CPA vs CFA vs MBA

CPA, CFA or MBA?


It’s not a question of which one is better. It’s a question of which one is better for you. Traditionally, the CPA would lead to a career as a CFO; a CFA was on the path to become a portfolio manager; and a MBA would eventually become a corporate executive. This notion still holds today, however, achieving one of these certifications no way guarantees success.


Deciding which certification to pursue is usually made subconsciously. In our daily lives we read, talk and listen to friends, family and colleagues. Based on these interactions, we develop a superficial understanding on which certification to pursue. After much career and soul searching, I've come to realize that the most important question to ask before choosing a path is “what do I want to do?”


Do I want to be a CFO of a hedge fund?

Do I want to be a portfolio manager at a hedge fund?

Do I want to be a managing director at a private equity firm?

Do I want to be VP of business development at a corporation?


Now this might seem easy, but in reality it’s difficult. It’s difficult to verbalize why you want to pursue a particular career. My advice is follow the work, not the money. Regardless of the risks or the sunk costs, pursue your passion.



CPA

The Certified Public Accountant certification is a benchmark credential. It carries stature, significance and job security. In economic booms or busts, accountants are always needed. The more personable and diligent you are, the more success you will achieve.


Accounting is the basis of business. And being an expert in accounting gives you a unique business perspective that your other friends might not possess. However, the thing I have come to realize is that once you’re labeled an accountant, you may be an accountant the rest of your life. It’s incredibly difficult to make the switch into a different career path within the business world (when I say business world I mean hedge fund analyst, private equity associate, business development).


My opinion on the matter might be affected by the economic environment in which I recruited. It is difficult to switch careers in a bear market. Ultimately though, my conclusion is drawn from the countless interactions with professionals throughout my recruitment process. Every time I would talk with headhunters, recruiters, HR and interviewers, it would become apparent that they just wanted a two year analyst from an I-bank or consulting firm. My two years at PwC didn’t mean a thing to anybody. They would always tell me of a great job in the middle or back office and convince me that was the best role for me.



CFA

I am not a Chartered Financial Analyst charter holder. So I cannot express the opportunities that have or have not presented themselves as a result of the CFA. However, as a Level III candidate, no unique opportunities have appeared. No special career doors have opened. When I was recruiting, it was thought more of a differentiation than a value added credential. I am interested to know what the future holds if I successfully pass the third part, complete the work experience, and receive the designation.



MBA

After talking with many people and seeing it first hand, I am convinced the only sure way to change career paths and make it to the top echelon of finance, without a background in investment banking or strategy consulting, is to attend a top 10 MBA school. Of course, you can get great finance jobs through other methods (that’s what I’m hoping to do) but this way seems most certain.


So if you want to work in private equity or at a hedge fund and are not an investment banker or strategy consultant, I highly recommend crushing the GMAT (above 700) and going to a top 10 MBA school.



I have merely outlined my insight based on experience, which I hope can help you better decide which certification path to follow. Remember though that no path is certain or on a straight line.

132 comments:

... said...

Hello there,

I am in the same position, as you were maybe 2 years ago. I am almost done with my CPA ( just have audit left which i am taking in feb). I am going for MA in accounting after this (since i don't work in public accounting). I am also thinking about CFA but it seems to me that its not very helpful without experience in today's economy.

I am using your notes for my preparation, and they are very helpful. I wanted to extend my thanks and appreciation for sharing the notes.

Himanshu
himanshu83@gmail.com

Ivy said...

Hi, It is great to find your site. Your notes are extremely helpful and I want to thank you for whatever you have done. I wonder if you know any sources that list out the update content to be appear in the CPA in 2009. I found a lot sources, but I can find is the text book update, which are not systematic like your notes.

Similar as what you thought, I think Accounting and CPA is important for business, but I don't want to end up with Public Accountant for the whole life too. So I switch to Finance Master after accounting bachelor. But now I stuck in the middle in such market. I am thinking corporation might be a good choice. Maybe we can discuss more.

Ivy

ivylovesmile2003@yahoo.com.cn

satishgr said...

Hi,
I am Satish, thank you very much for your notes

Do you have updated notes for Becker CPA 2009 Edition,

also, do you have model questions and answers for reference purpose

are there any simulations that can be used for testing purpose? do you have tips on how to master in simulations

kindly upload them so that we can see

Anonymous said...

Hi, there,

Thank you so much for your useful notes on preparing the CPA exam!

I am going to sit for the CPA exam in 2009 and now is going to apply for the NTS. If yes, could you please e-mail me to my address: luckhappy659@yahoo.com.cn

Do you have upgraded notes regarding taking the CPA exam in 2009? Additionally, could you have any tipping-points about how to successfully pass the simulation part?

Thanks!
Judie
luckhappy659@yahoo.com.cn

cpacfa said...

Unfortunately, my notes do not reflect the updates for the 2009 CPA. I have posted my notes more as an example of how you should study. As I mentioned in my posts, the best way to pass the simulations is to complete as many practice simulations as possible. It sounds cheesy, but there really are no shortcuts. The body of knowledge from which the questions are constructed from has limits. As a result, the examiners can only ask a question in so many ways. So the more practice problem you complete, the closer you are to mastering the material.

Anonymous said...

Which exam is harder? CPA or CFA?

Beachman said...

I highly suggest getting Becker CPA exam review for your study. Though Wiley CPA exam review is much cheaper, you spend more time for reading the Wiley materials but not studying to pass the exam.

For simulation, I totally agree to do as much practice as you can. Wiley CPA exam review CD is a very good choice.

To master the multiple-choice questions, I will suggest getting the practice questions from Becker.

I studied 3 days with Wiley exam review and passed BEC. I passed FAR and AUD by reading the Becker CPA review only but didn't do any other practice. REG is most difficult part for me. I purchase the Becker practice questions online and study Becker material three times before taking exam.

Study hard and practice is the path to conquer the CPA exam!

cpacfa said...

"Which exam is harder? CPA or CFA?"

Short Answer: The CFA is much more difficult

Long Answer: The CPA is essentially one exam split into 4 sections. You can master one of the sections in a month. And if you fail a section, you can take it again 3 months later. I consider the CFA three separate exams simply because the material covered in each exam is so expansive. In addition, if you fail the CFA exam you have to wait a whole year to retake the exam (except for level 1 in which case you have to wait 6 months)

Junior said...

This is a wonderful post - you really laid it out exceptionally!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried to get into the M&A portion of PwC? Maybe that will help your shift into Private Equity..And I don't think you can enter Private Equity without some background experience in ibanking or consulting..Perhaps if you moved into equity research first, recruiters might be more receptive. However, I will disclose that I have 0 industry experience. I am planning to take your route of CFA & CPA duelies though

Anonymous said...

I have a CFA charter, it will not open any doors, i am currently preparing for the CPA maybe that will help. I need a job

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I want honestly to thank you for the notes.
Secondly, I'm a CPA candidate and I feel that studying of the CPA has extremley improved my knowledge and even mypersonality. I've downloded the notes to my cell phone and i'm always reviewing it.

All the best.

nyc_vishal said...

Hi Guys,

For those of you studying and have passed the CPA, did you do the self study CD programs from Becker, or did you enroll in online classes or take the live courses? I am a L1 CFA pass, and all I did was study on my own using Schweser, and am hoping that for CPA one can do self studies too. I'm a Acct/Finance ugrad major from Univ of Penn Wharton, with a mgmt consulting professional background.

Cheers!
Vishal

cpacfa said...

Hi Vishal,

If you used Schweser to self study and passed level 1 of the CFA, the self study CD's from Becker will suffice and serve you well. I passed all 4 parts of the CPA on my first attempt and all I used was the Becker self study CD's.

On a separate note, why do you want to pursue accounting? I am trying to do the exact opposite. I also have an acctg/fin degree but ended up at a big 4 accounting firm. And I've been trying to make my way into finance and consulting ever since.

Bhaskar said...

Hi

I have done my MBA with Finance electives, I have done 3 accounting courses.
Rest of my courses in finance areas like Corporate Finance, Risk Management, Options and futures etc.
Are my education requirements sufficient for CPA exam.

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

cpacfa said...

Hi Bhaskar,

The education requirements for the CPA differ from state to state. Log onto the NASBA website and find the requirements specific to each state (http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb/NASBAWeb.nsf/wpecusm?openform).

Anonymous said...

Professional qualifications are definitely helpful if you're already in that field. This site http://whycfa.blogspot.com> shares some of these views.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys. Not sure if anyone will read this since the last comment was a few weeks ago.

Here is my situation: I am 37 today. I worked as a chemical engineer from 22-26, then an operations manager of a manufacturing plant from 27-31, and then as a controller for a manufacturing plant from 32 to 37. I got my MBA from a top school, which is one reason I was hired as a controller (without an accounting degree). To be fair, I was very good in my accounting classes during my MBA and always liked accounting, which is why I wanted to be a controller.

In the next 2 years, I may be moving to another part of the USA, and would like to begin planning for my next job. My initial idea was to sit for the CPA exam in a state that I would meet the qualifications for (some states accept an MBA as a sufficient prerequisite). That way, with a CPA in hand, no company would doubt my accounting ability (I can talk a good game and my 5 yrs experience helps, but there is always some guy on the other side of the desk who wants to see the 3 letters "CPA").

Any ideas or thoughts? Seems like my chemical engineering degree is more and more useless!

cpacfa said...

Hi Chemical Engineer,

I may not continually post to my site, but I’m always checking in on it.

In regards to your question. The best website to compare state requirements is http://www.beckercpa.com/state/index.cfm. However, I’m not sure you can just take the exam in any state, thereby, circumventing the education prerequisites. Either contact Becker or NASBA. Someone should be able to answer that question fairly quickly.

If you want to be an accountant, a CPA will always command a premium in the market place. However, it is not required for many jobs. The only job you actually need a CPA designation for is as partner at a public accounting firm (because they sign audit opinions). At what type of firm are you a controller at? In your job search apply to companies that are similar to your current firm. Accounting experience is industry based. Meaning if you were a controller at a manufacturing firm your experience will not carry over and help you as a controller at a finance firm (it’s relative but a general rule). There are many accounting nuances, rules and standards that only apply / are used by particular industries. I think you will be extremely competitive among candidates with a MBA from a top school, similar industry experience under your belt, and you interview well.

