CFA vs MBA track if you are already a CFO

eatlor's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

Before I got dinged for starting a new thread on MBA vs CFA, I'd like to hear your opinion on my personalized situation.

I'm currently 35 years old and working as a CFO for an energy company in the US, making around $200K/year. Prior to becoming a CFO, I mostly spent my time in financial services at big 4 (yes, I'm a CPA). I do have a side hustle whereby I founded a construction company with a friend (an engineer) a couple years ago (I manage the finances). It hasn't made much money yet, but it does have potential. And I dont spend much time on it too (maybe 2-3 hours/week).

I come from an Asian background and would like to return to Asia at one point. Also, I'd like to have a switch in the industry I'm working at (targeting to be CFO of start-up tech co). Unfortunately, given my background, I've been pigeonholed as that "accountant" with expertise on SEC financial statements (and US GAAP in particular) and have been rejected at cfo jobs that need more IB background. I also graduated only from so-so college with summa cum laude, and I've been blessed and worked very hard to be where I'm at today.

Now, having said all those, which route would give me a better option: MBA or CFA? I'm thinking about applying to INSEAD (maybe INSEAD in Asia since living costs is cheaper than Europe) for 10 months. Costs are probably about $100K tuition, and around $15K living. Another option would be Columbia U, but that will take 2 years & higher tuition fees, so higher opportunity costs. Another route will be taking CFA, I think I can finish this in 2.5 years (I finished my CPA exams in 6 months while working full time at my old accounting firm).

Thoughts anyone? And thanks in advance.

All Asia Pacific
All Europe

Comments (4)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 13, 2020

CFA is for hedge funds, portfolio management industry as a whole and equity research. I think the MBA is much more useful for CFO positions from a reputable school in the US. There are like thousands of low level financial analysts in India and China who take the CFA in hopes of becoming a CFO/Investment Banker. Given your background you will be pigeonholed as that "accountant who has a CFA" especially given where you come from. Its fucked up, but the truth. I think re-branding at an M7 would change your world. I totally believe in the CFA though and will be taking it myself but only bc im interested in the PM world. Good luck and take my advice with a grain of salt because Im only just beginning my career!

Mar 14, 2020

You'r the perfect candidate for an EMBA. You're the right age group w/ a salary much higher than the avg full time MBA start. Pick any top EMBA (Wharton, CBS, etc....) and your degree will translate very will if you ever want to move back to Asia. Just focus on degrees that have a strong brand in Asia.

Mar 14, 2020

there's 2 kinds of CFOs: the guy who knows the accounting and can serenely sign off on the annual report and going concern (looks like you fall in that bucket), and the ex PE/IB guy who's doing add on M&A and the more > stuff (the

Mar 14, 2020