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Morning monkeys,

Like many of you on WSO, I'm studying for yet another CFA exam (level 2, yay?) and as I'm shaking off the cobwebs in my brain I find myself wondering: is this the best designation? The answer is simple: no. But that's simply because there is no "best" designation, but there are "useful" designations which is what this list will hope to capture. That being said, is the CFA charter a particularly useful designation? Yes and no. It's well regarded in many areas of finance and business, but that's about it. There are many aspects of a designation that need to be considered when determining how useful it is, for example: Can it get me a job? Can it get me promoted? Can official documents be signed by someone without said designation? Getting your CFA charter will probably help with the first, almost certainly with the second, but not with the third. These are always things to consider when pursuing a designation.

Now, some ground rules, we'll limit ourselves to the job functions on WSO. Sorry JD & MD, you won't be considered. However, graduate level degree programs will, but only in the broadest sense (i.e. only "MBA" will be considered, which means both "University of Phoenix MBA" and "Wharton MBA" are in that category). Naturally, everyone's rankings will vary depending on their background and career preferences, so feel free to list your own!

On to the ranking!

10) Ph.D. - Sorry doctorate, but since my own set of rules require ambiguity within a degree program, the rather useful mathematics sub disciplines are getting lopped in with the psychologists. That being said, if you're getting a Ph.D. in economics, finance, applied mathematics, pure mathematics, physics, statistics, or really anything technical, you can probably lever that into a good job. If you're really set on that Ph.D. in medieval literature, apply for SNAP now.

9) CFP - Some may balk at the inclusion of the Certified Financial Planner designation in this list, but it's use shouldn't be discounted too quickly. Will it get you that coveted FO IBD role you've always dreamed about? Probably not, but someone has to sell financial products on the retail side, and those people oftentimes have CFP designations, making it not entirely useless for getting into finance.

8) CIIA - The Certified International Investment Analyst may be less known to many on WSO, but it is sometimes described as the European version of the CFA charter. To many of you, this may seem ridiculous since the CFA charter is a global designation, and you'd be right. The CIIA will always be in the CFA charter's shadow, which is what holds it back in the rear of the top 10.

7) CAIA - The Chartered Alternative Investments Analyst should probably be higher, but due to it's fairly limited scope, it's usefulness is not terribly high. Over time, especially with some of the effects of Dodd-Frank pushing insurers and banks into alternative assets in search of yield, it's poised to become more useful in the future.

6) FRM - In my opinion, the Financial Risk Manager is a real up and coming designation. I'm beginning to see this more and more on job postings alongside the MBA and the CFA charter. Good company to hold for any designation. The FRM still has to go through some growing pains, as it's only been around since 1997, but it's looking to be a promising designation going forward.

5) MFin - The MFin is a regular favorite among many here on WSO, but the reason it's not ranked higher is due to its limited value on the job market. Its usefulness appears to be limited to correcting a bad undergrad GPA, in order to enter into more competitive programs, namely target MBAs. Beyond that, it's utility seems limited, which is why it's ranked #5 as opposed to #4 or #3. Many will disagree with me here.

4) ASA/FSA - Some will question this ranking, but I've included the two actuarial designations that qualify for membership in the academy for one particular reason: legal protection. The only people who can sign actuarial memoranda, among other official documents in the insurance industry must be members of the American Academy of Actuaries. Having legal protection for your designation is incredibly useful for job security, as well as for getting a job. While the actuarial world is moderately shrinking, particularly within life and pensions, health is on the increase, and the SOA has recently expanded their program to include quantitative finance and enterprise risk management. Both very useful to the world of finance.

3) MBA - The MBA is the single most useful degree for finance. If we limited this to "Target MBAs" it would be ranked higher, possibly #1. But, since we're attempting to be as general as possible, the MBA suffers because of its commoditization over the past few decades. The real value with an MBA comes from the vast networking opportunity the degree program offers, which suggests that online MBAs and University of Phoenix MBAs are completely useless, as you can't benefit from this inherent value. This is the only reason that the MBA is ranked where it is and not higher.

2) CFA - I'm probably being something of a homer here, as the reality is that a target MBA will get you into a Wall St. firm much faster than the CFA charter will. However, the CFA charter is highly regarded and while it may not get you into the Wall St. firm of your choice, it'll set your resume apart from your competition. But, it's not a golden ticket by any stretch of the imagination. From what I understand, the CFA charter's usefulness is found with those who are already on Wall St. It's value is well understood and will probably help you get promoted depending on your job function. Additionally, for those trying to transition into finance, it's rigorous program will give you the academic background that is absolutely required for many positions.