Planning, studying and taking the CPA at minimum takes 6 months to accomplish (with an average of about one year). So if you plan to move around that time frame, I would recommend concentrating on getting a job vs getting the CPA.

Like I said, industry experience will matter most, then your personality, then your MBA (which will essentially replace the CPA for an interviewer mentally). Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.


cpacfa

Max Morland said...

Great blog. I'm in the middle of the CPA exam and am thinking about my post-exam career path. Currently I work in corporate accounting. I don't think I can use my work experience to qualify for the work requirement of the CPA license. For that reason I think there will come a time that I will need to go to work in public accounting, which I feel will be a step back in my career, but necessary to obtain a CPA license. Any tips about the direction of my post-exam career path? Do I shoot for a big 4 firm, or a local firm? Or, should I keep my job and freelance at a tax firm? The thought of going into auditing doesn't sound very attractive, but is something I'm willing to do to obtain the CPA designation. Thanks!

cpacfa said...

Max,

In my opinion, auditing work is not attractive. However, I know many people who enjoy it (a lot depends on your team and your client).

I pretty much answered your questions in the comment post above yours in the "CPA vs CFA vs MBA" section. So re-read my comments there. A quick recap though:
1) double check and scrutinize the CPA work requirements in your state
2) Limit your prospective job options to those that can meet the work requirements
3) Pick a firm/job opportunity based on a number of quantitative and qualitative factors (salary, client opportunities, work/life balance, etc).

Hope this helps.


cpacfa

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thanks for your help to the crowd.

Here is my background: I moved to America four years ago, and with luck, I unexpectedly got into Cornell. I graduated in this January with a finance major. Job market is tough plus I didn't prepare well for my interviews. I just decided to go for MBA in accounting, and get the CPA in the near future.

I passed almost all the top MBA deadlines, and the school I'm looking at now is Hofstra University (on Long Island, close to my house). I know that Cornell-->Hofstra doesn't really look good on my resume, but the program is not bad, and I probably will get in without work experience, also it's close to house, and very possible scholarships. Considering my situation and background, I think this is a good (and probably the last) opportunity for me. I want to start in this fall rather than 2010.

Any thoughts and advice?

Thanks,

Mark

Chris said...

Great post!

First of all, thanks so much for putting this website together. Your outlines definitely helped me with the CPA exam.

That being said, I too am trying to get away from public accounting and move into the consulting field. My plan this whole time was to go for a CFA right after I had passed the CPA. The idea was that the CPA / CFA combo would be enough leverage to get me out of public accounting and into a more "accounting consulting" role like TS. From there, I figured the move into a bigger consulting firm (or at least a top 10 MBA program) would be a lot easier.

But your experience seems to tell a different story as to how much clout the CPA-CFA combo really has on potential employers. I just wanted to ask then, is pursuing a CFA really worth it if you want to use it as leverage to get a better job outside of public accounting? Also, do you think that the CPA / CFA combo actually helps you get into a top 10 MBA program?

Do let me know your thoughts. Your plans in life (and even roadblocks it seems) sound so similar to mine, except you're much further along that I am.

Chris

cpacfa said...

Chris,

Thanks for your thanks!

For star employees at big 4 accounting firms, there are (or were) plenty of opportunities in transaction service groups, forensic accounting firms, and general accounting based consulting roles. However, most groups/firms have put a freeze on hiring or mobility has become more difficult. That said, the CFA will always differentiate you in the marketplace, but I don’t believe it necessary to make the move into TS. My first piece of advice is search out, network, and set-up informational interviews with as many professionals in TS or forensic accounting groups as possible. Go straight to the source, do some due diligence, and most importantly, show your interest and make meaningful contacts. You may be able to make the switch without the CFA.

In regards to your career plan, you need to identity your ultimate goal. Is it to go to a top 10 business school (and then work in whatever interests you most)? Or is it to work at a top 5 strategy consulting firm? It’s my understanding that switching into strategy consulting from a different career is incredibly difficult. Therefore, coming from your background, you have to go to a top 10 business school to work at a top strategy consulting firm.

I’ve never heard of anyone with the CFA designation then going to business school. So I can’t give any detail on the impact the CFA has as a competitive edge to getting into a top MBA program. Remember, the CFA takes a min of 2.5 years to complete then 4 years work experience. For me, I did a 1 yr masters, the CPA and the CFA – I’m all studied out. The thought of studying for another exam is too much to handle. So if you are pursuing the CFA to get into a B-school, I think costs outweigh the benefits of that plan.

I firmly believe that the CPA / CFA combo is enough to switch careers in a global bull market. However, that path is by no means certain. The only way to ensure you can switch into any career is by attending a top 10 business school. Trust me, if you want to make a career switch study for 6 months and take the GMAT. If you don’t score high enough to go to a top 20 MBA school, then take the CFA. All in, the process of getting into a business school is 1 year (6 months GMAT prep, 6 months B-school applications) vs the CFA which is 3 years.

I'm interested to discuss further if you have additional questions or commments.


cpacfa

Mark said...

Can you please give me some thoughts on the question I asked on May 2nd?

Thank you so much!
Mark

cpacfa said...

Mark,

In regards to your post on May 2nd in the "CPA vs CFA vs MBA" section, I think you know my answer. But before I give my thoughts, you need to clarify a few things on your current situation. Do you want to pursue finance or accounting? Are you currently employed? If so, is it a worthwhile opportunity? What is your ultimate career goal. My thoughts/advice will vary dramatically based on your answers.

Mark said...

Thank you.

1. Do you want to pursue finance or accounting? I don't know. I studied finance in Cornell, and I'm sure that I like finance. Not sure about accounting, just feel that finance + accounting would be strong, and opening more doors.

2. Are you currently employed? No I am not. I graduated in December 08, didn't get a job.

3. What is your ultimate career goal? Director of a big corporation's China/Asia office.

Thank you.

cpacfa said...

Well Mark, in my opinion your options are straight forward yet difficult to endure. Based on what you’ve said, you should not pursue an accounting MBA or CPA. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, once you’re an accountant you’re an accountant for life. Based on what you’ve said, you should not attend Hofstra’s MBA program. Going to Hofstra is the easiest route but I believe it’ll be a detriment to your long term goals. You should be spending all your time doing 2 things: (1) recruiting for a job (2) studying for the GMAT.
(1) You should be connecting with the Cornell career center and various recruiting firms in New York. You have a finance degree from a prestigious school and you need to leverage the alumni base. Firms are hiring but the competition is fierce and the interview process is arduous (you need to prepare and study for interviews like you would a class)
(2) If you don’t go to a top 10 (maybe 20) MBA program you’re wasting money and time. Hofstra is a great school but the finance world is superficial and vain. Don’t take the easy route. Wait another year and apply to the top b-schools. Since you don’t have work experience. You need to crush the GMAT (get above a 700) and then go do volunteer work in Asia (learn a language or two) until you have to apply to schools next year.
If you land a good job – great! You can defer your GMAT score until you’re ready to go to grad school. If you do well on the GMAT – great! You can spend the next year differentiating yourself for applications.

Mark it appears you have the tools to achieve your goals. All you need is the desire. Both recruiting and studying are time consuming and exhausting (both mentally and physically). So you are going to really have to commit to the cause. Don’t view this year as wasted, view it as progression.


cpacfa

Awanish said...

Thanks for this really informative article. Keep it up.......

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Greg said...

First off, thanks for such great notes. They're very useful in preparing for the CPA exam. Although you're going more of the finance route, I wanted to get your input on where you think I could possibly go with my background.

I'm currently taking the CPA exam and should be done by the end of the year. I passed the CISA exam last year (IT Audit) and am currently working for a Big 4 accounting firm. I don't want to be pegged to the accounting field for the rest of my life as you suggested is possible after passing the CPA exam and would like to to incorporate it into something IT-related, possibly being CIO of a company later on.

Do you think it's possible to be CIO without going for my MBA and just with CPA/CISA and public accounting experience? Are there any other paths you suggest I could take or would an MBA be the best route? Thanks again for your help.

cpacfa said...

Greg,

I don’t know a great deal about the career path of a chief information officer. However, I do know that experience counts more than anything. And a MBA will help your career more than a CPA. IT executives attend grad school to gain additional business management skills and pedigree not technical expertise. If your goal is to become CIO of a corporation, I would recommend working in an IT consulting role at a prestigious firm (which sounds like you’re doing). Then differentiate yourself by attending a top MBA school. It will make you more marketable and open more doors for you in the long run.


cpacfa

Anonymous said...

I was googling over which is better - cfa or mba when i hit upon this website. I always wanted to do an mba but procrastinating about it made me cross the psychological 30+ age barrier. I've heard its tough to break in to IB in that scenario even if one is lucky enough to get a MBA from one of the top 10/20 schools.

The way the economy is going quitting jobs for getting MBA might not necessarily work out in your favor, so the other alternative i was thinking was to do CFA. Given that i've read people commenting having CFA didnt really help much, except to differentiate one from another who didn't have a CFA, would anyone know if i opt to do CFA might help or i should just pull up my socks and concentrate on doing MBA.

Am in IT for the past 9 yrs so definitely looking for a growth in my stagnant career even if it means some change from my current line.

Any comments would be highly appreciated.

cpacfa said...

Anonymous,

I think you answered your own question fairly accurately. I don’t have the CFA just yet, but what I’ve seen leads me to believe that a gaining a CFA will not directly lead to career switch. I’ve also heard that the older you get the more difficult it becomes to land an IB associate role from a top school.

However that said, in your position going to a top 10 school is your best choice to change career paths into straight finance. My advice is to worry about the big things first. And the biggest hurdle is not getting a good job after b-school, it’s going to a top 10 business school. As you said, pull up your socks and go to a top b-school. Then when you’re looking for a job – a door more meaningful than IB will open.

Eric said...

