportunities (see McColl Partners, Edgeview Partners). As a South Carolina student, Charlotte is most likely your best bet -- and you won't regret it a whole lot when you're making street-level compensation and paying under $1000 for your apartment in the city center. Just my $0.02.

"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

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4/14/15

Yes I will look into those, thanks. I appreciate the positivity, but I really do not want to live in Charlotte. If i absolutely have to, than so be it. That is my worst case scenario. I don't know what it is about Charlotte, maybe the people, the atmosphere, who knows. But i just don't like it and would not enjoy living in North Carolina... I am from New Jersey, that's where i want to be. What are other ways to apply for jobs/internships besides filling out the actual online application for them? Have you guys had success cold calling or emailing, or maybe even getting informational interviews that lead to real interviews? I have lost all hope in USC's career center and jobmate website. I can't find anything even half decent on there. Any ideas?

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

Baronec:
Yes I will look into those, thanks. I appreciate the positivity, but I really do not want to live in Charlotte. If i absolutely have to, than so be it. That is my worst case scenario.

Your worst case scenario is going back to mom and dad's house with your tail between your legs unemployed. In this market you need to keep an open mind...hopefully you can fake liking Charlotte really well, because people down there are wary of folks from the Northeast ;-)

"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Check out my blog!

4/14/15

I went to USC. I worked on an ECM desk at a boutique in Charlotte and then a different one on an FI desk before getting out of the industry. USC isn't going to open a lot of doors for you as I never came across many alums. Judging by the number of e-mails I'd get from kids in school there must not be a whole bunch of alums anywhere in IB. You're going to have to network and it would help if you had something unique to offer. If you interview in Charlotte and have an attitude about the city you're going to have a steep hill to climb.

4/14/15

Sorry let me say this in a better way. I don't mean in to the point that i will not apply for jobs in Charlotte. I was just saying that I typically would not want to, as i have never ever pictured myself working/living down here. I always saw it as an option, but I never even considered it. But yes I can see that it is clearly my best option, thank you. I am considering this now but I would just hate going into a job out of College knowing that I only want to use this job to gain experience, or use this job to help me get the %$#@ out of here. Hopefully I will find something there when the time comes, but even for internships I have had no luck in the Charlotte area. Honestly I can see Charlotte being a good place to start

DonVon - Going back home may be a bad decision, but you cant call me a D-bag for liking the Metro area of the US more than the Southeast... I mean seriously. Its where I was born and raised, and I love the fast paced hustle and bustle lifestyle that Charlotte simply does not have, nor will it ever. Anyways, I will obviously apply for jobs in Charlotte and hopefully land a solid one. But like I was saying.. This is not my go to option. Hence why I created this thread. I was looking for more advice on how to successfully get interviews coming from a school like mine, not why I should learn to like a nearby "City."

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

check out atl, robinson humphrey and ray jay in tampa too

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

4/14/15

would you rather be poor and jobless in NYC or rich and employed in Charlotte?

4/14/15

I get what you're saying.. But I don't think it would be "rich" and employed in Charlotte. More like, earning a decent living and employed in Charlotte..

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

You are putting the cart way before the horse. You go to the third or fourth best school in South Carolina. Very few people from USC end up in investment banking, particularly fresh out of undergrad. You would be very lucky to get a job in Charlotte. Furthermore, do you know how much bankers get paid in Charlotte? Do you know what the difference in cost of living is in Charlotte versus New York? I mean if you think working at an investment bank in Charlotte is so bad, imagine how much you're going to enjoy working at a credit union in Jersey.

4/14/15

I know the differences, it has nothing to do with the standard of living. Clearly I would be better off in Charlotte, I understand. I just do NOT like the Southeast. It is that simple. I get what you are saying. Luckily I will most luckily be transferring out of this place. I would much rather bust my ass off competing with the best in the world in NYC and get paid nearly nothing, than make a good living in North Carolina.

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

Don't waste your time applying to b-schools, most of the good ones aren't going to take you without work experience.

Your options are:

(1) Look for a MSF program at a better school that might get you access to NYC jobs. The MSF at UF places people on the street most years, though I haven't looked in a few years. Sure there are many more that would suit your needs.

(2) Search your alumni database hard core and try to find anyone on the street. Also cold call the hell out of people. Does it work? Sometimes. Mostly not, but neither does never picking up the phone.

(3) Take a job in ATL or CLT for 2 years, be miserable making street, or above street, pay...paying a shit ton less in cost of living and then apply to a real MBA program that will get you back to NYC.

Also consider taking a job in Charlotte and then just trying to network into a lateral position in NYC. Also think about Harris Williams in Richmond (I know, worse than Charlotte, right?) and doing the same. Also keep in mind that WF has NYC positions. A guy that interned for me a few years back got an SA position in NYC with Wells and got a FT offer to go back.

