CPA/CFA/MBA Combo

matrotter43's picture
Rank: Chimp | 15

Hi all! I just joined WSO so i am excited to hear your thoughts.

Currently, i am a CPA for a big four firm (1st year SR associate) and started to take the CFA Exam (CFA II Candidate). I recently realized i am much more interested in investments and valuations, hence the pursuit of the CFA exam. As of now, i think i will stay in public accounting for at least two more years so i have experience leading jobs, i think that will be a beneficial experience. I am trying to do a rotation or transition into our valuation department, but that is TBD.

Long story short, I am thinking of going for an MBA with emphasis in finance (Harvard and MIT are right down the street). Do you think an MBA (costs/debt/etc will not be a burden) will be beneficial for a transition into the finance world? I have a bachelors and masters in accounting, but no degrees in finance. Basically, how much value-add will an MBA be for a CPA/CFA whom doesn't have a finance undergraduate degree? I understand a "finance" job is vague, but i believe private equity/venture capital would be pretty interesting.

Please let me know your thoughts, thank you!

Comments (35)

Nov 26, 2017
matrotter43:

Hi all! I just joined WSO so i am excited to hear your thoughts.

Currently, i am a CPA for a big four firm (1st year SR associate) and started to take the CFA Exam (CFA II Candidate). I recently realized i am much more interested in investments and valuations, hence the pursuit of the CFA exam. As of now, i think i will stay in public accounting for at least two more years so i have experience leading jobs, i think that will be a beneficial experience. I am trying to do a rotation or transition into our valuation department, but that is TBD.

Long story short, I am thinking of going for an MBA with emphasis in finance (Harvard and MIT are right down the street). Do you think an MBA (costs/debt/etc will not be a burden) will be beneficial for a transition into the finance world? I have a bachelors and masters in accounting, but no degrees in finance. Basically, how much value-add will an MBA be for a CPA/CFA whom doesn't have a finance undergraduate degree? I understand a "finance" job is vague, but i believe private equity/venture capital would be pretty interesting.

Please let me know your thoughts, thank you!

A degree from HBS will be more valuable than a CPA/CFA.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 26, 2018

An MBA from HBS will cost a lot more than a CPA / CFA:

CFA done right costs c. $3,000. In my opinion, it's close to worthless (source: I have one) and not only will it not get you an interview for positions, like an MBA, but unless you're an investment adviser, or working towards being a PM, you don't use most of what it teaches.

Harvard MBA, probably costs c. $150k, not counting opportunity cost on earnings. That said, you should be able to get a good position with an MBA from HBS, so paying off that debt should be easy, right?

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Jan 26, 2018
overpaid_overworked:

An MBA from HBS will cost a lot more than a CPA / CFA:

CFA done right costs c. $3,000. In my opinion, it's close to worthless (source: I have one) and not only will it not get you an interview for positions, like an MBA, but unless you're an investment adviser, or working towards being a PM, you don't use most of what it teaches.

Harvard MBA, probably costs c. $150k, not counting opportunity cost on earnings. That said, you should be able to get a good position with an MBA from HBS, so paying off that debt should be easy, right?

He said he is looking for a 'transition into finance.'

A CFA charter is not designed for a transition into finance. MBA is better for switching gears.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 26, 2018

The value of the CFA depends on your goals and location. Obviously, it won't be that valuable unless you get into AM but in Canada, it does the trick of getting you an interview.
For some reason, north of the border, MBA = CFA. At least that's my conclusion after scrolling through some Canadian job boards.

"Drill, Baby, Drill" - Sarah Palin

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Nov 30, 2017

to be honest, you're all over the road.
for starters, are you thinking about a full-time or part-time mba? are you familiar with the requisite experience for the CFA designation? when you saying investments and valuations - do you mean PE/VC or securities analysis - very different career paths?

Dec 1, 2017

Yeah I am all over the road, trying to figure this out! I think a full-time makes sense, but honestly not apposed to part-time. I know the five year CFA experience requisite, public accounting at a Big4 firm qualifies, from what I was told from numerous sources. From my research, Venture Capital seems very appealing.

Dec 3, 2017

so sounds like you are not interested in doing securities analysis research so i would not waste time on the CFA.

PE/VC are extremely unlikely coming from an accounting background. plenty of info on here discussing how to break-in.

Jan 23, 2018

I am considering the same certifications, and degree. I wonder how beneficial that particular combination would be?

Jan 25, 2018

Finish CFA (can't hurt, you've got the time), apply to MBA, recruit for IBD, do it for 18-24 months and reassess your career interests/opportunities then -- go.

Best Response
Jan 26, 2018

If I may sir,

The CPA CFA MBA can be represented by the tri-force, a triangular sacred relic that represents the essences of the Golden Goddesses.

CPA = Triforce of Courage, which embodies the essence of Din
CFA = Triforce of Power or Farore
and finally, the MBA = Triforce of Wisdom or Nayru

Once all three have been achieved, the holder of the Triforce allows anyone who touches it to make a wish that lasts until they die or the wish is fulfilled.