Thanks for your insight in providing feedback as to these 3 professional designations. I recently completed my last section of the CPA and currently need another year of experience in public accounting to become certified. I felt a rush of joy upon receiving my scores, however; I realize that in today's markets the more 3 letter degrees/licenses you have after your name, the more marketable you become.

So, I am passively considering signing up for the CFA or to pursue an MBA. I'm currently assessing the risks/rewards of either. At this point, I am relatively young and may decide to continue the career path in auditing or branch off from public accounting eventually. After reading your post, it seems like the best fit for myself would be to follow a the path to CFO of a hedge fund or private equity fund. Like my personality and demeanor, I believe I am stable and like to look for the sure things in life, while taking calculated but not aggressive risks.

I am curious as to what other professionals in the financial services arena think, and if possible, can elaborate on their experiences if they are either in the same boat as I am or have made a decision to specialize in a certain area of accounting/finance.

Tony said...

Wow we are like the same person. I'm also at PwC, passed the CPA and took Level 1 of the CFA today!

Dips said...

Hi,

My name is Dipti and I am from Australia. I have been in US for 2 yrs now and all the time I had to push my exams because of work. I took Audit and Tax last year in Nov and failed with 1 mark each. I am using Becker CPA material. I like your notes and I have my exams in 2 weeks. I reviewed some of your notes in BEC. Do you think I can rely on the notes since there are updates in study materials. I mean use it like base and just keep doing the practice problems. Or should I review becker class notes as I have self study material. I love your notes and it seems more easier to skim through and understand than any other thing. I have my exams in 2 weeks and I am nervous. Its seems a lot to do and little time.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thank you,
Dipti
dtamakuwala@gmail.com

Dips said...

Hi,

My name is Dipti and I am from Australia. I have been in US for 2 yrs now and all the time I had to push my exams because of work. I took Audit and Tax last year in Nov and failed with 1 mark each. I am using Becker CPA material. I like your notes and I have my exams in 2 weeks. I reviewed some of your notes in BEC. Do you think I can rely on the notes since there are updates in study materials. I mean use it like base and just keep doing the practice problems. Or should I review becker class notes as I have self study material. I love your notes and it seems more easier to skim through and understand than any other thing. I have my exams in 2 weeks and I am nervous. Its seems a lot to do and little time.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thank you,
Dipti
dtamakuwala@gmail.com

cpacfa said...

Hi Dipti,

I'm sorry to hear about close calls on passing the exams - That's so frustrating!! As I've mentioned before, my study guide is exactly that... a guide. You should use it as a reference on how to study not as a study replacement. Use the most up to date info and create your own study notes then complete as many practice problems as possible.

What exams are you taking in the next couple of weeks? Two weeks is enough time to study for BEC, but I doubt that enough time to prepare for the other sections.

Remember, in order to pass these exams most people, including myself, need to give up everything and focus solely on studying. That means no friends, no parties and probably no fun.

Don't hesitate to ask additional questions. I'll try to help in anyway. Good luck!!!

cpacfa

cyberdog123 said...

I think that the creator of this is biased against CFA.

from what I have read in the various posts it seems that CFA is being regarded as an underdog/ subordinated degree/ designation.

this is far from correct/reality.

CFA is just as valuable as the other deisgnations/degrees if not more.

CFA may not land anyone in a top 10MBA school... that is not the criterion anyway. there are a host of other fators that a top B-school looks into apart from marks/grades and certifications.
such as leadership qualities, initiative, personality et al)

CFA definitely gets you into Finance and Securities.... how much you progress depends on your merit and application of what you have learnt. That said there is no guarantee that someone with CPA or MBA will definitely reach the top echelons of the corporate world. It is very much subjective and unclear.

coming back to CFA --- The Wall Street Journal regards it as the GOLD STANDARD in Finance.

CIAO!!!!!!

James said...

Hey there,

I just want to thank you for your blog and the valuable insights that you have shared. I have gained much more knowledge about the CPA/CFA combo from your blog than any other website or working professional I have come in contact with.

I also seem to be sharing the same path that you've taken. I'm taking REG for the second time this Sat, and assuming I pass, i will only have AUD left. I will have met my audit hours by the time I pass all exams so I should be receiving my certification shortly afterwards. I also plan on taking level 1 of the CFA this December, although it is quickly approaching.

However, I have become worried upon reading about your difficulties of making the switch into the finance industry with a CPA and level 3 candidacy on your resume. I was planning on making the same switch after passing level 1. Hopefully this transition will become easier with a bull market and a CFA certification.

But i have realized a potential roadblock to your CFA certification and plans to make the career switch. Doesn't a CFA certification require 4 years of investment related experience? So doesn't that mean your years spent at PWC doing audit work wouldn't count towards your CFA? I really hope i'm wrong. Because if not, I may have to seriously start considering whether or not a CFA is for me.

Regards,

James

cpacfa said...

Cyberdog123,

I think you’ve misconstrued my posts. I do believe the CFA holds value and that it will give an individual a competitive edge. However, I’m talking about probabilities of switching careers. Graduating from a top 10 MBA program gives an individual a much higher probability of switching careers compared to completing three levels of the CFA. I am not bias but merely stating my observations based on experience and extensive research with various industry professionals. To quickly clarify your points because they incorrectly countering points I never made:
-I never stated that the CFA is a underdog/subordinated degree
-I agree and state the CFA is a valuable designation
-I never stated that the CFA will get someone in a top MBA school
-I explicitly state that no path or career is certain because of a designation
-I agree that CFA is a well established and wall street recognized finance designation

Cyberdog123, I’m not exactly sure where the miscommunication is rooted but hopefully this clears up some of the confusion. Thanks for the post. Talk soon.


cpacfa

cpacfa said...

James,

Thanks for the kind words. If you’re a smart and driven individual, there is no question that CPA/CFA will pay dividends in the future. It’s an incredibly elite and prestigious combo. I agree a bull market and industry friends will help facilitate a switch into finance. However, I’m merely cautioning based on your ultimate goal and unique circumstances.

You are correct, the CFA does require 4 years investment related work experience to actually receive the charter. An individual must spend at least 50% of their time in the investment decision-making process in order for work experience to qualify. As a result, my time at PwC will count for the other 50% and I’m working on the 50% investment decision making process portion now and probably for many years to come. If I pass level 3 (my fingers are crossed) I don’t expect to earn the charter until realistically 2012, maybe 2013.

For more detail:
http://www.cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/charterholder/membership/work_experience.html

However, passing all three levels of the CFA is the tough part (and the true value added of the designation). Any employer will see that you’ve passed the exam and will be willing to invest in you until you earn the hours for the charter. So don’t let the work experience requirement deter you from taking the CFA. You need to weigh all the different options, including pros and cons, based on your goals and circumstances. Hope this helps. Wish you the best.


cpacfa

Anonymous said...

How hard is the ethics exam that CPA candidates have to take right before receiving their certification. No one seems to ever mention it so I'm assuming that it's a piece of cake to pass.

Also, i'm on the fast track (i forget which pathway it is) that only requires 1 year of experience. But I've heard that accounting firms are pretty reluctant to sign off hours so quickly (especially if there aren't hours in areas such as planning). Did you ever experience any such difficulties in getting your hours signed off?

cyberdog123 said...

I am not pursuing CPA so i dont really know about ethics w.r.t CPA and its level of difficulty.

ciao!!!!!

cpacfa said...

Only certain states require the ethics exam. I’m licensed in NY and the ethics part is not required (or wasn’t went I went through the process). From my understanding, the ethics portion is more of a nuisance than anything. And I actually thought it was a take home exam and then you mail it in – maybe I’m wrong. If you just put in the time, you’ll be fine.

If you completed a Masters of Accounting program you qualify for 1 year work experience vs 2 years, aka “fast track”. PwC (which I assume is the same at the big 3) tracks your hours in a firm wide time sheet database system. If you have 1 year worth of hours in the system you’ll have no problem getting signed off. At the big four, it’s not your manager or partner who signs off on your hours. There are special employees whose sole job is dealing with CPA licensing. These people don’t know you, they simply receive your CPA docs, reference the database, and sign off.

One caveat:
When I was leaving PwC, the firm was making attempts to better track how employees were spending their hours (planning vs control testing vs F/S tie outs, etc). So now there may be a way for firms to track where you spent your time. If that’s the case I have two pieces of advice (1) try to get more involved in parts of project that will meet your hours requirement (2) after 1 year of experience submit your CPA docs regardless. Cause like I mentioned, at big firms the process is standardized, so if you meet the "system requirements" you'll be signed off.

Anonymous said...

Exactly its all about what you really want, no matter what credentials, certificates, or degrees you carry under your sleeves its all about knowing what you really want otherwise you are not going anywhere...

And I have no idea what I want to do..

I am getting an MS in financial analysis but i have no idea what i want to do... one day i want to pass the CPA another day I think i should go into portfolio management and take the CFA route, I even looked into the actuary exam...

F**king eh your blog just hit the spot...

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Students Resource

Anonymous said...

I am glad I found this post. I just lost my job as a project manager due to a conflict of interest with my husband's job. Now,I am having this extreme difficult time in getting back to step one. I have my MBA in general management but I do not find it helpful at this time. I realized that , most companies are looking for concentrations in finance, economics, IT or accounting with at least 2 years of experience. Another thing is that, I was in a hurry to complete my MBA so I did not want to go to the hassle of applying to the top 10 school so I completed my MBA from a recognized but not a top 10 school.
Now, I am planning to get my Msatersin Accounting and Financial Management with a goal to get into corporate finance. But everyday, I change my mind and all those thought of " what if I'll do this instead" is playing a big role in my situation. I find my self so lost.
Maybe you guys can help!

cpacfa said...

Anonymous,

Everybody questions their future. And like most things in life, there are multiple answers. There are two things I recommend you do concurrently

1) Look deep into yourself / think hard about what you want to do and why? The "why" is the most important part. Do you just want to support your family? Do you want to keep busy? Do you love corporate finance?

2) Start viewing the job search as a job. It's a numbers game: the more recruiters, job posts, and contacts you reach out to, the better your chances of landing an interview.