1) CPA - Okay, don't laugh, but the CPA absolutely deserves to be in the #1 slot. Sure, accounting is boring, and yeah, some CPAs are a little weird, but there's tremendous value with this designation. The CPA is legally protected up the wazoo, the number of documents that have to be signed by a CPA are legion. Additionally, the number of financial firms that employ or contract a CPA is pretty damn close to 100%. Getting it isn't easy either, you need 150 hours of study or a master's degree (unless you're in California who has a different rule) and then there's a bunch of tests that must be completed in a set time frame. Will you enjoy the work as a CPA? Maybe not, but that doesn't take away from it's usefulness. The world will always require CPAs and having the designation will provide both job security and a leg up on the competition.

What do you monkey's think? What are your top 10?

3

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Comments (67)

  • inkybinky's picture

    I don't like your criteria. The question shouldn't just be whether it can get you a job, but how good that job will be along with its long-term potential. The CPA is so useless in the long-term that many (even accounting professionals) stop paying their dues and allow it to lapse.

    And a JD should be considered as law is very relevant to investments. Lloyd Blankfein, for example, has a JD.

  • capitano13's picture

    mike, I know this list is your personal opinion and I see you've stated that "target MBAs" are pretty damn useful. You have some insightful explanations in regards to the placement of these degree in your rankings and you're absolutely correct in saying that the world will always require CPAs.

    Having said that, I would rather take a top-25 MBA over a CPA because 1) I hate accounting, 2) I never want to work in accounting, and 3) I hate accounting. Sure, accounting is the "language of finance," but as a finance major, I can't stand it for some reason. I'm assuming that the majority of people who post on this website would rank an MBA/CFA/MSF higher than a CPA.

    Side-note: Even though I'd never get an online MBA, you'd be surprised what an online MBA can do. A guy who works in my Mom's lab (a respected clinical lab) earned an online MBA, worked hard, and got promoted to a supervisor position. He now makes close to $80k before bonus/OT. I don't expect him to get promoted to CFO anytime soon, but that's not bad for an online MBA.

  • FrankD'anconia's picture

    Great list. Just one thing about the CPA. It's very useful IF accounting is what you want to do. Completely agree with the job security part. Accountants will always be needed and until the field gets infected by the prestige bug- anyone can do it. That being said, considering this is WallStreetOasis.com and not Big4Oasis.com, I question it's spot at #1. As I'm sure you know as a CFA candidate, that program more than covers the accounting you need to know from a finance perspective in FRA. Just my $.02

  • PoissonProcess's picture

    Could you comment more on the relative value of CPA for someone who wants to work in finance but not as an accountant. Say one has completed the accounting hours and has the opportunity to sit the CPA in his state, would that be worth much in an IBD environment or a fund (mf, pe, or hf) environment? Perhaps compared to the CFA, which you have at #2.

    "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." -- Y.B.

  • In reply to FrankD'anconia
    DChedge's picture

    FrankD'anconia:
    Great list. Just one thing about the CPA. It's very useful IF accounting is what you want to do. Completely agree with the job security part. Accountants will always be needed and until the field gets infected by the prestige bug- anyone can do it. That being said, considering this is WallStreetOasis .com and not Big4Oasis .com, I question it's spot at #1. As I'm sure you know as a CFA candidate, that program more than covers the accounting you need to know from a finance perspective in FRA. Just my $.02

    Agree with this. Kind of S&T specific, but the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) exam is up and coming and is actually useful if you are looking at markets. Even if it doesn't help you get a job it adds a different way of looking at things and might even help your PA.

  • In reply to wallstreet_sniper
    calikid3820's picture

    wallstreet_sniper:
    CFA > CPA

    Just because this is a Finance dominated forum doesn't make this statement true. The CPA is more widely known than the CFA and can be seen as a value added designation across a broader number of functions/industries/companies/etc.

    Asset Management is the only place that the CFA is commonplace and is borderline required... Even browsing monster/indeed i see more preferred qualifications that say CPA than CFA... even for finance jobs.

