Careers

CA Designation obtained - next MBA or CFA?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 6th, 2011 11:49 am
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 24, 2010
14 posts

CA Designation obtained - next MBA or CFA?

Hi all,

I am a newly qualified CA (just got my letters a couple of months ago).

To make a long story short, I've decided that public accounting is not for me, and based on people I've talked to, I don't think I would enjoy working internal audit in the private sector either.

I have started looking at other career options. My career goals are to get into the finance/investment banking or consulting fields. I'm considering the following options:

1. Doing my MBA - based on my research and the people I've talked to - it seems that having my CA means that I'd need to go to a top MBA school in Ontario to make it worth my time (Ivey, Rotman, Queens). From the people I've talked to who have been in these programs, the most important thing is the networking with peers and with the recruiters that takes place at these schools. Since I have a business undergrad, the actual coursework would be somewhat repetitive for me, but I would like to get away from purely numbers and get into more of a management/consulting/finance role going forward. I'm wondering what my odds are of gaining admission with my CA (I've already written my GMAT - 650 which I'm told should be okay) and if people think it would be worthwhile for me to bring about my desired career change? How could I leverage my CA and public accounting experience to make myself standout as an applicant to MBA programs?

2. Doing my CFA - I could leverage this along with my CA to get into the finance related jobs - I find finance more enjoyable. Would it make sense for me to do this designation? Would my background as a CA make me more competitive when applying for these types of jobs?

Right now I'm leaning towards the MBA, since eventually I would like to teach at the university undergrad level, and I feel the MBA would position me best for this.

Any input is greatly appreciated
19 replies
Member
User avatar
Jan 27, 2009
220 posts
35 upvotes
AFTER you went through the entire CA process, you decided it wasn't for you?
I'm here.
Banned
Jul 8, 2009
4006 posts
127 upvotes
lithium_09 wrote: Hi all,

I am a newly qualified CA (just got my letters a couple of months ago).

To make a long story short, I've decided that public accounting is not for me, and based on people I've talked to, I don't think I would enjoy working internal audit in the private sector either.

I have started looking at other career options. My career goals are to get into the finance/investment banking or consulting fields. I'm considering the following options:

1. Doing my MBA - based on my research and the people I've talked to - it seems that having my CA means that I'd need to go to a top MBA school in Ontario to make it worth my time (Ivey, Rotman, Queens). From the people I've talked to who have been in these programs, the most important thing is the networking with peers and with the recruiters that takes place at these schools. Since I have a business undergrad, the actual coursework would be somewhat repetitive for me, but I would like to get away from purely numbers and get into more of a management/consulting/finance role going forward. I'm wondering what my odds are of gaining admission with my CA (I've already written my GMAT - 650 which I'm told should be okay) and if people think it would be worthwhile for me to bring about my desired career change? How could I leverage my CA and public accounting experience to make myself standout as an applicant to MBA programs?

2. Doing my CFA - I could leverage this along with my CA to get into the finance related jobs - I find finance more enjoyable. Would it make sense for me to do this designation? Would my background as a CA make me more competitive when applying for these types of jobs?

Right now I'm leaning towards the MBA, since eventually I would like to teach at the university undergrad level, and I feel the MBA would position me best for this.

Any input is greatly appreciated

I do not know if you are a troll but if you are serious then basically what your saying is making no sense, your not going to be able to get an mba because you have no real management experience yet. Work as a CA for a few years and then you can switch into something else, 5 years down the road a CA can basically get into any job.

Doing your MBA or CFA will not help you get into banking or consulting either AT THIS POINT. For a CA with 5 years experience who does an mba has a decent shot of making it as a i banker or consultant. A CA with no experience has no chance at making either consulting or ibanking because they have no real experience at that point. A CA with 5 years experience can teach accounting at university level. An MBA who wants to teach will either need an excessive amount of industry experience + 10 years in several firms or get a ph.d = mba + phd = 2 years + 5-6 years = 8 years + additional years to find full work that matches your skills and no guarantee of getting into phd program which are far more competitive = 10 years on average to start working.