2a) I would first start with your MBA school career department. It's always a good place to start. Attend alumni events, join the alumni association and get active.

2b) Depending on what city you live in, find a recruiting firm specializing in your background/region. As much as I loathe recruiters, they hold keys to largest number doors.

Hopefully this helps. Let me know if I can offer any additional perspective.


cpacfa

Cida said...

Hi there !
Same old dilemma... I graduated in accounting overseas, worked as an accounted there for 10 years , move to US in 1996, worked as business manager in DC for 10 years - worked also as an accounting with simple stuff - basically all bank and local transitions and report to CPA via Quick Books. Now want to go bank to school. CPA or MBA? Detail: I really enjoyed the administrative field , but I want to grow professionally.
Please advise.

dreams said...

Hi,

A real good website on CPA. Thanks a lot for your inputs. I am an MBA in Finance and thinking of pursuing CPA. I dont have a job right now in America. I want to work in corporate finance field. I have two questions:
1) What are the chances I land up into a job related to company valuations etc.
2) I will be applying from Wisconsin. Does the license requirement entails public accounting experience? If so! should I look out for such firms side by side with studies for CPA?

Your response would mean a lot coz' I am kind of confused.

Thanks,

Anonymous

cpacfa said...

Hi Dreams,

Where did you receive your MBA from?
1) A CPA will not help you land a valuations job. Although a good understanding of financial statements is needed for valuation, it's just one of those industry things. You should pursue the CFA designation.
2) The CPA applies to the state in which you take the exam in and where you worked. Do you want to work in Wisconsin? Remember, you can physically take the exam in Wisconsin and elect to have the exam results placed/sent to another state. Yes, you need public accounting experience to actually receive the CPA designation. So if you really want to go that route, recruit for accounting jobs.

However, based on your background and comments, I would recommend reaching out to your MBA school's career center for job opportunities in valuation. Then I would pursue the CFA. Hope that helps. Let me know your thoughts.


-cpacfa

dreams said...

Hi,

Thanks for your response.
Actually right now I am unable to find jobs in finance in the market I have been trying since last five months. I think the obstacle is my education from india and no experience in America.
The only recourse I can look is to study CPA and then land up wit a job. Its true my interests lies in corporate finance and a friend told that CPA usually would give accounting options but i dont see any other way out becuase CFA would no doubt consume more time as compared to CPA. Right now I am totally clueless about what to do and how to go about getting a decent job. Also with my major in finance I am even unsure about if I can pursue CPA here.

I am really tensed about what to do.

Cheers!!

Dreams

cpacfa said...

Hi Dreams,

Well it sounds like a really tough situation. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. To be honest, I don't think I can help all that much.

You're right, the CFA will consume much more of your time than the CPA. However, since you're educated overseas, I'm not sure you can even take the CPA exam as you might not meet the educational requirements (go to www.nasba.org and check on your state's requirement).

If your resume is strong enough I would advise using a recruiting firm to help with job placement (it's free for you, it costs the hiring firm). Otherwise, you should use use an accounting/finance focused temp agency/service to find a temporary job. Even though some consider temp'ing not very reputable, it will give you cash flow while you search for another job. Or if you're placed at a good firm, the firm may extend you a full time offer if you perform well.

Keep your head up! Times are hard but it's a numbers game. The more you reach out/apply for job the better your chances. Let me know if I can help with anything else. Good luck!


-cpacfa

Cida said...

Could you please comment on my question sent on Nov 30??
Thanks
Cida

cpacfa said...

Hi Cida,

My sincere apologies on the delayed response. You'll definitely grow pursuing either a CPA or MBA. A CPA will open more doors professionally for you in the accounting world. While an MBA itself (classmates, courses - the experience) will make you grow and potentially offer varying career paths afterwards. The question you need to ask yourself is "what do I want to do?"

If you're certain accounting/admin is the path for you, then the CPA is the route to go. It's much easier and less expensive to complete compared to an MBA

If you're uncertain, my advice would be try the MBA route first as the potential growth opportunities are more diverse than with a CPA. Study and take the GMAT. Depending on your score, apply a few schools in either a full time program or part time program (full time has more personal growth benefits) and embark on a new adventure. The amount you will learn from your teachers and classmates trump what you'll learn in the CPA exam. However, its a huge commitment of time and money.

Once again, my apologies for not responding sooner. Let me know if I can offer my perspective on anything else.


-cpacfa

Dave said...

Hi, thanks for the great comments. I am pursuing an MBA from a top 25 school and have developed interest in a career in investments. My work experience is entirely in IT and needless to say job hunt is proving tough. I am thinking of pursuing CFA along with my MBA. Does this sound like a good idea? Can clearing a couple of CFA exam levels with an MBA in finance provide a path to an investment career?

cpacfa said...

Hey Dave,

I think your plan is solid. A CFA and an MBA from a top 25 school is a powerful combo. I know one individual who took level I of the CFA between his acceptance to grad school (top 15 school) and his start the following fall. He then went on to pass Level II and III while at school. That individual was recruited as an analyst at a hedge fund out of school and is now a senior analyst at that fund.

The only advice I can give is inquire with prospective schools on graduation statistics (i.e. find out what percentage of graduates go work in i-banking, consulting, hedge funds, private equity, etc). And apply to schools where the majority of graduates go on to finance jobs. Being at a "target school" gives you a leg up in the recruiting process (however, most top schools are target schools).

In addition, take the GMAT before level I of the CFA. I think it's more important to spend your time and energy trying to crack 700 on the GMAT vs passing level I of the CFA. Best of luck!


cpacfa

davidbaer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the blog and the posts! They are so helpful. I have spent many hours researching and trying to figure out which would be a better path for me: CPA, MBA, or MS in Finance/CFA.

My first preference is MBA, but I'm already 40 years old and have been working in various business analyst and business planning analyst jobs. I have never been a manager even though I have lead a few projects. So I'm concerned that even if I smash the GMAT and even get into a to 20 MBA, employers will not be interested in me as MBA is usually to accelerate someone's management career. Or MBA is for younger people with leadership potential.

The other concern is that I will have to borrow tens of thousands of dollars and it will be over 5 years to break even even if I get the average $100 K salary from top business school. However, I am not sure if employers will be willing to invest me because of my age and because the program is online (even though from a top school.)

Anyways, I'm thinking a better option might be to take the required accounting classes and take the CPA exam. I know I will make a really good auditor as I enjoy research and analytics.

All I want to do is have a stable and good paying job to support my family. We are barely making ends meet having two young kids and a single income.

I feel like I have reached a ceiling in my career I can't break through. I tried to get a better paying job, but the requirements usually ask for MBA or CPA. I feel like I have fallen behind in terms of skills and qualifications in demand and time is running out.

I've even considered the actuarial path, but my wife does want me to be studying for the next 8-10 years even though the reward are great.

Any feedback and insights would be greatly appreciated. I really need wisdom from above to choose the right path.

Thanks again for the great blog and posts!

Stuck at a cross road

cpacfa said...

Hi Anonymous,

I think you've done some good due diligence and I agree with all your points. However, let me offer a few additional considerations

1) What are you currently doing (type of firm / position)? Your starting point matters. As you mentioned, firms are reluctant to hire older MBAs due to nearer term retirement considerations and team dynamics (e.g. you coming in as a 40 year old associate being managed by a 30 year old). But, if your skill sets are transferable and you're looking for a resume boost, an executive MBA might be a good route. However, I believe EMBA tuition is still incredibly high. Also, another route to consider is a part-time MBA. The cost is still high but it's spread over multiple years and you'll still continue to earn a salary at your job. But again, your starting point matters.

2) Given your situation, the CPA may be the best route. The CPA exam can be completed in less than one year at the relative best value (lowest cost). So I recommend you take the plunge and hope for the best on the other side. But again, a few things to consider

2a) Do you want to work at a Big Four firm? Do you want to work in public accounting? Depending on your state, to actually earn the CPA designation you need to complete X number of public audit hours. Again, it may be hard to get recruited due to your age but I think you have a better shot to get a job at an accounting firm vs a consulting firm.

2b) do you know what an auditor does? do you know what an A/P clerk at a private company does? There is very little research and analytics done (in the traditional sense). The majority of time is spent formatting spread sheets and correcting peoples mistakes. I most note that there are really interesting aspects of the job (especially at the right firm) but make sure you know what your getting yourself into. And I do agree it will offer you a very stable career

3) Unless you're a math prodigy that loves numbers and grueling exams for a decade, I agree that becoming an actuary is probably not the path for you.

In summary, your choice really depends on your starting point. However, given your situation I think a CPA may be the best route. Start positioning yourself to make the move to accounting. That means networking and developing your story. For example talk with the CFO or controller at your current firm and ask them about their job. And start pitching the story that you've been on the project side of ABC Corp for XX of years and now your really interested in the business aspect (how the business is run). Making the career switch will be more difficult than earning the credentials to do it, but I think you have the determination - mind over matter.

cpacfa

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the insights and your time! I really appreciate it.

My current position is a hybrid between business analyst and business planning. I'm involved in reviewing business processes and implementing best practicess. I am also involved in managing P&L, analyzing financial simulaitons, and developing metrics to track the business.

I think CPA will be good to know if I ever manage to start my own business. In the mean time, it might open a door in Corporate Finance. I saw CPA or MBA on the list of requirements for a senior financial analyst where I work. Also, it's a requirement for some business analyst positions. We'll see how it goes ...
Maybe, after becoming a CPA, I could get an MBA just for the fun of it :-)

Anyways, thank you again for sharing your insights and starting this blog! They are very helpful.

May you be blessed for kindly helping so many people!

All the best!

MaybeFutureCPA/MBA

Dwani said...

Hello,

Thanks for your blog, it has been really helpful for me because I'm a recent Accounting Masters graduate and I've already passed 3 of the 4 parts of the CPA exam -- BEC is my last later this month.

I have thought about taking the CFA later this year in December, however I don't know if it would help me career wise since I don't mind being an accountant for life.
Its too early to call though since I'm only 21.