    Not saying CPA is #1 just saying its fair to be ahead of the CFA

  • In reply to PoissonProcess
    mikesswimn's picture

    PoissonProcess:
    Could you comment more on the relative value of CPA for someone who wants to work in finance but not as an accountant. Say one has completed the accounting hours and has the opportunity to sit the CPA in his state, would that be worth much in an IBD environment or a fund (mf, pe, or hf) environment? Perhaps compared to the CFA, which you have at #2.

    If you're interestd in working in IBD/PE/HF I would be surprised if the CPA offered much value. The only reason I ranked it #1 is because my scope is fairly broad, and with that in mind, it's tough to deny the incredible value that the CPA has built over the years. It's only downside is that you have to be an accountant :).

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • yeahright's picture

    This definitely depends on your personal background and personal goals even within the WSO-niche.

    However, I agree that in a general sense this is somewhat accurate.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • ThetaHedge's picture

    I just wanted to add that the CFA designation is most useful when combined with networking. On its own, it's not going to do anything to get you a job. I know quite a few CFA holders in back office positions that lack the proper soft skills and network to get them where they want to go.

  • In reply to mikesswimn
    calikid3820's picture

    mikesswimn:
    PoissonProcess:
    Could you comment more on the relative value of CPA for someone who wants to work in finance but not as an accountant. Say one has completed the accounting hours and has the opportunity to sit the CPA in his state, would that be worth much in an IBD environment or a fund (mf, pe, or hf) environment? Perhaps compared to the CFA, which you have at #2.

    If you're interestd in working in IBD/PE/HF I would be surprised if the CPA offered much value. The only reason I ranked it #1 is because my scope is fairly broad, and with that in mind, it's tough to deny the incredible value that the CPA has built over the years. It's only downside is that you have to be an accountant :).

    I would agree... Though it does add SOME value.. just not much.. I have been told that "it wont get you the job or be a differentiator, but it also isn't a harmful or a bad thing".. I am slightly biased as I am taking the CPA and at this point opted out of doing the CFA

    I also agree that it adds the MOST value as an auditor/accountant

  • In reply to calikid3820
    inkybinky's picture

    calikid3820:
    wallstreet_sniper:
    CFA > CPA

    Just because this is a Finance dominated forum doesn't make this statement true. The CPA is more widely known than the CFA and can be seen as a value added designation across a broader number of functions/industries/companies/etc.

    Asset Management is the only place that the CFA is commonplace and is borderline required... Even browsing monster/indeed i see more preferred qualifications that say CPA than CFA... even for finance jobs.

    Not saying CPA is #1 just saying its fair to be ahead of the CFA


    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    You have to look at the overall supply and demand of the respective industries. A lot more jobs list CPA, but there are also about 6 times as many CPAs as CFA Charterholders in the US. The fact that both designations enjoy similarly low unemployment rates suggests that the demand for CPAs does not outstrip supply any more than it does for CFAs (and since the latter are better paid, the opposite may be true).

    The OP addressed "usefulness". I suppose the CPA is more useful as far as mobility goes. But the CFA goes further as far as the quality of jobs available.

  • HOVA's picture

    Ask anyone who has taken the CPA exam before, it's not difficult at all and it barely teaches you anything you haven't already learned in school. On top of that they also throw in stuff about government accounting and "economics" and "technology" that are all covered at such a high level you forget it all as soon as you step outside the testing center.

    All in all the CPA is more of a mechanism to filter people out who aren't necessarily good test takers. Much more is learned on the job than through a test, but that's well known and has been discussed ad nasuem.

  • In reply to inkybinky
    calikid3820's picture

    inkybinky][quote=calikid3820:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    You have to look at the overall supply and demand of the respective industries. A lot more jobs list CPA, but there are also about 6 times as many CPAs as CFA Charterholders in the US. The fact that both designations enjoy similarly low unemployment rates suggests that the demand for CPAs does not outstrip supply any more than it does for CFAs (and since the latter are better paid, the opposite may be true).

    The OP addressed "usefulness". I suppose the CPA is more useful as far as mobility goes. But the CFA goes further as far as the quality of jobs available.

    The "quality" of the jobs though is completely subjective dependent upon a persons interest, and also don't forget there are more CEOs and CFOs who started as Big 4 Auditors with CPAs then there are CEOs or CFOs with CFAs from AM/HF/etc.

    But back to the essential point of the post... Yes the CPA is more useful than the CFA

    HOVA:
    Ask anyone who has taken the CPA exam before, it's not difficult at all and it barely teaches you anything you haven't already learned in school. On top of that they also throw in stuff about government accounting and "economics" and "technology" that are all covered at such a high level you forget it all as soon as you step outside the testing center.