To be honest, I'd be surprise if you got into a top MBA program with your background. You basically do not even meet the min. requirements of 2-3 years of mgmt experience so how are you going to even get into a good never mind top program? Yes a CA is considered = mba in terms of earning power and career advancement but thats when you have experience not when your starting out.

Your in for a rude rude awakening if you even manage to sneak into a top program then get into ibanking or consulting. The ibanking and consultants are basically going to hire 90% of people who already got into those industries and have 2-3 years experience there. In I banking they hire out of undergrad, 90% of whom are laid off and told tog o get an mba in 2-3 years, 10% are promoted. So now in your mba class you are a CA with no experience who will be trying to compete against real CAs and ibankers with 2-3 years experience. Consulting is basically the exact same thing, to get a promotion they are told to go do an mba and are re-hired. You better be very damn impressive in order to get those jobs because your competing against people with industry experience and you have none as it stands.

Also figure out what you really want to do, you know you do not want to do accoutning but your all over the place, finance/ibanking/consulting/teaching, those are all very different and ime the only people who think this way are people who are very confused and who are just chasing the $$$ so will consider any $$$job.

Also realize that finance is a branch of accounting that was invented by accountants in the 1950s and 60s, so you cannot love finance and hate accounting, theya re the same stuff. If you do a phd in finance you will be taking lots of accounting and vice versa, you should know this.
Newbie
Apr 4, 2011
1 posts
toronto
I may be new here but you should definitely ignore everything jungeon has said. Not only is his post hard to follow but from what I can make of it, most of what he's saying is quite incorrect.

As for the MBA, I've been told by those who have gone the MBA route after just getting their designation that having a CA designation could only help in increasing your chances of getting into one of the top B schools. I know it's not on your list, but you may want to do it at Schulich since they offer a MBA program which can be cut down the time in as little as 8 months if you have a business undergrad degree (to eliminate any redundant courses). In any case, I think that with an MBA what you are essentially paying for is networking and getting your foot into the consulting arena. If you are more concerned with just getting into consulting, assuming you are in a firm, I'd try to transfer outside of audit and into advisory. It'd save you money if that's your goal at the end of the day. Also, you don't necessarily need your MBA unless your aim is to teach at a MBA level. I know of number of people who have got into teaching by first becoming a TA for accounting related courses and after a few years was lucky enough to get an actual teaching position. You'll notice that at most of the commerce programs, the professors generally only had their CAs, some of which had hugely successful careers.

Now, in respect to the CFA, i'd say it's a good start if you plan on getting into finance and working as a iBanker/Analyst/RA (yes, stepping stone for RA). I know quite a few newly designated CAs who made the immediate jump to finance, although they were lucky in finding such a position. I think if this is the route you end up wanting to pursue, you have to make sure that you really love it since the hours itself are worse than audit.
Deal Addict
Jul 28, 2006
1590 posts
359 upvotes
GTA
jungeon wrote: I do not know if you are a troll but if you are serious then basically what your saying is making no sense, your not going to be able to get an mba because you have no real management experience yet. Work as a CA for a few years and then you can switch into something else, 5 years down the road a CA can basically get into any job.

Doing your MBA or CFA will not help you get into banking or consulting either AT THIS POINT. For a CA with 5 years experience who does an mba has a decent shot of making it as a i banker or consultant. A CA with no experience has no chance at making either consulting or ibanking because they have no real experience at that point. A CA with 5 years experience can teach accounting at university level. An MBA who wants to teach will either need an excessive amount of industry experience + 10 years in several firms or get a ph.d = mba + phd = 2 years + 5-6 years = 8 years + additional years to find full work that matches your skills and no guarantee of getting into phd program which are far more competitive = 10 years on average to start working.

To be honest, I'd be surprise if you got into a top MBA program with your background. You basically do not even meet the min. requirements of 2-3 years of mgmt experience so how are you going to even get into a good never mind top program? Yes a CA is considered = mba in terms of earning power and career advancement but thats when you have experience not when your starting out.

