CFA-->CPA question

Hey guys, Just took level 2…hope i passed…anyway… I’m thinking starting my CPA studies in between 2 and 3. I read if you put in 400 hours you should pass. I’m great at time management and the hours will not be a problem. At the very least I want to knock 2-3 parts out before I start studying again for the CFA in decemeber…Don’t worry about me relaxing, I don’t burn out (knocks on wood). My question is if any of you have both designations and the steps you took to achieve them? I would like to know the best study material to use (my firm WON’T pay for the CPA), so fairly cheap. I can learn well on my own. Also what sections can I take right away that might overlap with some of my CFA studies, if any? Thank you guys for any input.

I’m both a charterholder and a CPA. I’m not trying to be discouraging, but why do you want to pursue a CPA? The CPA has definitely been beneficial to my career but the AICPA/State Boards of Accountancy have pretty stringent work experience and education requirements to the license. Make sure you check out the work experience requirements before you invest your time (ie New York REQUIRES audit experience to get the designation). When I took the CPA exam I used Becker live classes. I took the view that I wanted to put in the time and knock it all out at once and Becker definitely did the trick.

i’m a cpa and have passed all the cfa exams and currently wait for the experience to accrue. for the life of me, i can’t understand why you’d want to do that. is there a real reason or do you think it’ll impress potential employers? most people who have both, as far as i can tell, got their cpa first and then realized they wanted a change. that’s what i did. as far as studying, when i took the cpa exam five years ago (under the old format), i started studying in july, got married in august, worked a ton in sept and oct, and passed all four parts in november. its definitely doable. you just have decide its worth the cost. if i were you, unless you have a really, really good reason career-wise to want to do that, it would definitely not be worth it.

Well A. I have the time B. I am still young C. I work in investment banking, but want to go get an MBA in 2 years and then switch over to PE D. Not only do I think it will make me a more well rounded “analyst/associate” whatever you want to call it…I feel with both a CFA and CPA studies I’ll be able to look at many different aspect of a transaction, something I might not do with just a CFA. Although my last reason serves as my biggest impetus, I also feel that coming out of a top MBA wiht a CFA and a CPA will give me a MUGH HIGHER chance for employment at a firm of MY choosing. Overall, thanks for the feedback guys!!!

this is all my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt… A. life is too short and there are too many things on this planet to enjoy to feel you need to do it all in a rush, if at all. B. see A. C. so have you looked into whether you can even get your cpa? to my knowledge, IB doesn’t qualify as work experience. what about the educational requirements? do you have 30 hrs of accounting classes and 150 hours of college credit or a masters in accounting (most states will require that you have this or something similar)? do you work under a cpa? D. you think it’ll make you more well-rounded, but i’m less certain. tell me how spending 100+ hours studying the difference between an audit, a review, and a compilation will help you do this? what about the difference between credits and deductions and how to calculate the alt min tax on an individual return? cost accounting? if well-roundedness is what you’re after from an education perspective, you’re better off taking an online course targeted to what you want to know. or, you could just wait until you get your mba. having letters after your name isn’t a panacea to getting good jobs. all else equal, sure, but most times, all else isn’t equal. what good things can you be doing in your life if your not studying. If you’re choosing between studying for the cpa exams and watching american idol, go ahead and study. if you’re giving up time spent with family or friends, traveling, reading good books, learning the guitar or french, volunteering at the food bank, visiting museums, etc, i’d reconsider. again, not only is life short, but it will also help your mba application. getting into a good school, after all, will have a much bigger impact on which firm you join than having cpa after your name. best of luck.

Sounds like you have a lot of time on your hands for a i-banker. Must be a busy shop! Anyhow, I work in i-banking also and my two cents is that you will not necessarily look well-rounded with all these letters; you will look very confused about what you want to be when you grow up. After a few years of solid work experience, the letters don’t mean much; work experience, your network and personality are what matters in this business.

mlh97…Thank you for your honest feedback, I really do take what you say to heart. For the states I’d want to live/work in, well I’ve met all the requirements…150 hours, 30 accounting classes, and currently as an M&A analyst I work under a CPA, and suprisingly, they will count that as a year of work experience. I am not giving up any of life’s freedoms, at the most this CPA will take away from me 400 hours, thats an average of 1 hour a day…I think I can afford to not watch The Office as often (although I must say it is the best show on television- I used to enjoy Curb Your Enthusiasm, and this takes the cake). Again thanks for the insight though and I know I have a formidable task in front of me. One question I did have is that with my CFA studies which sections should I take first because they will mirror a lot of the material in my studies? I heard BEC and FIN??? Is that true or it should not matter. Again, thanks for your time and your honest feedback! Much appreciated, Mike

bhill020. I actually don’t work at a bulge bank, but a small boutique M&A bank. It’s a 8-6 job. I know networking and job experience matters, but you see I came out of a non-target school and the big banks, actually any banks, never looked twice. I actually don’t mind; I enjoy the challenge. I just graduated, but if I can finish up my CFA and CPA exams by 23, I can transfer out to a different shop, then have an even greater chance to make a top 5 program. I am also currently learning Mandarin (for fun)…now that a b*tch…much worse than the CPA. Thanks for the input

I am a CPA and have passed all three CFA exams. Assuming you passed level 2, the CPA exams won’t be a problem for you, but I have to go with the others who are questioning this decision. I (and probably all the others who responded) was a CPA before I took the CFA exams, and used them to facilitate a career change. If you earn the charter, you really won’t derive any incremental benefit from the CPA. As bhill said, it will make you look like ou don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. The i-banking, CFA and MBA are more than sufficient. I think you would be better served by focusing on the Mandarin.