    All in all the CPA is more of a mechanism to filter people out who aren't necessarily good test takers. Much more is learned on the job than through a test, but that's well known and has been discussed ad nasuem.

    Agreed.... I work in Finance and passed FAR and BEC in the fall

  • adapt or die's picture

    Dude, MFin below that actuarial bullshit?! Tell that to the guys from the MIT and Princeton programs.

  • Monkey in Acquisitions's picture

    Don't see the CHP (Certified Hedge Fund Professional) on this list, but didn't expect that.
    Could anyone (esp. if you actually work at a hedge fund) give some comment on its presence/reputation in the (job) market. In case you took it: How hard was it and how useful did it turn out to be?
    http://hedgefundcertification.com/

    Thanks

  • In reply to calikid3820
    inkybinky's picture

    calikid3820][quote=inkybinky:
    calikid3820:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    You have to look at the overall supply and demand of the respective industries. A lot more jobs list CPA, but there are also about 6 times as many CPAs as CFA Charterholders in the US. The fact that both designations enjoy similarly low unemployment rates suggests that the demand for CPAs does not outstrip supply any more than it does for CFAs (and since the latter are better paid, the opposite may be true).

    The OP addressed "usefulness". I suppose the CPA is more useful as far as mobility goes. But the CFA goes further as far as the quality of jobs available.

    The "quality" of the jobs though is completely subjective dependent upon a persons interest, and also don't forget there are more CEOs and CFOs who started as Big 4 Auditors with CPAs then there are CEOs or CFOs with CFAs from AM/HF/etc.

    But back to the essential point of the post... Yes the CPA is more useful than the CFA


    By "quality" I'm referring to pay and prestige (though it could obviously be measured in a number of ways). To say that the CPA is "more useful than the CFA", you have to define "useful". If you mean quantity of jobs available in the market (not your odds of getting said job, since the quantity of CPAs is also higher), then the CPA is more useful. If you mean the quality of jobs (as I defined quality) that it opens you up to, then the CFA is more useful.

    And it's pretty unsurprising that more CEO's/CFO's would have a CPA license over the Charter. There are, after all, about 6 times as many CPAs in the US. Not to mention the fact that most CFA Charterholders enter into a position on the CIO (investment, not information)-track.

  • In reply to inkybinky
    accountingbyday's picture

    inkybinky:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    That's clearly an opinion. My CPA has helped me get a role in Business Valuation/Corp Fin Consulting and now in Operations at a F500. There's a VERY good chance that my next role is in Business Development. The CPA has DEFINITELY gotten me into some interesting role.

    I did 1 year of audit at Big 4 (which sucked) and haven't done audit or explicit "accounting" role since.

  • In reply to accountingbyday
    inkybinky's picture

    accountingbyday:
    inkybinky:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    That's clearly an opinion. My CPA has helped me get a role in Business Valuation/Corp Fin Consulting and now in Operations at a F500. There's a VERY good chance that my next role is in Business Development. The CPA has DEFINITELY gotten me into some interesting role.

    I did 1 year of audit at Big 4 (which sucked) and haven't done audit or explicit "accounting" role since.


    It's not an opinion. It's either true or it's not.

    A CPA isn't even relevant to business valuation/financial consulting (public accountants don't try to estimate future cash flows and discount rates). It might help you insofar as you don't look like a screw up, but it's not relevant at all to the job unless you were doing compliance consulting/auditing. A CFA Charter would be far better suited to that type of job and, if the hiring manager were compentent, would choose a Charterholder over a CPA, all other things equal.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    mikesswimn's picture

    adapt or die:
    Dude, MFin below that actuarial bullshit?! Tell that to the guys from the MIT and Princeton programs.

    Dude, those are only two out of hundreds of MFin programs you can go through. Hell, they're probably the best two on the planet. So, sure, you're right, the two best MFin programs in the world are more useful than the ASA/FSA. You're extremely insightful.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In reply to mikesswimn
    calikid3820's picture

    mikesswimn:
    adapt or die:
    Dude, MFin below that actuarial bullshit?! Tell that to the guys from the MIT and Princeton programs.

    Dude, those are only two out of hundreds of MFin programs you can go through. Hell, they're probably the best two on the planet. So, sure, you're right, the two best MFin programs in the world are more useful than the ASA/FSA. You're extremely insightful.

