What Distinction is Better - CFA®, MBA, or CAIA?

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

Should I Get A CFA®, An MBA, or a CAIA?

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

What is the CFA® Certification?

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

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

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

What is a CFA® 's Salary?

While the earnings power of the CFA® distinction will depend on your position, the corporate finance institute offer a guide of the average earnings of CFA® holders.

You can read more on the Corporate Finance Institute website.

What is the CAIA Designation?

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

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

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

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

What is an MBA?

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

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

MBA vs. CFA® vs. CAIA Exams

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

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

What Career Do You Want to Pursue?

One obvious difference between the CFA® program and an MBA program is the breadth of the curriculum. A good analogy is that the curriculum of the CFA® program is a foot wide and a mile deep while the curriculum of MBA programs are a mile wide and a foot deep.

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

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

How Much Do the CFA® , CAIA, and MBA Cost?

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

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

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

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

How Long Does it Take to Get the CFA® , CAIA, or MBA?

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

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

Net Present Value of Certifications

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

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

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

Do You Want To Do Self-Study vs. The Classroom?

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

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

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

Choosing a Certification to Pursue

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

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

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

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monty09:
1. cfa -your in less then 15% if you finish in three years(may be wrong but i know its very low) 2. mba - if you go to a top school your make more then 100k 3. caia - only helps if your in that market already
It's actually lower. The statistical odds of passing all three on your first try are roughly 4%. The realistic number I heard is around 10% of people pass in a straight shot. Anyone that downplays the long-term career benefits of the CFA is an idiot. That said, I would still like a Top MBA over the CFA, but why not have both?
My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.
 

I'd add that most of the buy-side PMs I've met are a CFA charterholder, so it definitely is important to go from the 300k to 500k+ earning range and move up the ladder.

That said, I've also met CFAs earning 50k as low-level analysts or working as journalists (some of the SeekingAlpha editors have CFAs and they make about 50k).

IMO: If you want to move up in MF/HF/PE world, a CFA will get you to the top, and passing level 1 or 2 may help you break in (but not by itself, you'll need a special background if you aren't coming in from IB-land). No one cares about MBAs on the sell side or buy side.

Also--I hadn't even heard of CAIA before today, so that should tell you something.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Brady4MVP:
ERGOHOC:
MBA from top B-School trumps all. Even if you're not going into finance afterwards, a top b-school in your resume will get you "anywhere"

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

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

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

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

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

'Look at the big things while they are still small...'
 
Drawrof:
Well, in capital budgeting, you need to account for opportunity costs (economic perspective)... You can't just account for tuitions fees.

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

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

 
Best Response

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

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

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

more quality credentials help you out - PERIOD

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

 
jknasse2:

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

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

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

 
OnGBanker:
jknasse2 wrote:
in this economy you need anything that can give you an edge - everybody here who says a CFA doesn't matter doesn't have one
if you have the choice of drinking beer every weekend with the boys or studying for the CFA and getting it - go get it - it can only make you more competitive - i have 23 months qualifiable experience but got laid off - im taking the exams while working at a job that doesn't qualify towards the experience.

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

This argument has always seems very weak to me. You can't network every day, people don't want to drink on Mondays, and you will run out of relevant people in your sector to speak with (unless you just want anything in IBD, in which case your story will likely have little flow / rationale). I see no reason to not have both.
"After you work on Wall Street it’s a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side.” - David Tepper
 

Really depends on what you want to do -

Accounting? CPA

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Good luck!

Betsy Massar Come see me at my Q&A thread http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-w-betsy-massar-of-master-admissions Ask away!
 

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

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

Is this even a question?

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

or

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

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

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

 
DickFuld:

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

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

 

you wanted to go to NYC / Chicago right?

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

 
datguy345:

Just got promoted today to a decent position that may help me break into Asset Management at my current asset management firm. I have cake hours, low stress and a raise. With all of this time, I need something else to do with my time...

1. MBA - I am in a midwest city (not chicago ), and my company will pay 90% of my MBA costs. Also, since my company is a large Asset Management, if I can break into the asset management side, id stay for life. This is probably my least preferred option, but my most achievable. I spoke with someone from the Asset Management division today, and I was told that they may hire internally for post MBA positions. Plus there is no way on God's green earth that I can afford a top MBA on my own.

2. CFA - The most sensible and cheapest, but honestly, I doubt my ability to actually complete the program. Plus very few make it through all 3 levels.

3. Nothing - Work like a dog, network, save and try to get to NYC or Chicago and find a job there in 1-2 years.

Looking at PWM (most sensible and achievable), or AM (if i stay with my current company)

I already have about 2 years of FT WE, and a shitton of debt that I need pay back.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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