Your in for a rude rude awakening if you even manage to sneak into a top program then get into ibanking or consulting. The ibanking and consultants are basically going to hire 90% of people who already got into those industries and have 2-3 years experience there. In I banking they hire out of undergrad, 90% of whom are laid off and told tog o get an mba in 2-3 years, 10% are promoted. So now in your mba class you are a CA with no experience who will be trying to compete against real CAs and ibankers with 2-3 years experience. Consulting is basically the exact same thing, to get a promotion they are told to go do an mba and are re-hired. You better be very damn impressive in order to get those jobs because your competing against people with industry experience and you have none as it stands.

Also figure out what you really want to do, you know you do not want to do accoutning but your all over the place, finance/ibanking/consulting/teaching, those are all very different and ime the only people who think this way are people who are very confused and who are just chasing the $$$ so will consider any $$$job.

Also realize that finance is a branch of accounting that was invented by accountants in the 1950s and 60s, so you cannot love finance and hate accounting, theya re the same stuff. If you do a phd in finance you will be taking lots of accounting and vice versa, you should know this.

I love how you assume he's a troll, then throw out numbers you pulled out of your azz to fuel your largely speculative claims.

First of all, TONS of prospective and successful CA students switch out of accounting after a couple years because they've realized they don't want to spend the rest of their life doing audit, tax, or financial assessments (NTRs/reviews/financial engagements). I spent two years working at a CA firm collecting my hours before I realized it wasn't for me and now I'm heading to a professional program.

You're talking about how
"a CA with 5 years experience who does an mba has a decent shot of making it as a i banker or consultant"
but he's already said he has a business background, meaning he probably has a Bcomm or BBA, which is often enough to get your foot in the door for those jobs. Dozens of my undergrad friends got into I-banking once they graduated simply due to their networking and financial acumen. OP was intelligent enough to finish his CA, yet you think he won't be able to compete with the fresh grads for the same jobs?

You're dishing out some harsh advice backed up with what I believe is incorrect information. I'd love to hear about your career background and work experience to substantiate your advice. Otherwise I'll continue assuming we have another business undergrad in 2nd or 3rd year who hasn't found a real job yet, but still assumes that they'll be golden once they graduate.
Jr. Member
Mar 22, 2009
189 posts
16 upvotes
Waterloo
Ignoring the non-sense comments, I think you need to figure out whether you want IB or finance. Are you looking for FO/MO/BO?

For BO/MO - a CFA would help since it gears you more towards investment research. MBA would help afterwards but isn't really necessary. What industry were you working with primarily? If possible just switch to a F500 finance position.

For FO - You'll need your MBA but I'm assuming you're aiming for an Associate job instead of an Analyst job given that you have prior work-experience (remember in IB Associate > Analyst). I would suggest transferring to TAS in your firm or TAS at another firm (assuming you're at a Big 4) - corporate finance, valuations, or M&A due diligence preferably (in that order). After putting in maybe 1-2 years in TAS do Top-tier MBA. You can also skip TAS but I think you'll have to start as a Analyst even with an MBA (lack of modelling, etc. experience).

What's your end goal? Like accounting, no one stays in IB forever, it's a stepping stone to PE/HF/VC.



Terms:
FO = Front-office (sell-side) = IB
MO = Mid-office = equities research, valuations, analysis, etc.
BO = Back-office (operations) = quant-finance, etc.
TAS = Transaction advisory services
PE = Private equity
HF = Hedge fund
VC = Venture capital
Jr. Member
Mar 22, 2009
189 posts
16 upvotes
Waterloo
MBA isn't a magic bullet but it can help get you into consulting/IB depending on your prior work background (i.e. if you've been auditing oil companies in Calgary, it probably wouldn't be unreasonable to hop to an IB's Energy Sector after an MBA.

Take a look at (Google): (1) Mergers and Inquisitions and (2) Wall Street Oasis.
Deal Addict
Jul 22, 2008
3854 posts
374 upvotes
Consulting (other than TAS) is generally focused on advisory/strategy, which does not seem "in-tune" with your auditing experience as a CA, where as IB/finance would be somewhat more related (equity research associate or I-Banking analyst). MBA is a general 'reset', but again, it's not very impactful if you already have a BComm/BBA (especially the opportunity cost). Also, you will probably realize that admission to a Top 50 MBA program without substantial management experience quite difficult, although as a senior associate, you should have some experience with leading a small audit w/ junior + intermediate CA students.