    This goes to the same thing as a CPA vs CFA... Usefulness... and the ASA/FSA is only useful to be an actuary... very niche and ONLY! useful in that niche

    I would say MFin would be above it

  • In reply to mikesswimn
    adapt or die's picture

    mikesswimn:
    adapt or die:
    Dude, MFin below that actuarial bullshit?! Tell that to the guys from the MIT and Princeton programs.

    Dude, those are only two out of hundreds of MFin programs you can go through. Hell, they're probably the best two on the planet. So, sure, you're right, the two best MFin programs in the world are more useful than the ASA/FSA. You're extremely insightful.

    Haha, I was waiting for some actuarial jockey to tweak out on that post

  • In reply to adapt or die
    mikesswimn's picture

    adapt or die:
    mikesswimn:
    adapt or die:
    Dude, MFin below that actuarial bullshit?! Tell that to the guys from the MIT and Princeton programs.

    Dude, those are only two out of hundreds of MFin programs you can go through. Hell, they're probably the best two on the planet. So, sure, you're right, the two best MFin programs in the world are more useful than the ASA/FSA. You're extremely insightful.

    Haha, I was waiting for some actuarial jockey to tweak out on that post

    HA! Damnit, nice one, +1 :)

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In reply to inkybinky
    Wasserstag526's picture

    inkybinky:
    accountingbyday:
    inkybinky:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    That's clearly an opinion. My CPA has helped me get a role in Business Valuation/Corp Fin Consulting and now in Operations at a F500. There's a VERY good chance that my next role is in Business Development. The CPA has DEFINITELY gotten me into some interesting role.

    I did 1 year of audit at Big 4 (which sucked) and haven't done audit or explicit "accounting" role since.


    It's not an opinion. It's either true or it's not.

    A CPA isn't even relevant to business valuation/financial consulting (public accountants don't try to estimate future cash flows and discount rates). It might help you insofar as you don't look like a screw up, but it's not relevant at all to the job unless you were doing compliance consulting/auditing. A CFA Charter would be far better suited to that type of job and, if the hiring manager were compentent, would choose a Charterholder over a CPA, all other things equal.

    Lol the CPA is def relevant to BV. There are a ton of CPAs in the BV industry.

    'We're bigger than U.S. Steel"

  • OilseedsTrader's picture

    in canada bankers usually tend to prefer people with an accounting background than finance...

    Don't give up what you want most for what you want now

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    I've hired a couple of people with a Financial Engineering degree at Columbia (1 undergrad and 1 grad)...I was pretty impressed with their technical skills.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • In reply to Wasserstag526
    inkybinky's picture

    Wasserstag526:
    inkybinky:
    accountingbyday:
    inkybinky:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    That's clearly an opinion. My CPA has helped me get a role in Business Valuation/Corp Fin Consulting and now in Operations at a F500. There's a VERY good chance that my next role is in Business Development. The CPA has DEFINITELY gotten me into some interesting role.

    I did 1 year of audit at Big 4 (which sucked) and haven't done audit or explicit "accounting" role since.


    It's not an opinion. It's either true or it's not.

    A CPA isn't even relevant to business valuation/financial consulting (public accountants don't try to estimate future cash flows and discount rates). It might help you insofar as you don't look like a screw up, but it's not relevant at all to the job unless you were doing compliance consulting/auditing. A CFA Charter would be far better suited to that type of job and, if the hiring manager were compentent, would choose a Charterholder over a CPA, all other things equal.

    Lol the CPA is def relevant to BV. There are a ton of CPAs in the BV industry.


    There are "a ton" of philosophy majors in IBD. It doesn't mean that it's relevant. BEC would be the test that comes closest to valuation and it is still far away and very superficial. Are you going to value a company based on its tax compliance? Or maybe its accounting net income? Lol...
  • In reply to inkybinky
    calikid3820's picture

    inkybinky:
    Wasserstag526:
    inkybinky:
    accountingbyday:
    inkybinky:

    Not necessarily. Although a CPA license might get you into a position in a wider number of industries, your function in those industries (if hired for your CPA) is going to be as narrow or even more narrow than functions where the CFA adds value.

    That's clearly an opinion. My CPA has helped me get a role in Business Valuation/Corp Fin Consulting and now in Operations at a F500. There's a VERY good chance that my next role is in Business Development. The CPA has DEFINITELY gotten me into some interesting role.

    I did 1 year of audit at Big 4 (which sucked) and haven't done audit or explicit "accounting" role since.


