CFA vs MBA

I’ve been getting a good bit of email asking about what doors the CFA designation actually opens, and whether this is the best way to make a career switch into investing from one’s current profession in the field of _______.

Now there are a variety of ways to break into the investment field and the required additional education (if any) depends upon what exactly you want to do.

But for many the final question comes down to whether they should go for a CFA designation or an MBA. Just thought I’d provide a few interesting links today to sites that discuss this decision.

    CFA vs. MBA, which is best for you?
    Written by a charterholder. Love the mile-wide foot-deep vs. mile-deep foot-wide analogy. And there’s even a discounted cash flow problem – where he computes the NPV of both programs. 🙂

    Almost everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the CFA charter
    Good interview with a director of the CFA Institute – Bob Johnson. After reading his take don’t miss the comments by other analysts at the end (in italics, above the comments).

    Should You Get the CFA?
    An older article (some out-of-date links) but some interesting points nonetheless – like who employs the most CFA charterholders.

    CFA and MBA?
    Take a gander at that median salary for those who hold both! I wonder if they have any free time to spend it?

For engineers out there, for what it’s worth I was catching up on old podcasts the other day when I came across this one from Fidelity. It’s basically an advertisement for a new fund, but in the intro the fund manager, Bob Chow, gives his brief biography.

He started out with a BS and MS in electrical engineering like me. So what did he do afterwards to gain the skills to run his own fund? He got an MBA from the University of Chicago! And given that Chicago is one of the best places to do an MBA, this was a smart decision.

As for my decision to go with the CFA over the MBA, knowing that both are respected made my choice easy – I just picked the one with the curriculum I liked best. I’m more interested in buying companies, not running them. So some of the MBA’s courses in leadership, team-building, operations, human resources, and marketing just didn’t appeal at all. But in balance, I recognize that if you know how to run a good business, you probably know how to identify a good one to buy too.

Finally, it’s worth considering how many thousands of people complete the MBA and/or CFA programs each year. It would seem as if sometime in the future (or now?) completing at least one of these programs may become a prerequisite instead of a differentiator.

Back to the books…