Overall, a CFA designation would cost less than a MBA from a prestigious program, yet it would provide more "value" (RFD mantra) if you intended on transitioning to IB/Corp finance/valuation...
Jr. Member
Mar 22, 2009
189 posts
16 upvotes
Waterloo
Terrific_Deals2k8 wrote: Consulting (other than TAS) is generally focused on advisory/strategy, which does not seem "in-tune" with your auditing experience as a CA, where as IB/finance would be somewhat more related (equity research associate or I-Banking analyst). MBA is a general 'reset', but again, it's not very impactful if you already have a BComm/BBA (especially the opportunity cost). Also, you will probably realize that admission to a Top 50 MBA program without substantial management experience quite difficult, although as a senior associate, you should have some experience with leading a small audit w/ junior + intermediate CA students.

Overall, a CFA designation would cost less than a MBA from a prestigious program, yet it would provide more "value" (RFD mantra) if you intended on transitioning to IB/Corp finance/valuation...

I agree for the most part but I think the main purpose of an MBA is for the networking.

CFA would be more valuable for corporate finance/valuations but would be less useful for IBD, if any.

I really don't get what the grief about not having "management" experience is about; as a CA you should be able to market yourself since you SHOULD be managing the bulk of the engagement by now with a team of juniors/associates. Not only that, you're leading various teams throughout the year. Yes, you're not a "manager" per your firm, but the manager's job is to review the team's work. You would be the one managing the co-ops/associates, reviewing their work, arranging client meetings, and finalizing everything for the manager.

A bit less familiar with the Canadian MBA stats (I'm looking at US programs more than anything) but most schools don't require you to specifically have "management" experience. They just want good work experience. i.e. UT. http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mba/admis ... m#criteria. You can get in right away after undergrad if you have good co-op terms/internships, volunteering, GPA, etc. We are talking about Canadian MBA programs and not-internationally right? Getting into HBS/Wharton/Stanford are almost impossible without amazing work experience but we're talking about Queens/UT/Schulich which are significantly lower on the global rankings.

Yes, you do have people using the MBA to transition from manager to director who are in their 30s but you also have a lot of people who use MBA to jump into IBD. Or to jump from Analyst to Associate in IBD.


http://www.schulich.yorku.ca/ssb-extra/ ... nformation
"Two years of relevant full-time work or life experience post degree. Two years of relevant work experience following graduation required from applicants with a three year undergraduate degree."

http://business.queensu.ca/mba_programs ... rocess.php
"2. Work Experience
While most candidates possess a minimum of two year’s work experience, we will consider applications from exceptional candidates with less than two year’s experience. Co-op placements and post-doctoral fellowships are also given consideration."


http://www.ivey.uwo.ca/mba/admissions/criteria.htm
"Quality work experience of at least two years, full-time, ensures that you and your classmates will have experiences to contribute to team and class discussions, along with the context and maturity to apply this learning in a professional setting. The Ivey MBA class is comprised of students with a wide range of work and life experiences, where the quality and nature of the work experience is far more critical than length. Demonstrating responsibility, accountability, people, project, or client management skills are some ways to highlight a track record of professional success and achievement in your application."

http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mba/admission.htm
Full-time work experience (minimum two years for the Full-Time MBA and minimum four years preferred for the Morning and Evening MBAs) with a record of
accomplishment in employment. (Note that full-time work experience is not required for the JD/MBA or Skoll programs)


Nowhere do they specifically mention "Management experience". Heck some mention experience after their undergrad.

I'm not saying that "management experience" wouldn't help, but I doubt most candidates are "managers."

http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/ra ... /york.html
"Median age of entering class: 27"

I'm assuming he's at least 25/26 given he has a CA.
Deal Addict
Dec 8, 2008
1848 posts
201 upvotes
GTA
Chatterbox8 wrote: I may be new here but you should definitely ignore everything jungeon has said. Not only is his post hard to follow but from what I can make of it, most of what he's saying is quite incorrect.