    It's not an opinion. It's either true or it's not.

    A CPA isn't even relevant to business valuation/financial consulting (public accountants don't try to estimate future cash flows and discount rates). It might help you insofar as you don't look like a screw up, but it's not relevant at all to the job unless you were doing compliance consulting/auditing. A CFA Charter would be far better suited to that type of job and, if the hiring manager were compentent, would choose a Charterholder over a CPA, all other things equal.

    Lol the CPA is def relevant to BV. There are a ton of CPAs in the BV industry.


    There are "a ton" of philosophy majors in IBD. It doesn't mean that it's relevant. BEC would be the test that comes closest to valuation and it is still far away and very superficial. Are you going to value a company based on its tax compliance? Or maybe its accounting net income? Lol...

    Lol... I took and passed BEC and can tell that it was a ton of IT/MIS/Internal Audit with some cost accounting thrown in, so minimal useful info there.. I also got the shaft on my test because I am stronger in the finance topics than in internal audit, etc.

  • overpaid_overworked's picture

    I've got a CFA and MBA, but if I could go back to undergrad, I'd redo and get a double major in accounting/finance, then article to get the Chartered Accountant status. Yeah it puts you in a shity role for four years, but makes rockstars from geeks.

  • Anarchyz11's picture

    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    At the very least, a CPA can get you an H&R Block gig, or something like a full charge bookkeeper, and that's only if you're really out of luck. The CFA just isn't as universal. The CPA can help in public accounting, tax, even corporate finance. If you search CFO positions on monster, you get 90% of positions requiring a CPA with no mention of a CFA. (That's a lot of acronyms with similar letters)

    If you're only goal in life is to go into IB, the CFA is better because it's more relevant, not necessarily because it's more powerful or useful. Keep in mind CPAs can break the $100k barrier 5-6 years out of college too, and in the grand scheme of life, and a normal 40 year career, that's not a lot longer.

  • missing's picture

    I was wondering where you'd place the Professional Risk Manager (PRM) relative to the FRM designation? I wonder because I looked at both and the curricala seem comparable (the PRM seems to lead in academic depth while the FRM content seems to be updated more often, so the it's probably more recent). I'm asking because I'm somewhat leaning towards taking the PRM because the format and philosophy seems more appealing to me, but I noticed that the FRM seems to much better known. Any comments?

  • overpaid_overworked's picture

    I'm of the opinion that CFA is less crucial for a banking job, frankly, once you're in IBD you should be able to move up the ladder with hard work and OTJ training/experience. CFA isn't a prerequisite for ER or Buy Side, but it might move that way. Personally, until they decrease the weighting on portfolio management in Level III I'm a little bit of a hater.

    Also, if i were to start a buisness, forming a designation is a great one: 120,000 people write in June, 20,000 in December = 140,000/year at $700ish (average, L2 and L3 were less than L1) $98 million, PLUS membership dues. That's some nice top line revenue.

  • In reply to Anarchyz11
    rufiolove's picture

    Anarchyz11:
    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    At the very least, a CPA can get you an H&R Block gig, or something like a full charge bookkeeper, and that's only if you're really out of luck. The CFA just isn't as universal. The CPA can help in public accounting, tax, even corporate finance. If you search CFO positions on monster, you get 90% of positions requiring a CPA with no mention of a CFA. (That's a lot of acronyms with similar letters)

    If you're only goal in life is to go into IB, the CFA is better because it's more relevant, not necessarily because it's more powerful or useful. Keep in mind CPAs can break the $100k barrier 5-6 years out of college too, and in the grand scheme of life, and a normal 40 year career, that's not a lot longer.

    How does your supervisor at the food court hold a CFA charter? You have to have 4 years of work in financial capacity, so how was he able to qualify if he is working at a food court as a manager? Do you just mean he passed all the tests?

  • Commuter's picture

    ^lol.

    This will be amazing

    @JustinDDuBois
    WSO Company Database | Job Board

  • In reply to rufiolove
    inkybinky's picture

    rufiolove:
    Anarchyz11:
    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    At the very least, a CPA can get you an H&R Block gig, or something like a full charge bookkeeper, and that's only if you're really out of luck. The CFA just isn't as universal. The CPA can help in public accounting, tax, even corporate finance. If you search CFO positions on monster, you get 90% of positions requiring a CPA with no mention of a CFA. (That's a lot of acronyms with similar letters)

    If you're only goal in life is to go into IB, the CFA is better because it's more relevant, not necessarily because it's more powerful or useful. Keep in mind CPAs can break the $100k barrier 5-6 years out of college too, and in the grand scheme of life, and a normal 40 year career, that's not a lot longer.