Historically, holders have used their wish to run powerful empires (example, Gates, 1975) or hedgefunds (Soros, 1970)

Good luck little cubbie. Good luck.

The title of this thread should be not 'CPA/CFA/MBA Combo', but 'Uniting the Big 3'

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Jan 26, 2018

Legend of Zelda lol

Jan 26, 2018

I need to refill my credits this is pretty great

Jan 29, 2018

Someone really dislikes our like of this comment - here's another comment to throw a credit and some MS, thindick

Jan 26, 2018

oh my fucking god -- coffee straight onto computer screen

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Feb 1, 2018

It's posts like this that give me hope WSO will not go quietly into the night.

Feb 1, 2018
The Stranger:

It's posts like this that give me hope WSO will not go quietly into the night.

Respect.

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Sep 19, 2018

Thumbs up for making the CFA the Triforce of Power lmao

Jan 26, 2018

If PE / VC is what you are looking for, I think your best bet is to network really hard and try to land an investment banking job first and then make the jump to PE/VC. Without cutting your teeth in IB, the probability headhunters will consider you for PE/VC jobs is low, no matter how certified or financially adept you are. It will take some networking and hustling to make the jump to IB from your background, but definitely not impossible. There are good success stories on this site; just search.

A MBA likely won't get you into PE / VC either without IB experience. However, a top 20 MBA is a safe bet to land a good IB job. Do this for 2-3 years and then try for PE/VC after.

As for the CFA, it is not needed for VC / PE. My advice would be to only get one if you are dead set on ER / AM / PM type roles.

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Jan 26, 2018

It would be great to have all three. You can also make it without any of them.

You will get the first look the more of these you have, but if you wan't back them up with substance, they don't really do anything. It would be like if someone made me a trial lawyer right now, I could call myself a lawyer, don't know anything about courts, and probably couldn't add much value.

Also, MBA wise, don't get it unless you get it at a top 7 program. That may seem shallow, and in other industries just saying youre an MBA goes a long way, but in finance it matters.

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Jan 26, 2018

PM me for details. I have a solution for you to get into IBD/PE without going through MBA+CFA. Happy to help. You just need a road map and tweak the nature of your approach. Happy to help.

P.S. Ex-Accountant who was in a CPA route.

Jan 26, 2018

I'm in that position right now and I'm looking to break in, would definitely be interested in hearing your story if you don't mind sharing!

Jan 26, 2018

you won't need CPA/CFA for PE/VC.

"If you're afraid - don't do it, if you're doing it - don't be afraid!"
-- Genghis Khan

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Jan 26, 2018

Try having your firm pay for the MBA. They do that for some people, without clawing back if the recipient leaves. My brother was a Big 4 CPA and hated it. The firm sent him to Stern full time, full ride. He quit as soon as the last tuition check cleared. Went into corp. strategy for a private company.

Jan 26, 2018

Does no one here think having all three designations is overkill, and maybe sends the message of "I have no idea what I want to do, so I'll just study forever"? Granted, anyone reading that resume is going to respect the effort and the aptitude required to do all three. But won't many ask, "Oh God, why??" If you're still very young, the apparent indecision may not be so bad. But if you're older, you might need a good story to explain all those letters behind your name.

I have to believe there's diminishing returns to a third designation. Especially given the $ and opportunity cost of an MBA, I think you should be more certain of why you want one before you pursue it. (B-schools will want to know the answer to this too.) Set a clearer career goal than "PE/VC would be pretty interesting," and then ask yourself if you need the MBA.

Jan 26, 2018

Seems like overkill to me. VC might look down on someone over credentialed as a risks averse person.

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Jan 26, 2018

To be honest, a Big 4 accounting associate isn't getting into Harvard, and is a marginal candidate at M7 schools providing that GPA, GMAT are stellar, along with good extracurriculars.

Keep pursuing the CFA program, and get your ass into transaction services/valuations/corporate finance ASAP.

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Feb 1, 2018

Since you have some time to make your decision. I would recommend looking to see if you're actually interested in PE/VC before you make the pricey plunge into getting a MBA.

Damodaran at NYU teaches free Valuation courses every semester on his website and also has past semesters achieved. http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/ . I'd get through a class and see if equity valuation is still interesting to you. Even though he's more geared toward ER, the fundamentals still apply to PE (can't speak to VC). Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions by Rosenbaum and Pearl is a cheap way to get a sense of how IBing and PE work.

I don't have a MBA however, I have a hard time believing a Harvard or MIT MBA wouldn't be worth the time and effort.

Feb 2, 2018

John Doe, CFA, CPA, MBA, WTF, LOL

Feb 2, 2018

Nobody who went to a reputable MBA program puts it after their name.

Two certifications is not uncommon. More than two is like renting a Ferrari for your reunion because you can't afford to buy one.

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Feb 2, 2018
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Feb 3, 2018