I would like to ask your opinion on having a CPA license as well as being an attorney. I have spoken to some people and they have enthused about having rights of attorney coupled with a CPA.
I would like to work for a big 4 accounting firm however I don't know if attorney-CPAs are particularly attractive for them. In my opinion it seems that Attorney-CPAs are usually private practice etc. --- which to me would be something for later in my career

cpacfa said...

Hi Dwani,

A CPA coupled with a law background is a fantastic combo for tax professionals. And you're absolutely correct that the big four don't find that combo attractive. However, private investment firms, wealth management firms and law firms do! The JD, CPA combo could potentially lead to a Chief Compliance Officer role down the line at a hedge fund or P/E fund. Or the tax expert at a law firm or on a private wealth management team.

The way I envision it playing out for you is this. You go work at a big four accounting firm for 1-2 years. While at the firm you take the LSAT and apply to JD programs. After you receive the necessary hours to earn the CPA, You can re-evaluate your career choices and either stay in public accounting, leave for something different or leave to attend Law school. If you attend law school, you have essentially 3 options after your first year in school.
1) Recruit to a large law firm in their corporate finance practice
2) Recruit to a specialized finance/acctg/law role at a private fund
3) Pursue an tax LLM

Couple caveats. I've heard that the career path for lawyers has changed since the recession, historically good law programs have had trouble placing graduates at firms. So do you're homework if/when you apply to law schools. I've also heard that corporate finance work at law firms is terrible - the work is terrible, the hours are terrible but the money is great. Lastly, the JD, CPA combo is powerful if you use it correctly.

Hope that helps. Let me know if I can offer any other thoughts.

Best of luck!


cpacfa

Anonymous said...

CFA VS CPA ,Which designation has the highest average earning salaries? Thanks.

Alen said...

HI

I need an adivce from you.I am currently planning to persue msc investment banking and finance from any of uk's top 15 universities combined with CFA.After this i will gain 2 yrs of work ex and then go for MBA.My question is how much weightage will cfa give in my career,Or is it advisable to go for msc+cpa+mba.anywayz i will be going for msc and mba but confused at cfa or cpa?

Thankyou
Alen

cpacfa said...

Anonymous,

The question of which designation pays more is almost irrelevant. The real question to salary is what industry and what position. CFA holders generally work investment funds in an analyst/front office type of role. Whereas, CPA's are generally accountants and work in back office/support functions. Front office employees get paid much higher than back office staff. And don't get me wrong, CFO's and controllers make good money. But not as much as senior analysts or head traders. Again, these are generalizations and obviously circumstances differ from firm to firm.


cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Hi Alen,

I think you have a strong career plan. If you're going the finance route, the CFA is a much better choice without question. The difficult part will be execution. Cause I can tell you studying for the CFA is draining. The CFA is incredibly value added for market based work (equity research, hedge fund analyst, etc). And it is a strong differentiator for transaction based work (investment banking, private equity, etc) but not a requisite. If you've got the drive and the energy, the CFA will only help you in the long run. Hope that helps. Let me know if I can offer my thoughts on anything else.


cpacfa

Alen said...

Hi cpacfa
Thankyou so much,iv been searching websites but never found any info like you gave.Just one last thing that to work in an Multinational firm will cfa prove to be an edge,or cpa is more welcomed in mnc's.Is it advisable to go for cfa and cpa both or do u advice to stick to one.

cpacfa said...

Hey Alen,

Glad I could help. In more technical terms, the CFA charter is global. Meaning, if you became a CFA holder while in London, you're still a CFA holder if you move to New York. On the other hand, the CPA designation is bound by jurisdiction (a California CPA can't sign audit opinions in NY unless they get reciprocity). But most importantly, both the knowledge and skills sets derived from either designation are obviously transferable as the core principles of accounting and finance are constant. And every employer knows that.

Essentially, it all depends on what you want to do. From your previous question, it sounds like you want to pursue a career in finance. Finance does require sound accounting knowledge but a CPA or CA is not essential to being successful as an analyst. But neither is a CFA. Both are merely credentials that will help advance your career in the long run.

So if you want to be in finance, stick with the CFA. If you want to be more of an accountant pursue a CPA or CA. I recommend one or the other. The thing I've discovered is -- it's better to be the master of one trade than the jack of all.


cpacfa

Anonymous said...

hi!!! guys....
this cources doin a single does not help much
but if u do all three then ur future will be so bright
so i am and also looking people around me so happy in their life....
so dnt wrry abt ur years gtin wasted bt try to complete all three......
thanks.....

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I came across your blog while searching for the pros & cons of CFA certification.

My professional experience is mostly with real estate accounting. I work as a property accountant in one of the top commercial real estate co. who owns class a properties. I don't want to do accounting for the rest of my life & I want to go into finance; maybe starts as a financial analyst in a private equity firm or asset management but due the my background, I'm so pigeon hole with property accounting and recruiters said it will be hard for me to switch. Do you think a CFA will help & open doors for me? Also, I'm not really keen of getting an MBA but prefer to work on my CFA if I this will open the door for me to switch from accounting to finance.

Thanks and your comments would be greatly appreciated.

cpacfa said...

Hi Anonymous,

I think I’ve laid out my thoughts pretty clearly. The best way to switch careers within the scope of business is to pursue an MBA. And not only that, but pursue an MBA from a top school (either top national or regional school depending on what you what you want to do as this will make you more marketable when recruiting for a job).

As I’ve mentioned, the CFA is a great credential. However from what I’ve seen, using the CFA to switch into a pure finance role doesn’t always work. Of course having the CFA will help your chances but it by no means ensures success. If you have the time and energy to dedicate to the CFA – do it. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll differentiate yourself from your peers. Just don’t expect that once you complete the CFA that magical doors of finance will open. Don’t’ get me wrong, those doors are out there. You’ll just have to work really hard to get through them. Happy to share my thoughts on anything else

cpacfa

Michael said...

Hi:

Read through everything, Thanks for all the information:

I'm still a senior in college pursuing a degree in economics. My goal is to work for hedge fund/ Portfolio Management. I am currently Signed up and studying to pass CFA Exam 1. My goal is to Pass Level 1 in December, Level II the following June, then Level III. My plan is to graduate with CFA level 1 and 2 passed, get a finance related job for a year or two - then apply to a b-school. My grades are not very attractive at the moment - Would you say this is a good route? Do you think I should spend more time studying for GMAT? - I am certain I want CFA and MBA in Finance - I'm just not sure which order would benefit me the most.

Thanks in Advance.

john said...

Hi there,

I came across your blog while searching for CPA VS CFA VS MBA
I got good info from ur posts here and there

thank you very much

I’m not from the U.S but I got my BS in finance in there recently. now I’m working back home as an accountant at one of the top three oil company in the world. I had plans before I start working to get my MBA or CFA when I start working. however I’m little more confuse now since a CPA might work better with me since I’m working as an accountant. also a MBA from a top school can be hard to get now since i just start working and im not in the US. i realy dont want to stuck in the back office for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Hello cpacfa,
Is there a way I can get your email contact. I am so confused in figuring out what to do. Please email me if you can. Thanks.
rishabh_1389@yahoo.co.in

Anonymous said...

My background:

I am a bachelors in commerce and have finished my post graduate diploma in Business administration (its Equivalent to an MBA here in India), specialization Marketing and finance.

I worked in my family business(restaurants) for a few years before starting a Business Process outsourcing firm for the American market. Went from doing Architectural 3d CAD/CAM projects and then shifted 3 years back to Medical transcription and Medical Billing and coding.
I am tired of chasing a dream which seems to be running faster than me and hence unachievable. I need a change. I lost a lotta money and time trying to build a company & now need to get my LIFE back on track. I have a green card and am thinking of shifting to the US.

I don’t know how my education qualifications or my experience as an entrepreneur in India will help me land a good job in the US. So I am planning to do a course to boost my credentials in the US job market (or anywhere for that matter).

I am debating between doing a CPA (but i am 33 yrs old!!) or CFA.

I would really appreciate some good advice and quick.

cpacfa said...

Hi Michael,

Well the good news is you have good career perspective and you know what it takes to work in portfolio management - a CFA and MBA is a strong combo. However, let me caution you on looking too far ahead. Your undergraduate GPA will stay with you always. Even on your second and third job, employers will want to know your undergraduate GPA. Although your grades might be subpar now, make sure to dominate from here on out (your senior year). Then you can show prospective employers/interviewers that you’ve gotten your act together and you can show on your resume Business/ Economics GPA which will be higher than your overall GPA.

Many of the concepts in level I overlap material in upper level undergraduate business classes. I definitely think you should take level 1 in December and spend the necessary time to study well. As a senior, having completed level 1 and being a level II candidate (assuming you pass level I and enroll to take level II) would show your dedication and definitely make your resume stand out. And given your situation, I think it’s the best route to take. However, the only problem I see is an allocation of time (can you enjoy senior year, dominate your upper level classes and still have time to study for level I?) and the recruiting timeline. Most firms recruit for full time positions in the fall. Therefore, the plan wouldn’t be reflected in your resume. And you definitely want to participate in on-campus recruiting (and interview preparation is a lot of work as well).

As I mentioned in the CPA vs. CFA vs. MBA post, going to business school (for all intensive purposes), resets your career. One weekend, you should take an hour or two and do some research on the avg work experience of new students at a school (E.G. the avg work experience for new students at Wharton is XX). I’m fairly certain, that only a very small percentage of students make it into a top business school with less than 1 or 2 years work experience. I’m also fairly certain this information is readily available. Ultimately, my point here is taking the GMAT can wait (unless of course you’re a phenom at standardized tests).

Michael, good luck on everything. You’re going to crush it. Let me know if I can share my thoughts on anything else.

-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Hi John,

I think pursuing a CPA will lead you eventually towards a CFO role. If that’s not for you or you want to get out of the back office, the best route is the MBA. And don’t fret about being abroad. Do some research and you’ll see many US schools accept a fairly large number of international students (some more than others). In addition, there are many great international MBA programs (the FT has a good list ranking schools every year). The one thing they all have in common though is that you have to do well on the GMAT. So dig deep on your career aspirations and do some research on MBA programs and hopefully things will go your way.