    How does your supervisor at the food court hold a CFA charter? You have to have 4 years of work in financial capacity, so how was he able to qualify if he is working at a food court as a manager? Do you just mean he passed all the tests?


    Not just a financial capacity, but:
    -Evaluating or applying financial, economic, and/or statistical data as part of the investment decision-making process involving securities or similar investments, which includes, but is not limited to, publicly traded and privately placed stocks, bonds, and mortgages and their derivatives; commodity-based derivatives and mutual funds; and other investment assets, such as real estate and commodities, if these other investment assets are held as part of a diversified, securities-oriented investment portfolio; or
    -Supervising, directly or indirectly, persons who practice such activities; or
    -Teaching such activities.

    So working as an auditor or along those lines won't qualify and neither will your internship.

  • D M's picture

    mikesswimn:
    What do you monkey's think? What are your top 10?

    I'm curious, are there any legit business-related certifications available to people without a college degree/work experience?

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • J-CFP's picture

    It's nice to see the CFP given some respect. As far as retail financial services goes, in client facing roles and relationships, this is the designation to have. It provides the foundation for what is relevant in holistic financial planning. The Final Exam is no walk in the park. *Of course I'm a little biased since I have it and put in the 2 years it takes to get it done.

  • WreckEmFinance's picture

    great post. the rankings of course could be switched around based on one's opinion. but generally, great descriptions.

    obviously it all depends on one's situation, desires and goals when it all comes down to it. coming from a "non-target" school and being an older non-traditional student, i have to take my personal situation into account, just as anyone should. that is why I'm doing the CFA upon graduation so I can be working and making real money while studying for CFA.

    I mean I understand this is a wall street oasis- so obviously wall street oriented. so for me to bash that part would be ludicrous. however, being here in the great state of Texas, and from talking to several mentors and professors, it almost not even necessary for me to worry about "making it" to wall street.

    H-town and Dallas have several highly regarded CM, HF, banks and boutique IB's to choose from. To be sure, many of the BB's headquarter their energy outfits in Texas. I'm quite sure I can "make it" in the financial world right here in the best state of Texas. And of course, that could indeed yield opportunities to "make it" to wall street- by way of Texas, if indeed I choose to.

    Phd in finance? In my opinion that's all about the research side and academia. One of my profs was research director as Ibbotson's before Morningstar bought it. Another prof worked for Rob Arnott while doing his Phd.

    So in the end, it really does come down to the individual- what you want to do- and how you want to do it. The buck stops with me, or you- the individual. there's many paths reach a goal. and sometimes the best path for one person to make it to wall street or chicago or london or wherever certainly may be the one least expected. For me, at 27 and just getting my BBA Finance, the CFA is the best next step for me personally, as I see it.

    Texas is booming right now. And sure, the boom will slow down eventually, but Texas is good for business. And good for Finance, obviously. If you want the salary of a wall streeter without the stifling tax consequences on your salary in New York or California- come to Texas! you can always fly to New York for meetings and networking opportunities and various other what have yous

    "Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait."
    -Thomas Edison

  • In reply to Anarchyz11
    BigSwingingDave's picture

    Anarchyz11:
    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    At the very least, a CPA can get you an H&R Block gig, or something like a full charge bookkeeper, and that's only if you're really out of luck. The CFA just isn't as universal. The CPA can help in public accounting, tax, even corporate finance. If you search CFO positions on monster, you get 90% of positions requiring a CPA with no mention of a CFA. (That's a lot of acronyms with similar letters)

    If you have a CFA you better not be looking for many jobs through Monster.com The good ones come from networking. Not saying you won't find any, but that's probably not how you'll find a fulfilling job.

  • In reply to WreckEmFinance
    FrankD'anconia's picture

    WreckEmFinance:

    I mean I understand this is a wall street oasis- so obviously wall street oriented. so for me to bash that part would be ludicrous. however, being here in the great state of Texas, and from talking to several mentors and professors, it almost not even necessary for me to worry about "making it" to wall street.

    H-town and Dallas have several highly regarded CM, HF, banks and boutique IB's to choose from. To be sure, many of the BB's headquarter their energy outfits in Texas. I'm quite sure I can "make it" in the financial world right here in the best state of Texas. And of course, that could indeed yield opportunities to "make it" to wall street- by way of Texas, if indeed I choose to.