+1

Please don't give advice to people if you're not quite sure what you are talking about.
Jr. Member
Mar 22, 2009
189 posts
16 upvotes
Waterloo
How valuable would a CFA be for consulting? Not too familiar with the consulting scene.

OP do you have any industry opportunities? Maybe hop to industry or to a different service line within your firm (I know DTT usually let's their CA's switch to lines like consulting, rather than have them outright leave for industry) and see if you can hop your way to a finance job. Worst case, it can only help your MBA application since you'll have a more diverse set of experience outside of B4.

Regarding IB were you thinking mid-market or were you aiming for BB-ish?
Member
Dec 5, 2010
445 posts
28 upvotes
you mentioned that you want to teach...what exactly do you want to teach tho?
Personally.. If you would like to teach in the future... don't go for the MBA...

I also think MBA is more like networking (esp when comparing to other masters)...

Yes yes.. hop to consulting if you are in B4...
Deal Addict
Sep 20, 2003
2148 posts
68 upvotes
jungeon wrote: blah blah blah, I'm jungeon and I know nothing. Blah blah blah.
You have NEVER in your life worked in management consultant OR in finance. Your advice is just flat out wrong, so for gods sake, shut up. You will NEVER make it into those industries because you're a dumbass.

To OP to answer your questions:

- With a CA, you can certainly network your way into a banking role. You will start as an analyst. You can also try to network your way into a management consulting role (out of ugrad, I spent a few years in finance before lateraling over to MC).
- A CFA is of limited value to you because of your CA. If your firm will pay for your CFA, then do it, otherwise, don't waste your time or effort. Spend your time networking instead.

For an MBA to be worth it, you absolutely need to go to a top school. Those are target schools. Your gmat should be ok for you to get into the schools, but I'd strongly advise you to retake with the goal of getting 700+. Trust me, it just helps with everything.

At first glance, your profile is fine for getting admissions into those schools. Just work your essays well.

To set yourself up to teach (i.e. become a prof), an MBA is likely not the way to go. A PHD is.

@THEANALYST: MBAs always start at an associate level. The firms will provide the modelling training.

As for the usefulness of the CFA, unless you're doing valuation consulting, the answer is not very useful at all.
Sr. Member
Apr 27, 2008
726 posts
19 upvotes
DaFonz wrote: You have NEVER in your life worked in management consultant OR in finance. Your advice is just flat out wrong, so for gods sake, shut up. You will NEVER make it into those industries because you're a dumbass.
You guys know jungeon is still in high school, right?
Jr. Member
Jun 13, 2003
165 posts
8 upvotes
Kitchener
jungeon wrote:
Also realize that finance is a branch of accounting that was invented by accountants in the 1950s and 60s, so you cannot love finance and hate accounting, theya re the same stuff. If you do a phd in finance you will be taking lots of accounting and vice versa, you should know this.
I do applaud your creativity for making up far fetched, not reality based scenario's for everything.

Were mortgages & loans not available until the 1950's?
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 24, 2010
14 posts
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the responses - some very informative stuff.

I'm leaning towards my MBA at this point, but I know I'll have to heavily emphasize the management aspect of my public accounting experience to date and possibly retake the GMAT. Anyone in here that has attended Ivey, Rotman or Queens have any admissions tips? :)

Based on on colleagues of mine who've gone the MBA or CFA route, those that do the MBA seem better-served in the end, my guess is mainly from the networking (again need to go to a top school).

Another thing I need to do is get more of a handle of what i-banking and consulting are like in actual practice vs. the you lean in school - as we all know the 2 can be very different. Anyone here that can weight in on this one?

Thanks again,
Sr. Member
Aug 30, 2007
966 posts
140 upvotes
Richmond
jungeon wrote: I do not know if you are a troll but if you are serious then basically what your saying is making no sense, your not going to be able to get an mba because you have no real management experience yet. Work as a CA for a few years and then you can switch into something else, 5 years down the road a CA can basically get into any job.