-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Hi Anonymous (rishabh_1389)

Please post here and I will answer your question. Thanks.

-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Anonymous,

Well it really depends what you want to do. With such a diverse background, I can’t infer your future aspirations. I think the CFA would be preferable given your education. Give me a little more detail on your goals and hopefully I can better tailor my thoughts.

-cpacfa

Eric said...

Hi CPACFA,

I am a 2nd year associate at a Big 4 accounting firm in NYC. I passed all 4 parts of the CPA exam and will obtain the necessary auditing hours in a few months to become certified. Like yourself, I am interested in branching off from the world of auditing - eventually. I am considering whether to sit for the December Level 1 CFA exam. I have mainly worked on hedge fund clients while working at my current job so I have knowledge of the markets as well as most financial products. I enjoy learning new things and try to keep abreast of the hedge fund industry. I feel that whatever I do, I want to add value to the company, try different approaches at problem solving, and take pride in my work as if the CEO was reviewing it.

With that said, I am aware that most executive people outside the Big 4 will only view me as a middle/back office worker. The other day, I heard one of my colleagues (he has been through 5 busy seasons) mention that he went to interview at a private equity firm and that he got the message from several of his interviewers that they view someone with 5-6 years (or even 10+) of Big 4 experience having done nothing more than the equivalent of 1 year of auditing 5-6 times (or 10).

My question to you CPACFA is twofold: how long should I stay in public accounting before exploring other career options? I am not sure that portfolio management is right for me and thus am hesistant to expend the time and energy studying for the CFA. (I believe it is $1,000 a shot). Given my situation, do you think it would be more advantageous for someone in my position to sit for the CFA or to take the GMAT and try for a top 5-10 MBA school?

Personally, I am leaning towards the latter option. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

-Eric

Anonymous said...

with regards to my post on June 7th...
I want to get my self a good paying job using my experience as an entrepreneur and my operations experience....
I am debating between CPA & CFA... i know both are completely diff ... but i have a little background in both.(graduation in a/c's and post grad in finance). Given the current scenario do you think either CPA or CFA .. will provide me the platform to get a decent paying, stable and growth defined job in the US??!!

Appreciate your support

F

Karie said...

Hi,
I loved your blog.So much info on CPA and CFA.
could you give me your opinion on my situation:
B.S in engineering grad
3 years work exp in the technology industry(QA-computer software)
I want to move into the finance world. I want to start off my going in to accounting. I'm planning a master's course in accounting and then later I will take up CPA.
Does this all make sense?
Will I be able to get interviews for myself given my background?I do not have accounting experience. This is my main fear. Later,may be 5 years down the line,I plan to take MBA in Finance and move into finance.

Please provide your thoughts
Thanks.
KArie.

cpacfa said...

Eric,

You’re exactly where I was a couple of years ago. Almost exactly. My advice to you is to take the GMAT and pursue an MBA at a top 5-10 school.

Studying for the GMAT takes about a month maybe two months at most. My friends tell me Manhattan GMAT [http://www.manhattangmat.com] (located all over the country) is the best prep program. So I would advise for you to immediately start studying and take the GMAT as soon as possible. And then apply as early as you can for b-schools. After you apply, you should start interviewing for other job opportunities. I believe this sequence of events will grant you the most optionality. If you don’t get into the schools of your choice, you’ll have a backup plan. As you mentioned, if audit is not for you, you need to make a move out as soon as you can. Also, if you find an amazing job, you can put b-school on hold.

My overarching point it simple but the execution will take some planning due to timing. Go to b-school. Get out of audit.

-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

F,

In order to sit for either the CPA or CFA exam, you need to have met the education requirement. I’m assuming you meet the prerequisites for both. So double check before you dive into studying.

The CPA is easier to complete and will yield results in less than a year (you can pass all four parts and put it on your resume in 8 months). And you’ll be able to find an accounting job much easier than a front office finance role. So if your goal is to simply get into the door and work at a firm in a stable role, then follow this path.


-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Thanks Karie!

That makes sense. And accounting is the basis of business. But I think you have an extra step in there. Why not take the GMAT and go straight to business school? The main benefits of business school for non-business professionals are the broad curriculum scope and its formalized recruiting process. So after attending b-school, you can still work in accounting (recruit to a big 4 firm) and pursue a CPA. Or maybe you really like marketing, and decide to pursue that instead. Or maybe you love DCFs and NPV and recruit into a valuation role. Always start broad then get narrow.


-cpacfa

Karie said...

Hi CPACFA,
What you say about business school makes sense.
However,I was under the impression that I would need to get into a top business school,otherwise my degree of MBA stands unnoticed. Is this true? That's the reason I thought of venturing in MSA/MAcc as they are more specialized.And, the good news is cost for MAcc courses are lower than MBA too. I am going to consider your suggestion of MBA :)
That makes sense to me

-Karie

Eric said...

Thank you cpacfa for your insight. If you don't mind me asking, are you currently in a top 10 MBA program? More importantly, how did you go about financing your post grad education? I realize these questions are a bit personal and obviously would vary from individual to individual depending on age, geographic market, personal circumstances, etc.

Any advice you'd be willing to share is greatly appreciated.

-Eric

cpacfa said...

Karie,

Ultimately, deciding which MBA program to attend, and for what purpose, depends on what you what to do afterwards. There are many great what I call regional MBA programs. These programs are well ranked, known nationally, less expensive than a private school program, easier to get accepted into (on a relative basis) but really only carry weight in their region. Such examples include the Foster School of Business (University of Washington), Mays Business School (Texas A&M), and Kelley School of Business (Indiana University). Obviously, these are great programs with graduates who go one to the work in the upper echelons of business. But these programs are not a HBS, Penn or Stanford. Regardless, these “regional” schools will still expand your business knowledge, professional network, and career options.

At the end of the day, it’s about an allocation of time and energy. And you’ll have to take the GMAT to apply to both MAcc and MBA programs. So if your goal is to start at a MAcc program go into accounting then pursue an MBA, maybe you should just go straight for a MBA. On the flip side, a MAcc program is much cheaper (compared to an MBA program) and there is much less uncertainty regarding your future (you go to a MAcc program you’ll get an accounting job). So if you think accounting is the career for you, just pursue a specialized accounting program.

Obviously, you’re going to have the weight all the different factors and choose the school and program that fits you and your goals best. Hopefully I’ve laid out my thoughts in a clear and concise manner that helps illuminate some of the different factors to consider. Let me know if I can share my thoughts on anything else.


cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Eric,

If you read the “Introduction” and “CPA vs CFA vs MBA” sections of the website, you’ll see that I’ve completed an undergraduate degree in business (accounting and finance focus), masters degree in accounting, the CPA exam and just took level III of the CFA exam. I made the conscious decision to take the CFA instead of going the MBA route. Although, I might pursue an MBA at some point in the future, I’m currently fatigued on test taking and will wait a while and then re-evaluate my life/career options.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded in New York by the best and the brightest. These individuals who consist of friends, colleagues and acquaintances, went to top undergraduate programs then worked at top consulting, investment banking and accounting firms. At networking events and social gatherings conversations of career are ubiquitous. Many of these same individuals are either attending top 10 MBA programs or are in the pursuit. Through these conversations I’ve developed a unique perspective and various insights to different career paths and opportunities.

In terms of financing your post graduate situation, that is very situational and without detailed information I doubt I’ll be able to help. Additionally, as I’ve never gone through it first hand, I’m unsure if I’ll be able to add valuable insight.

Eric, hope that helps answer your question. Let me know if there is anything else I can share.


cpacfa

Karie said...

Thanks cpacfa.
Your reply made so much sense. I am in NYC and I plan to attend CUNY colleges for my MAcc.My family may be moving elsewhere too,so I don't know if I"ll be here that long. But,I"ll surely plan to work toward GMAT atleast so that I can get started with admissions.
YEs,I prefer a MAcc too because it wil give me the necessary credits for CPA,an accounting job and a spealization(MBA is a generic degre in my opinion).
Are there jobs out there for those who have work experience in non-finance fields after MAcc? Are you aware? This is the only fear that I have. I do not want to be jobless after my MAcc just because my previous 4 years work exp was a different thing(IT/computer industry).
Thanks!

Ryan said...

Would it be enough to use the Becker review to pass the CPA exams? I am only a undergrad business in finance grad. I am a CFA charterholder though. It gets me interviews, along with the USC degree, but hasn't opened many doors in this economy.

cpacfa said...

Hi Ryan,

Becker is definitely enough to get you through and pass the CPA exams. I used the video lectures and notes which I thought were pretty helpful.

I'm slightly confused, you're an undergrad and a CFA charterholder? You need four years work experience to officially earn the CFA charter.

The ultimate question is what to you want to do? Accounting or finance? If it's accounting take the CPA. If its finance, just work hard on getting and nailing the interviews you eluded to in your post. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

cpacfa

Reza said...

Hi,

I am in a confused position today i have dome MBA in Marketing from Bombay University and am currently a permanent USA residence working for U.S Bank since past 6 months now. The job profile which i am having is not so deserving which i had in India taking into consideration my qualification. In India i was in the same banking industry and i was thinking of doing MBA again here in America but in Finance but seeing the current market situation spending any thing more than $ 50000 sounds too risky so i thought of achieving career growth through other means like either do CPA or CFA i have my bachelors in Accounting and Economics and have done MBA post that. Am looking for a good advice before i plunge into something here.

Reza
mreza.mohseni@gmail.com

sunny said...

Hi cpacfa,

I am sunny in dubai, I am an undergraduate in commerce from India,I am planning to take my career in finance, but i am a bit confusued about to take CFA or not as its very hard , Can I take the CPA exam to launch my career in this field and later on choose between CFA and MBA??

Please help.

SUNNY

Anonymous said...

CPA or CFA or MBA???

Well, it depends on your perception of "value". Banks and Fortune 500 firms typically ask for MBAs from a B school where their executives came from and then maybe a CFA credential. The MBA can do a lot but the CFA credential is great if you plan to either live in NY or do consulting work for a big firm for the rest of your career.

