MBA or CFA? Which Should You Get?

Published: 25th March 2009
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Traditionally, the MBA has been the gold standard of business degrees. Recently, however there has been a growing trend and demand in the workplace for those with a CFA designation. Many people are faced with the confusing decision to do one, the other or possibly both. But what's the best choice? What does each one get you and is it worth pursuing both the MBA and CFA, in a combined or separate program? After reading this article you should have a much clearer idea as to the answer to these questions.
Advantages Of The MBA



The MBA or Masters of Business Administration is the traditional educational path into many finance and corporate fields. Whether investment banking, trading, consulting or corporate development, for decades the top business schools have been training the workforce for the world's leading corporation. There is a reason for this. Top MBA programs have traditionally offered a quality, broad exposure to the various areas of business while offering a chance to 'concentrate' in a targeted career path during the second year. Top schools attract leading business leaders, offer impressive internship and networking opportunities and perhaps best of all, offer direct recruiting directly by top firms in all areas of finance and corporate opportunity.

The broad exposure to various areas of business including finance, marketing, capital markets, business development and others is the strength of the MBA. Students receive a great 'big picture' overview of all the key ingredients that make businesses successful. At the same time, they receive more 'specialized' study in a particular area of concentration to prepare them for the particular career field/track they intend to pursue after graduation. The generalized nature of the MBA provides a great platform of knowledge that the student will be able to pull from his entire career.
Advantages Of The CFA

The CFA or Chartered Financial Analyst is a much more specialized degree compared to the MBA. The CFA prepares the student to pursue certain careers as an investment professional. Most often these are in the fields of portfolio management, investment research, advisory services and investment banking. The CFA designation is obtained by passing a series of three difficult examinations and is generally regarded as a more intense education in investment principles and techniques than the typical MBA. While it is possible for an MBA candidate to achieve such training if his 'concentration' is in investments, with a CFA an employer can be assured that the candidate has the most rigorous training available in this specialized skill set.

While this specialization can be an asset in certain job categories, the CFA does not give the broad based business education that the MBA offers. Those looking to work in business development, marketing or areas that are not 'investment or portfolio' emphasis might not need the intense but narrow CFA education. However, as more and more people obtain the MBA and as it becomes less "unique" of a degree, obtaining the CFA has become a way for serious students to 'set themselves above' the crowd.
MBA, CFA or Both

The decision on whether to pursue the MBA, CFA or both depends on the individual students goals and the career plans they have. While the Masters of Business Administration offers a terrific broad education in business, the Chartered Financial Analyst offers the specialized skill set that targeted investment careers desire. Certain companies now consider the CFA designation as a more powerful education when it comes to portfolio and wealth management as well as investment analysis.



For the truly ambitious that want to set themselves above their peers, pursuing both the MBA and the CFA might be the answer. As time moves on, specialization is increasingly the key to succeeding in the competitive workplace. The MBA and CFA provide the serious career-minded with the tools to set themselves apart and gain the advantage in the corporate world. For more information about the MBA and CFA please visit www.TopTenMBA.com


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