Doing your MBA or CFA will not help you get into banking or consulting either AT THIS POINT. For a CA with 5 years experience who does an mba has a decent shot of making it as a i banker or consultant. A CA with no experience has no chance at making either consulting or ibanking because they have no real experience at that point. A CA with 5 years experience can teach accounting at university level. An MBA who wants to teach will either need an excessive amount of industry experience + 10 years in several firms or get a ph.d = mba + phd = 2 years + 5-6 years = 8 years + additional years to find full work that matches your skills and no guarantee of getting into phd program which are far more competitive = 10 years on average to start working.

To be honest, I'd be surprise if you got into a top MBA program with your background. You basically do not even meet the min. requirements of 2-3 years of mgmt experience so how are you going to even get into a good never mind top program? Yes a CA is considered = mba in terms of earning power and career advancement but thats when you have experience not when your starting out.

Your in for a rude rude awakening if you even manage to sneak into a top program then get into ibanking or consulting. The ibanking and consultants are basically going to hire 90% of people who already got into those industries and have 2-3 years experience there. In I banking they hire out of undergrad, 90% of whom are laid off and told tog o get an mba in 2-3 years, 10% are promoted. So now in your mba class you are a CA with no experience who will be trying to compete against real CAs and ibankers with 2-3 years experience. Consulting is basically the exact same thing, to get a promotion they are told to go do an mba and are re-hired. You better be very damn impressive in order to get those jobs because your competing against people with industry experience and you have none as it stands.

Also figure out what you really want to do, you know you do not want to do accoutning but your all over the place, finance/ibanking/consulting/teaching, those are all very different and ime the only people who think this way are people who are very confused and who are just chasing the $$$ so will consider any $$$job.

Also realize that finance is a branch of accounting that was invented by accountants in the 1950s and 60s, so you cannot love finance and hate accounting, theya re the same stuff. If you do a phd in finance you will be taking lots of accounting and vice versa, you should know this.
Hmm interesting I know at least two newly minted CA's who got ibanking jobs in Vancouver, of all places. Go figure, eh?
Member
Dec 20, 2008
264 posts
3 upvotes
lithium_09 wrote: Hey everyone,

Thanks for the responses - some very informative stuff.

I'm leaning towards my MBA at this point, but I know I'll have to heavily emphasize the management aspect of my public accounting experience to date and possibly retake the GMAT. Anyone in here that has attended Ivey, Rotman or Queens have any admissions tips? :)

Based on on colleagues of mine who've gone the MBA or CFA route, those that do the MBA seem better-served in the end, my guess is mainly from the networking (again need to go to a top school).

Another thing I need to do is get more of a handle of what i-banking and consulting are like in actual practice vs. the you lean in school - as we all know the 2 can be very different. Anyone here that can weight in on this one?

Thanks again,

I went to Ivey. Work in consulting now and got IB offers when in school. You can PM me if you have any specific questions.
Newbie
Jan 31, 2010
16 posts
Ottawa
if you complete a B.COMM major in Accounting and decide after you want to go for your CFA, are you eligible to take it right away or will you need to complete more finance courses?

Im currently in the process of being accepted into B.Comm w/ accounting Major. I'm set on going for a CMA/CA designation after but I just want to leave my options open incase I change my mind during my b.comm and want to pursue a CFA.
Member
Dec 5, 2010
445 posts
28 upvotes
According to CFAI, you can take CFA-Level 1 if you are in your final year of your undergraduate degree if you have not obtained an undergraduate degree. Level-2 requires that you have obtained an undergraduate degree (or equivalent)

It doesn't matter what undergraduate degree you have...as long as you study... B.Sci, BA, BMath, B.ASci... Bachelor of Whatever can write the CFA Exams

More info on the CFAI website if not on this forum already...

Now on to your question... you are eligible to take it... taking more finance course only makes it easier for you comparing to those who have not taken a finance/accounting course in their life... since you just got accepted... might as well take some if you can... wouldn't hurt...and its not that bad too.

now back to topic...

Work vs. Stuff learnt in school... I THINK IB gets more out of the school stuff... just a bit more... but depends on what course you take and where in IB you end up into as well...well what you learn in school never equates to the real world... just like auditing..

Top