I’ve def been confronted about this before. I’ve been interviewing last week and had a small mini-sentence about that in my cover letter. It is not that I am not sure of what I want to do, I TRULY believe that it will help me, and I can always find a way to spin it, if it might look “bad”. I know most of it…aka auditing and some regulation, is useless…but that is the same with a CFA. I doubt I’ll ever need to know swaps or currency hedging (in what I want to do that is). And, as strange as it may sound… I enjoy learning as much as I love jack and cokes on friday nights…and headaches on saturday morning. Thanks again, to all you guys that added insight and your words of wisdom. Again, I’m only 22 and if I am still in my “study mode” and don’t have any great opportunity costs because of it…well why not? Mike

Ni hao ma. Wo ai he pijiou. Ni ne? Stick to the Mandarin. Getting a top MBA and just passing the CFA will be sufficient (and probably more than necessary) for your goals. Forget the CPA.

Mike, I was/am in your boat. I’m 26, a state school grad, 3.0 gpa, whatever. No BB looks whatsoever. Thought about cert collecting but wised up and got a few mentors. The best thing I’ve done for my career was getting solid mentors. They got me both my internships in undergrad, one at a public IB shop the other on the CDO desk of a major AM firm. In both cases I was one of 200-500 applicants. I had no business being there, but I was. Now were working on getting me into higher finance. During my internships I had the opportunity to have long talks with MDs and VPs about my prospects in the industry coming from a non feeder school background with only a 3.0 gpa. Being “wet behind the ears” then, like you seem to be now, I went on and on about my ambitious cert collection plan (I was going to do CFA, CPA, CMA/CFM — LOL). They basically all said don’t waste your time, get a job, then get your MBA and maybe a CFA if think you might want to do research and most importantly, get some more well connected mentors. Whenever I brought up the CPA designation I was asked questions like – “why are you here if you just want to be an accountant?” I wised up and decided to focus on CFA, networking and learning about industries of interest in my region instead of being a cert collector. To my surprise, one of my chief mentor (a retired chief investment officer, current VC Corp Chair), who I lunch with regularly, has informed me that he would like to introduce me to the Executive VP of a local PE shop to talk about opportunities for me there, after I’ve been in my current post for at least a year and if I finish CFA level one. I’m just a measly junior analyst in the FP&A group of a corporation, no MBA, CFA or anything. CPA alone would never open doors for me like that. So why would one bother with such things when you can take advantage of connected friends and save your 400 hours for something more relevant and still get what you want? Don’t say because you love learning or some cliche horse sh!t like that. You want to get into IB/PE asap, just like everyone else, not spend more time/money studying, don’t you?

I passed the CPA exams in b/w Level 1 and 2 and I agree with all the other dual takers above. However, I don’t think it’ll necessarily take 400 hours of study. I think you’d be better served to take the GMAT if you want to do an MBA. I don’t think any PE shop will care at all if you have a CPA. Also, you won’t really be considered a CPA, in a sense, because you’d be missing the real accounting/auditing experience (I know you said you can get someone in M&A to sign off) that most people come to expect a real CPA to have. If you do decide to go through the pain, you could probably pass each level with 30-50 hours of cramming assuming you had a very solid Acc education.

It sounds to me like you’re absolutely determined to collect the CPA cert regardless of what good advice people on here provide, so why did you even ask the question. I can’t really talk…I am a CA (Canadian version of CPA) and just wrote Level 2 but like many others, the CFA comes after the accounting designation. With that said, I would NEVER bother with an MBA after both of these designations because after a commerce undergrand and two professional designations, the MBA would be completely redundent. But MBAs in Canada are not viewed with as much respect as they seem to be in the U.S. You seem like a reasonably bright young kid and I’m sure whatever you choose will work out fine. Just make sure that your end game behind collecting all these certs makes sense. Just to get in the door somewhere, the CPA is a waste of time. The 300 - 400 hours would be better spent getting out there meeting the right people. 75% of the people in my i-banking shop came through referrals.

