Is getting an MBA in a CFA Program Partner business school a good idea?
In researching for this article, I tapped into our team’s collective personal experiences, and also reached out to contacts who also have done both the CFA program and elite MBAs in HBS & INSEAD. If you’re interested in an MBA and/or a CFA charter, and are thinking of how to proceed, make sure you read on!
What you should also know about are CFA Program Partner business schools – schools that incorporate a ‘significant’ amount of the Candidate Book of Knowledge (CBOK) and emphasise the Ethics & Standards of Professional Conduct in their programs.
What would you say about the MBAs offered by B-schools partnering the CFA Institute? In particular:
- What is the value of such a partnership both on the resume and in the office? Could it be a distinguishing criterion?
- Would it be worth taking out the time from the professional domain to do such a full-time course?
- Would it be complementary or contradictory with the CFA qualification?
- What could be the reasons to opt for such partner B-schools over other prestigious non-partner B-schools?
Don’t choose a university SOLELY because it is a partner university with the CFA Institute. This is absolutely not a 2-for-1 qualification – you’re still getting an MBA, not a CFA charter. Being a partner simply means that the finance modules are slightly more compatible with the current CFA syllabus – it doesn’t actually give you any credits nor extra qualifications. The main advantage of a partner school is that it would probably be easier to simultaneously pursue the CFA while at b-school (see the next question).
No transferable credit – You do not get to skip any CFA levels if you’ve completed an MBA program at a CFA-partnered business school.
Whether or not the MBA is worth your time is something you have to figure out for yourself. The 300 Hours team is divided on this. The MBA camp value the MBA for business & project management, as well as networking, whereas the others find it akin to trying to learn swimming in a classroom. Much better to just jump in.
The full CFA charter is useful if you want to go into wealth management, asset management or investment related field. CFA Level I is good to have if all you want is an overview and have less interest in the actual accreditation.
- Don’t choose your business school solely because it is a CFA partner.
- If you’re planning to pursue both an MBA and a CFA charter, a CFA partnered business school could help as the finance modules follow parts of the CFA curriculum.
- Decide whether you want an MBA or a CFA charter, then see it to the end. Or do both. Completing an MBA at a CFA-partnered business school is not likely to give you any additional CFA credentials on your CV.
Assuming the plan is to do both – what would the ideal order be? There has been contradictory advice and cases here. Many peers pursue MBA and take up CFA by their 2nd year, with the vision of completing it later with a job. On the other hand, some advise to clear the CFA levels while gaining the work experience, and then hammer it in with a niche MBA.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for this one. It depends on your personal circumstances, but obviously you have 2 options:
Option 1 – CFA first. If you are currently in a good role, or have a job lined up, in this economic climate we’d strongly advise you to take that experience and work on your CFA charter first. CFA pursuits are much more time and cost efficient compared to MBAs. MBAs are also more effective (i.e. you learn more from them) if you’ve had a few years experience in a professional setting.
Option 2 – MBA first. On the other hand, if you are struggling to land a suitable role, and you’ve been accepted to a good business school, it is quite efficient to study for your MBA and kick-start your CFA charter as well when you’re finishing up your MBA. Be warned though – it is very, very challenging to try and do both at the same time. The CFA program is difficult enough as it is.
If you’re not in a role at the moment, and still undecided, then the best option is to try and get work experience first (i.e. Option 1). In the end, nothing beats good working experience, so it makes sense to try to get a role first. If it doesn’t work out you can then explore options on the MBA side.
Are you currently considering an MBA and/or a CFA charter? Check out our 7 reasons to consider the CFA charter, and let us know what your deciding factors or doubts are via the comments below.