As others have pointed out...having a job is far better than having no job, regardless of where you live.

Smart money says apply everywhere you can, take the best job that you are offered and then work on the transition from there, with your bills paid, money in your pocket and relevant experience in the industry. Lastly, you need to work real hard to lose any sort of condescension toward Charlotte. The people there absolutely love it and they really don't want to hire or work with folks that don't share the same enthusiasm. When I interviewed with Wells back in the day, they were drilling folks from outside the south about what they liked about the city, why they wanted to be there, etc. because they knew many of them were just looking for a comfortable place to gain some experience why they find a job back home in NYC.

Also, Charlotte is actually a pretty great city and I'm sure Richmond isn't bad either. I get that you don't think you would like it, just as many people 'know' they wouldn't like being in NYC, but sometimes you just make the sacrifice you need to in order to get ahead.

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
- Ronald Reagan

4/14/15

Thank you for your wisdom. That clears a lot of things up, and makes me feel a bit more positive about this situation. I will consider the MSF, but like you were saying I guess the best option is to take what I get. And go from there. Thanks

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

4/14/15

Born and raised in the Northern US and did USC's part time MBA program while living in Charlotte. There were several folks in the MBA program that worked at BOA and Wells and it sounds like you might have a misconception about the city. Almost 2 million people in metro area, 2nd largest financial city to NYC, 18th largest city in the US.

The points made about the cost of living are spot on. You'd probably have to make 30-50% more in NYC to cover the cost of living change. I had a 15-year mortgage that cost me less than $1,000 a month while having access to downtown Charlotte with plenty of bars/restaurants, great year round weather, and short drives to the Appalachian mountains and ocean. The city is filled with young professionals and if I had to guess, I'd say more than 50% are transplants from northern cities so it doesn't even feel like you're in the "south".

Not trying to sell you on Charlotte but just wanted to give my 2 cents. I'm in a similar boat taking the CFA next June to try to transition to Asset Management. I can tell you we have a tougher road then someone with a top tier degree but it is not impossible.

4/14/15

If your GPA is really good, and if you are really serious about getting a great job post undergrad to boost your chances of a great MBA program admissions, you should look into transferring. Many Ivy League schools now offer loan free education to their undergrads including transfer students. This means that you will not have to graduate with tons of loans as you may think. You can even try transferring to other top state schools such as Virginia, and Chapel Hill. These schools will greatly improve your chances at landing a great job and together with the CFA will make you almost a shoe in at Top MBA programs. Look us up, we can help.

Admissions Advice Online - Google Me

4/14/15

Honestly, these days, it seems that prior work experience not only boosts your application profile, but also is becoming a requirement of sorts. This way, as your gaining work experience, you can also prep for the GMAT. You need to score really well on this in order to be accepted. I received my MBA from Babson College in Boston and it was the best career move I could've made. Best of luck to you!

4/14/15

You need to check your attitude a bit and re-align your goals.

Your first focus should be finishing out this semester with the best grades possible and securing an internship. You are a sophomore now correct? So you should be getting an internship if your aim is a big city firm.

And if USC is as crappy as you make it out to be your GPA should be 3.7+ and you should be on course to graduate summa cum laude.

4/14/15

Here is a useful article about the CFA versus MBA.
Good luck
http://businessweek.com/bschools/content/apr20...

4/14/15

Thank you very much for the link! Does anybody else have more information about the tests comparatively and how they are viewed in different fields?

4/14/15

Agree with the conclusion, but not the comparison. MBA is a managerial degree used to tack on to previous industry experience in pursuit of upper management. CFA is an in depth topic specific trade certification. One says you are competent in business, the other says you are an expert in a specific aspect of a specific field.

An MBA takes 2 years full time. A CFA requires 4 years of analyst-type experience, plus the 3 CFA levels, which can (at best, and very few succeed at this) be completed in a year and a half. So you're talking 2 years vs. anywhere from 5.5 to 7, 8, 10, even...

Naturally, past experience and individual skill levels are factors, but I never understood why people compared the two degrees to one another.

It's almost like saying, "heart clinic prefers cardiovascular surgeons to general practicioner doctor".

Clearly.

4/14/15

It wouldn't hurt.

I know a lot of students with computer science or engineering backgrounds who have the hard skills for quant jobs but zero knowledge of finance or economics, CFA would be perfect for them. However since you already have a master's in finance you should have a good grasp of what's going on. If you have the motivation and time then you should do it, the CFA material probably covers a lot more than your finance schooling did, but keep in mind that studying and passing all the tests could take 900+ hours even if you don't fail and re-take the test.

4/14/15

thanks for your reply. Exactly that is what I have in my mind. I know that passing the CFA is quite a project and that is why I am thinking about CAIA which is maybe easier (well, I just read this) and the market is not over-saturated. Are you working as a trader?