I do not make as much money as you folks in NY do and I am still happy to be stuck in public accounting but I do get hand written notes saying thank you for a job well done many times a year. To me, that is "value".

Maybe I am a simple man. I passed the CPA exam when it was still pencil and scantrons....Maybe many folks here don't even know what a scantron is...:-))

For folks who plan to study for either the CPA or the CFA, my answer is yes they are both passable with the Passmaster software. The owner of this blog is a living example.

Good luck folks with your CPA, CFA, and MBA plans.

Kind regards

Anonymous said...

For folks in Asia, the CPA designation is an American credential that is granted by the state of your residence (Texas, Ohio, New York, Florida, California blah bhah blah).

If you are not a US citizen, you can obtain the equivalent "Chartered Accountant" and I think it is a well known credential in the UK and the Common Wealth states.

Anonymous said...

By and large, you will post your GPA unless you have nothing else to show on your CV or resume.

Kind regards

Anonymous said...

Hi CPACFA, i gotta say, i am also very close to pursuing your path as i would like to find more about what do you think your exit opportunities are. Here's a little about my background. I went a state school and was fed into the propaganda of doing their 5 year MBA program. After that, went to a big 4 doing IT audit related work. Decided that I am not fond of IT audit after a year and pursued a personal venture in asia doing some real estate investments and trading which obviously did not pan out. Came back to the states and decided to get back to my corporate career again. Like you, i was more interested in Finance/business type of roles, however, opportunities during these past 2 years for a good finance role are almost nonexistent. I wanted to get an MBA from a top tier school but I was told by most top schools that i am not eligible as i already have an MBA.(Fault on my part as i did not do my due diligence back in undergrad) Thus, i figured a CPA would be pretty useful so i did a quick MSinAcc just to get the extra accounting classes in. After finishing that, landed a role in Big 4's Investment management assurance div probably focusing on hedgefunds/real estates/pe's ect ect.(A helll whole lot better than IT audit) Reason i'm back in big 4 again is to pay my dues in terms of getting some FSA/audit exp under my belt. So my question is, what do you think your exit opportunities are for you and for me with CPA and some CFA level 1 or 2. Like you, iam interested in the future -> hedge funds/ PE. May be i'm mistaken but with a Big 4 background, it is possible to get into Hedge funds/ PE right, just differs in the type of job within the PE. Because my prior colleagues from big 4 have moved into Big PEs like Blackrock/KKR from audit and tax. Thanks a again!

Sajjad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sajjad said...

Hi,

Thanks for all the information, its very helpful.

Please consider my situation :

I'm doing a BA in Financial Economics with minor in Business from Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario) . My GPA is low, 2.75 (C+). I'm in my final year and I'm trying to raise my GPA but I don't think it'll be higher than a 2.8 (B-). Do I have a chance of getting into an MBA ? I'm planning on enrolling into CFA, and will write the exam for level 1 in June. Would completing level 1 make me a more competitive candidate for an MBA program ? I'm graduating in April and will be working as a financial advisor at a brokerage firm while preparing for the CFA exam. Would experience as a financial advisor help me in getting a job as an Analyst ?

Thanks for your help,

Sajjad

cpacfa said...

Anonymous,

Fed into the propaganda of the 5th year Masters program?!? Well stated my friend. I’m going to quote that going forward! Your friends have moved from big 4 firms and are working in the front office of Blackrock and KKR? Or they’ve moved to those firms and are working in back/middle office positions? Big distinction you need to clarify.

From your current position, you can go find work easily at a HF or PE shop in the back or middle office. My blog is about the realization that it’s incredibly difficult to move from a big four accounting firm into a front office role at an alternative investment fund. Now I know a few people who’ve done it, but they are few and very far between.

Give me some additional detail on where you want to go and I’ll try to share relevant insight.

-cpacfa

cpacfa said...

Hi Sajjad,

You should read my comments to other questions in the blog for additional details but I’ll give you a short version here. The number one factor that will help you get into a top MBA school is your GMAT score. Having passed level 1 of the CFA is good but compared to top GMAT score means very little. So focus your energy on getting above a 700 on the GMAT.

What type of analyst? An investment banking analyst? An equities research analyst? Unfortunately, I don’t know a single person that worked as a financial advisor then later became an aforementioned analyst. But there is always a place to be first.

-cpacfa

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone,

I would like to add my two cents to this discussion.

On the question of what combination is better (CPA vs CFA vs MBA) on a persons resume to obtain employment or further a career, I would like to say the following.

1. A CPA is a license to practice accounting. Meaning the government gives your profession some protection from individuals without CPAs trying to do your work. People who do not have a CPA and would like to do CPA type work will often hit a glass ceiling and resort to either earning a Enrolled Agent, or some other designation. Only a CPA can do a CPA's job. JD can come close for tax issues, but an LLM in tax should be earned. With that said, its more about job security than anything else.

2. As for CFA, MBA etc. A CFA can do the job of an MBA and vice versa. One is a degree and another is a designation but NOT a a license. Both are good to have but the government does not do anything to protect you from someone who is not a CFA or MBA to work similar to yours. For example you can be a real estate professional and still run a hedge fund. You can even get a job at a Private Equity or Venture Capital firm without having a CFA or MBA. Of course it helps to have one, but the bottom line, your not as protected as Accountants and Lawyers who have government protection from others entering their area of practice and who are not qualified.

As for turning the CPA, MBA, CFA combination into a great job or stellar career, that is up to you and how you can obtain those goals. I have seen people with high GPA's and CPA/MBA work at PWC and get laid off because of performance issues. I have also seen people with just a undergraduate degree with a low GPA get hired, work hard, get that CPA and one even got a Masters in Tax and slowly grow his career.

Remember, you do not want to end up being that person with with the resume that says John Doe, CPA, CFA, MBA. Etc. When I was interviewing individuals for my firm, I did see more than a few people with these designations and more. I prefer to see at most, of two designations and quality work experience, rather then numerous educational experience.


The only advice I can give is the following. First decide what is needed to further your career now. That is what will give you more management responsibilities which lead to more money. Second obtain the designation that is more suited to your current JOB. I have seen many people make mistakes from switching from Finance to Accounting or Accounting to Finance. Not only will you lose experience, but possibly also potential salary.

If you are truly desperate, I suggest you do the following.

1. Study for GMAT, and get into a top business school. The Harvard and Stanford's of the world. Unless you get a MBA from a top school, you wont cut it with the competition from individuals who do come from those schools. I have seen so many people with MBA's during interviews. Almost everyone has one because schools now see the money to be made in that business. SO unless you got a top school listed with an MBA, dont bother.

Also dont not forget, graduate with the highest possible GPA!!!

2. If you cant get into a top school as stated in #1, then study hard for the CFA, or CPA etc. Get a designation or license that shows your serious.

3. If you cant do anything in #1 or #2, then go to a college with a good reputation in your area if your looking for a job in you area. Use the schools resources (career centers) to network and try to start a career with a firm. Even small firms are great starting points to something bigger.

Thanks. Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Part 1

Hello Everyone,

I would like to add my two cents to this discussion.

On the question of what combination is better (CPA vs CFA vs MBA) on a persons resume to obtain employment or further a career, I would like to say the following.

1. A CPA is a license to practice accounting. Meaning the government gives your profession some protection from individuals without CPAs trying to do your work. People who do not have a CPA and would like to do CPA type work will often hit a glass ceiling and resort to either earning a Enrolled Agent, or some other designation. Only a CPA can do a CPA's job. JD can come close for tax issues, but an LLM in tax should be earned. With that said, its more about job security than anything else.

2. As for CFA, MBA etc. A CFA can do the job of an MBA and vice versa. One is a degree and another is a designation but NOT a a license. Both are good to have but the government does not do anything to protect you from someone who is not a CFA or MBA to work similar to yours. For example you can be a real estate professional and still run a hedge fund. You can even get a job at a Private Equity or Venture Capital firm without having a CFA or MBA. Of course it helps to have one, but the bottom line, your not as protected as Accountants and Lawyers who have government protection from others entering their area of practice and who are not qualified.

As for turning the CPA, MBA, CFA combination into a great job or stellar career, that is up to you and how you can obtain those goals. I have seen people with high GPA's and CPA/MBA work at PWC and get laid off because of performance issues. I have also seen people with just a undergraduate degree with a low GPA get hired, work hard, get that CPA and one even got a Masters in Tax and slowly grow his career.

Remember, you do not want to end up being that person with with the resume that says John Doe, CPA, CFA, MBA. Etc. When I was interviewing individuals for my firm, I did see more than a few people with these designations and more. I prefer to see at most, of two designations and quality work experience, rather then numerous educational experience.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

The only advice I can give is the following. First decide what is needed to further your career now. That is what will give you more management responsibilities which lead to more money. Second obtain the designation that is more suited to your current JOB. I have seen many people make mistakes from switching from Finance to Accounting or Accounting to Finance. Not only will you lose experience, but possibly also potential salary.

If you are truly desperate, I suggest you do the following.

1. Study for GMAT, and get into a top business school. The Harvard and Stanford's of the world. Unless you get a MBA from a top school, you wont cut it with the competition from individuals who do come from those schools. I have seen so many people with MBA's during interviews. Almost everyone has one because schools now see the money to be made in that business. SO unless you got a top school listed with an MBA, dont bother.

Also dont not forget, graduate with the highest possible GPA!!!

2. If you cant get into a top school as stated in #1, then study hard for the CFA, or CPA etc. Get a designation or license that shows your serious.

3. If you cant do anything in #1 or #2, then go to a college with a good reputation in your area if your looking for a job in you area. Use the schools resources (career centers) to network and try to start a career with a firm. Even small firms are great starting points to something bigger.

Anonymous said...

You should get a CPA if you've been working in accounting, and think carefully about it if you're not in the field..... if you're in San Francisco, Chicago, or New York.. one of the big financial centers consider the CFA. There is no perfect combo, I know plenty of people with top 10 MBA's who are weirdo's and can't move up past a supervisory position.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

This sight is very helpful and I would be glad if you could provide some insights on whether to pursue CFA, MPA or MBA. I have been working in the public pension fund for over 4 years now. My duties include pension payouts and I assist in the management of our portfolios, etc. I have no interest of becoming a CPA holder in the US coz I already have one from foreign country (although I can't use it here title wise coz there is no reciprocity with the Washington state). I have a strong back ground in Accounting but unfortunately this won't be enough if I want to pursue an executive position in a retirement system. My ultimate goal within 5-10 years is to become Public Retirement System Executive so should I pursue MPA or CFA or both?