    Just to clarify, you do realize when people say "working on wall street" they are refering to working in finance and not necessarily geographically working ON wall street?

  • In reply to FrankD'anconia
    WreckEmFinance's picture

    FrankD'anconia:

    Just to clarify, you do realize when people say "working on wall street" they are refering to working in finance and not necessarily geographically working ON wall street?

    Yes sir. However in my comment I was certainly referring to the exact geographic location. Of course, seeking to juxtapose it against the point you just made in a proud Texan, non-target, WreckEm Tech sort of way. It does seem a lot of the conversation on WSO does actually pertain to the exact geographic location as well. I could be mistaken and if so, mea culpa. I ain't no redneck. Jk, I am a little bit.

    "Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait."
    -Thomas Edison

  • In reply to Anarchyz11
    oreos's picture

    Anarchyz11:
    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    At the very least, a CPA can get you an H&R Block gig, or something like a full charge bookkeeper, and that's only if you're really out of luck. The CFA just isn't as universal. The CPA can help in public accounting, tax, even corporate finance. If you search CFO positions on monster, you get 90% of positions requiring a CPA with no mention of a CFA. (That's a lot of acronyms with similar letters)

    If you're only goal in life is to go into IB, the CFA is better because it's more relevant, not necessarily because it's more powerful or useful. Keep in mind CPAs can break the $100k barrier 5-6 years out of college too, and in the grand scheme of life, and a normal 40 year career, that's not a lot longer.


    Totally agree with this. With CPA / ACA if all else fails, you can retire to a lovely little village somewhere and set up shop; it's not the attitude of a winner, but admirable nonetheless.

    - CFA L3 candidate

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

  • streetwannabe's picture

    In my opinion PhD should definitely be ranked further up. Just my thinking that even if you have no real concrete finance experience, the abstract methods used in quant roles is heavily dependent on a lot of the qualifications of a PhD.
    That is my opinion anyways, just from what I've seen on job boards for the jobs that are in my thoughts the most interesting and important (high paying, prestigious, intelligent, etc.)
    Also, (while not finance related) PhD will open up many other doors in other industries. Also feel that PhD is more important from a broader variety of universities, since it is such a tough degree, only (most likely) the better universities have them.
    DISCLAIMER: I'm referring to Mathematics/Physics/Engineering/Computer Science/Economics PhD. Not Roman Art History (which, even though BA Art History isn't so amazing, PhD in anything is pretty damn tough).

    "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

  • In reply to missing
    mikesswimn's picture

    missing:
    I was wondering where you'd place the Professional Risk Manager (PRM) relative to the FRM designation? I wonder because I looked at both and the curricala seem comparable (the PRM seems to lead in academic depth while the FRM content seems to be updated more often, so the it's probably more recent). I'm asking because I'm somewhat leaning towards taking the PRM because the format and philosophy seems more appealing to me, but I noticed that the FRM seems to much better known. Any comments?

    I'm actually not that familiar with the PRM, but from what I can tell it is very similar to the FRM. I poked around a bit, and it looks like the PRM is a lot more convenient to get because you can take the test at any time you'd like. But, I haven't seen many job postings looking for PRMs. Granted, that's not exactly "evidence" but something to consider.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In reply to D M
    mikesswimn's picture

    D M:
    mikesswimn:
    What do you monkey's think? What are your top 10?

    I'm curious, are there any legit business-related certifications available to people without a college degree/work experience?

    Well, if you don't have a college degree or work experience, then no, there aren't any legit designations. But, I think many of them will allow you to use work experience in lieu of a college degree. That being said, I know some require a degree, namely the CPA, CFA, MBA, MFin, and Ph.D., but I think ASA/FSA can be done without a degree. Not sure about the rest.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In reply to Anarchyz11
    mikesswimn's picture

    Anarchyz11:
    My supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA.

    Your supervisor at the on-campus foodcourt has a CFA charter. Come on man, come on.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In reply to D M
    oreos's picture

    D M:
    mikesswimn:
    What do you monkey's think? What are your top 10?

    I'm curious, are there any legit business-related certifications available to people without a college degree/work experience?


    of course, it's called a college degree.

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

  • overpaid_overworked's picture

    My cab driver from the first night I went drinking on campus during my MBA had an MBA from my school. So that was heartening.

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