Thanks for the input… bhill020- it is not like I do not value your advice or any one else’s for that matter. I do…regardless of how it may seem In terms of an MBA…can’t really start studying/no point–> I just graduated in May and well to get into a top 5 school I need at LEAST 2 years of work experience, because my i-bank is not known…AT ALL…and my school was a solid school, but not very well known outside of the Midwest. As far as mentors, I have no clue how to even go about doing so. I always figured that you get a mentor when you join a company, the bank I work for, it not mentor worthy…I’m trying to leave! So in that regard I really do not know how to obtain a mentor. as far as networking and trying to break into a bigger shop…I do that EVERY DAY. I found this site that goes through and lists all i-banks/asset mgmt firms/even some pe shops in most major metropolitan cities. Not only have I been applying to those jobs (started a week ago), but in most cases I try to call the firm personally and make sure I talk to the person doing the hiring and then send them the e-mail directly, not through some default e-mail. It is really frustrating because I graduated a solid school with a 3.9, with a background in finance, accounting and economics…know more about this field than others at age 22…and have cfa 2 under my belt…but still have trouble getting interviews even with all that, because I didn’t go to a known school. I apologize if it does not seem like I value your guys advice, in reality this is the most advice I’ve gotten about this and I truly…truly…am appreciative. I am not trying to have a pity party, but am trying to find something that will get me over that hump…that can show my true dedication to finance and my continues capacity for development. Again, thanks again, I’ll try to re-assess my situation in the coming week.

Will you share where you went to school?

well I’m not big on divulging info on a public site…let’s just say its considered one of the better schools in accounting in the country (in terms of CPA pass rate) and an above-average school in the Midwest… if you really wanna know you can send me an email at Thanks

bhill020 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I can’t really talk…I am a CA (Canadian version > of CPA) and just wrote Level 2 but like many > others, the CFA comes after the accounting > designation. With that said, I would NEVER bother > with an MBA after both of these designations > because after a commerce undergrand and two > professional designations, the MBA would be > completely redundent. But MBAs in Canada are not > viewed with as much respect as they seem to be in > the U.S. Hey bhill020, Hows your experience been with the CA? I’ve set the CA as my back-up plan if I dont get into a decent ibank next year (graduating 08). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the CA and what can someone do with it in terms of getting into ibanking later on. Some have even suggested that I shouldnt even bother applying to IBs this september and just head on to get my CA. Thanks!

there’s one thing missing in all of this - RESULTS Collecting letters after your name is fine, but only if it helps you get Results on the board. Nobody hires letters - they hire Results - ie sales, profits, revenue, volume - whatever you’re measured on. Only in the absense of a track record of results do they look at letters. So get the CPA if you think it will help you get better results on the job. Can’t hurt - but is it a good bang for your buck and the time you have to put in? The fact that your firm won’t pay for it will give you a clue. The problem with most kids in their early 20s is that they have too much education and not enough results under their belt - they’re too busy collecting letters. Without a strong record of results you’re “just a kid with potential” - big risk to hire. If you’re competing with a similar person with similar letters, then the extra CPA might swing it your way. But letters pale into insignificance if you have real results to demonstrate. If you spend the extra 400 hours or whatever on getting better results, you’ll kill any other job hunter with MBA, CFA, CA, but NFI. All firms care about is “Can you make them money, quickly?” Spend your extra time getting better results you’ll double or triple your chances of landing a great job. btw - I don’t really know where CPA is valued - suburban accounting practice and medim-sized businesses maybe - (i’m not having a go at CPAs - just don’t know they fit in - honest) - corporates and big chartered firms look for CA, PE and consulting firms look for MBAs, IB looks for sales track record & BS ability, asset consultants need actuaries, HF needs quants, etc… CPAs?? The message is 1) great record of real measurable results beats letters any day 2) by all means do courses - but only if they improve your actual performance and get you better measurable results (or to genuinely expand your mind, which has nothing to do with work) 3) Figure out what you want to do, then do it - don’t pick up miscellaneous letters on the way because “it’s only 400 hours”. It’s just vague and tells people you’re not focused …imho…

Mez The CA has been great for me but I think it depends in large part where you do your articling. I articled with a Big Four and it opened a lot of doors. If you article at a small firm, you just don’t get the same breadth and depth of experience or network of contacts. Once you pass the uniform final exam (UFE), you can also go on a secondment virtually anywhere in the world with the Big Four. I went to the Cayman Islands for a year before moving out of audit. When I returned from Cayman and started applying for corporate finance / banking (front office) jobs, I found the market to be very receptive to the CA designation. There were very few jobs that I applied for where I did not get an interview. I may be wrong but it seems that the CA in Canada is a more highly regarded designation then the CPA in the U.S. Now, keep in mind that I was applying to Canadian firms (e.g. RBC, etc.). I doubt the U.S. BB’s would be very receptive to the CA designation. If you want to do i-banking at a BB in the U.S., MBA (from a top school) seems to be far and away the best route. However, the banks in Canada (some more than others) seem to like the strong understanding of FS that the CA provides. You can also work in Corporate Finance (CF) at a Big Four to get sell-side experience with a view to moving on to a bank. The Big Four in Canada all provide mid-market sell-side investment banking services, with the exception of underwriting. So more sale mandates of private businesses, raising PE or debt financing, etc. They don’t provide much of these services in the U.S. due to regulatory concerns. I think KPMG Corporate Finance Inc. is the only one providing IB in the U.S. Most of the finance related work performed by the Big Four in the U.S. is “Transaction Services” (i.e. due diligence) which is completely different from CF (it’s really just glorifed auditing). Let me know if you have any more specific questions. I would be happy to answer.