Thank you and more power to you.

Cathy

Anonymous said...

Hi cpacfa,

Your posts are very helpful. Here's my story and I'd like to get some advices from you about how I can switch career from IT professional to a business professional (financial analyst, portfolio manager, etc).

My undergrad is Computer Science from a top Chinese college. Then, I got my master degree in Computer from a famous but not top university in U.S. I have been in IT field over 10 years in a well-known fund company. During that period, I also completed a part-time MBA from an OK state college. I am interested in asset & portfolio management. But, the MBA didn't help me on career change. I am in my late thirties. I don't think I am allowed to apply for another MBA program because I have one already. So, I think my choice is pursuing some valuable financial certificates, such as CFS (certified Fund Specialist), FRM (Financial Risk Manager), and CFA.

Do you think a MBA with CFS, FRM, and CFA, as well as the web development experience on a financial service company can help me land on an entry to middle level job in asset management or related financial field?

Or are there some other ways to achieve my goal?

Thank you in advance for sharing me with your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting discussion. I am 25, and I finished my CPA exams about 2 years ago, and I have about 2.5 years of public accounting at a regional firm. I've had more than enough auditing, and I am thinking that an MBA may be the way to go to get to where I want to be. I would like to do some sort of financial analysis/management/sales, combination, but not necessarily IB. I do know that I don't want to come in to a career at a low level. I just would like to know, what kind of time commitment is the GMAT? I don't really have any "leadership" type stuff on my resume either, which seems to be a big deal for getting into one of these top MBA programs. If I went to a Calif St school, had mediocre grades, and somehow got a 700 on the GMAT, does the fact that I have a CPA license hold any weight if I tried to apply to Haas or one of the top 10 MBA programs?

jdb381 said...

I would check out AnalystExams.com. They have an interesting poll on the subject.

agrata said...

Hello,

I am in a very difficult position as I cannot decide between CPA and CFA. I have a masters degree in economics and I do not have any work experience. I want to do a course which will help me in finding a job. Could you help me by suggesting which course would be helpful for me. I am really confused. Thanks a lot
Agrata
sarafagrata@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm Dennis. I'm a practicing trial lawyer here in the Phil. I have been. trial lawyer for 7 years now. recently, I have been trying to expand the areas of my practice. I just took and passed the Phil. realty broker exam, and am set to take the realty appraiser exam. At the same time, i'm supervising/co-managing our family business, w/c is a
overseas manpower recruitment agency.

lately, i have been reading on stocks, and
got challenged by the cfa exam. my question is: will a cfa designation help my career in any way? I'm
thinking that maybe a cfa designation may open new
doors for me.

I'm single so no urgent monetary considerations to think about.

cpacfa said...

Hi Agrata,

Your question is expansive and unfortunately there is no straight or correct answer. A lot depends on what you want to do in life. The career paths of a CPA and a CFA are relatively well defined so determine what you want to do before jumping in. Both exams are large commitments so before taking either, I would suggest working a year or two first to get a better sense of your career.

It might seem like a chicken and an egg scenario (I need the credentials to get a job, but I need to work to figure out which credential to pursue). However, if you really work hard at the recruiting and interview process you'll land a job. As recent graduate, firms are looking for potential rather than experience. Spend your energy and effort in the job search. Then figure out how to best position yourself after. Hope that helps.


cpa-cfa

cpacfa said...

Hi Dennis,

What doors are you looking to open? Are you trying to become an investment analyst? Are you reading stocks for personal reasons? What challenged you about the CFA exam? Tell me a little bit more and be better able to share my thoughts.


cpa-cfa

Anonymous said...

HI
I name is Vinod I am form commerce back ground. i am looking for so me tips on CFA. I want to pursue CFA & than MBA after that i wnat to know if beckers would help me in CFA studies or not i have gone through a lot of comment on this website & i have heard about the beckers institute. Please help me in this I want to do something in finance & investment & in my grad i have scored 80 in tax, 86 in cost accounting, 75 in accounts, 90 in FSA & 85 in FM .. is that good to clear the CFA exams or i need some thing more to crack CFA? Any other tips would be great help any idea please post it to this website

Please help me ...

cpacfa said...

Hi Vinod,

I've actually updated and created a new website.

http://www.cpa-cfa.org

I actually address and answer your exact question about which CFA study materials to use here:

http://cpacfa.squarespace.com/which-exam-prep/

Let me know if I can help with anything else. Thanks.


-cpacfa

CTPCMA said...

Great post and comments here.

I have a question myself. Hopefully people here will offer their advice. I am definitely going for a MBA (already took my GMAT), was planning to apply this year but got a new amazing responsibility at work and am thinking of postponing MBA by a year. I currently do corporate finance (with no finance education)and I have realized that there is so much I have to learn.Since I won't be going back to college for another two years, I am thinking maybe I should use this time to learn more. Here is what I was thinking:

1) CTP (Corporate Treasury Management): My new role will be in Treasury, so I thought it will also help with my new role.And it has only one exam.
2) CMA (Corporate Management Accountant): Will learn a lot about Corporate Finace (Financial Planning and Analysis in general).
3) CFA: Maybe start by taking Level I now and complete Levels II and III during and after MBA.
4) Don't bother with any of these.

What do you guys think? Or does my rationale not make sense? Or are there other better ways of learning these materials? I was just thinking that signing up for an exam will keep me on track and also get me a certification at the end. I realize that studying for these exams are not easy, that is why I am seeking some advice before I commit. Any advice/feedbacks will be highly appreciated.

Jul95 said...

Hi, this is a great site with valuable advice for anyone on a cross-road. Thanks to the creator -what you are doing is great!
My question - I am female lawyer, 32 years old, with 7-8 years of experience - corporate and real estate; I am a partner in my law firm. I am good in what I am doing, but I am considering career and country change to business related profession. Quarter-life crisis of sort. The opportunity cost is small since the standard of life and average earnings in my home country are low. I consider MBA from top MBA school as shortcut to the change I am looking for - to switch to a job more rewarding than law in terms of money and work & life balance; a job, which will enable me to 'see' and 'touch' my creation. Hope this does not sound too cheesy. Have not taken the GMAT yet, but my preparation test scores are in the range of 620-630 The other options are not CPA or CFA (even though I was tempted by the Master of Finance, but I guess I am too old for such specialization), but to: 1. Further specialize in law in a top-tier university with the idea to land a job in a big international law office or 2. Just go into business without any economic education - by establishing my own business. My concern with MBA is that I am too 'old' for MBA; also my GMAT is mediocre for top B-schools and my 100% legal background does not improve my application profile. My concern to start a business of my own is that I do not know even how to make my way through FS. And LLM from a top-university especially in these years and at this age does not guarantee employment in UK/US, which are my target countries for future work. All that said, is career-switching still actual in 2011/2012? What are the perspectives of 30 + career switchers to land a good job in terms of money and moral reward after 1 year of theoretical training on a new subject? Is it worth trying altogether? Regards, Jul95

cpacfa said...

Hi Jul95

Thanks for the post. I have some friends and colleagues who've dealt with a similar predicament. Before I answer, can I ask how you found the blog? I have created a new website and I updated all my notes with the new web address.

http://www.cpa-cfa.org

Is there anyway you can copy and re-post your question there? I'm sorry for the hassle and inconvenience. I'm just trying to manage one blog instead of two. Thanks for understanding.


-cpacfa

Jul95 said...

It's perfectly OK, cpacfa. I found this site while browsing to see discussions and choices on subjects close to my dilemma. So - completely by chance.

Anonymous said...

ONe query, My Name is Akhil MATHUR , I am living in INdia & i have done the INdia CFA now I am willing to do CPA. So Please advice Me whether it is worthwhile of doing this or not. If yes which state is preferreble

amarleelaa said...

hi i have cleared my CA course 2 yrs back,,,i am not into any job/profession,.,.which course shall i pursue???

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

it is really helpful reading this blog. I want to be an financial analyst so i intend to pursue CFA. i am a final -year student now and intend to take CFA level in June. My question is whether i find a job at Big 4 with CFA level 1?

Thank you so much, look forward to receving your answer.

cpacfa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the post - interesting question. Before I answer, can I ask how you found the blog? I have created a new website and I updated all my notes with the new web address.

http://www.cpa-cfa.org

Is there anyway you can copy and re-post your question there? I'm sorry for the hassle and inconvenience. I'm just trying to manage one blog instead of two. Thanks for understanding.


-cpacfa

George said...

Hi there,

First, love the blog; Second I am an under grad (finance) graduate working in Cost accounting in a Manufacturing Company...don't ask lol
The only expereience I have is in this field which I've been doing for almost a year. My long-term goal is to do the CFA and join a big 4 consulting/Auditing Firm. However, my friend suggested i should go for the CPA instead coz that's what i'm currently doing (Costing/Accounting) but i'm really not into accounting, I love Finance. So 1) what r the possibilities for my future, and 2) for time's sake, can I just do an MA in Finance then after my career switch do the CFA ? Thanks a lot n will keep in touch.

Amit Gupta said...

Hi

i am doing CA at my final stage just about to complete, i wanna know whether i have to do CFA or CPA or MBA?
i am little confuse about which course i have to chosen, so please suggest me on this.

thanks buddy

Amit
amtr2546@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

hii everyone ...
i am pursuing icsa uk professional course ...its chartered screcretary course ...more in compliances ...but i really am not sure about my job prospects ..so i am thinking to enroll for cpa certification..plz help guys ...m i eligible to enrol ..and all ..

raza wala said...

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I am not in favor of this new exam pattern.Its totally an injustice to the regional board aspirants.Its a well known fact that CBSE's marking system is comparatively easier than other regional boards.So,definitely CBSE candidates will score more in ISEET
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