CFA vs CPA for a Career in Finance in Canada

Hi Guys,

I was debating whether to pursue CFA vs CPA. Brief background, 8 years experience in Technology Consulting. Pursuing MBA at province level MBA in Western Canada(ranked within top 10 in Canada).

Have passed CFA Level 1 and thinking to write CFA Level 2 at the end of the 2nd year. However on observing replies on this forum: Most investment jobs are in Toronto, where we have an oversupply of CFAs.

I was looking at CPA route and :slight_smile: , even after finishing all pre-requisites, I need to do 2 years of CPE and then I can write the exams.

Do you think CPA is an easier route to finance.

What do you want to do with your life? Wanting to be in finance is like wanting to be an engineer. It’s an open statement with little meaning. That could be processing invoices to negotiating billion dollar M&A. The answer you get will be highly dependent on what you want to do.

I’m a CA/CPA working in Finance in Toronto, might be able to provide some insight if you share a bit more on what it is you want to do for a career

I am a quantitative type of person, who tends to analyze situations from a logical point of view.

For e.g. I spent some years of life in a place where the language was spoken was alien to me. I would describe the process of understanding the language as re-engineering i.e. where you have the final product but you don’t know the individual components.

I realize that CFA is more suited to my background. However, I have seen people with engineering/econometrics background going the accounting route. I believe there is a need for analytical people in accounting, as people have failed to see scandals in the past (Correct me if I am wrong) ?

So my question to you is this:

Do we need to study 2 years of weekend classes after completing the pre-requisite to be able to be eligible to sit for the 4 exams ?

How easy would it be to start your own practise after a few years ?


I know few alumni who tried this CPA thing… didn’t work out. Finally end up going back to engineering jobs…

Did they complete CPA ?

I can make more money as a Business Analyst to start.Having said that you know that tech is not big in Canada. Money made over the career is not a spot price but rather area under the curve. I think you too have 4 years of tech exp + bachelor degree in Engg.

My target market is not Toronto to begin with. I would rather try in Western provinces and may be few years later move to US/Toronto. If nothing works out I can stick to tech.

^ Completely wrong. Tech is way bigger than accounting in Canada. You’re seriously misled if you’ve heard otherwise. Most accountants struggle to crack $100k but someone with 5+ years of SAP or BI or Oracle is making bank. I know, my wife is one of them. She gets headhunted weekly for opportunities. I do well in finance but I’m near the top of my class for outcomes from the people I’ve kept in touch with. Most are still in intermediate analyst roles 10 years out. Three of us (out of maybe 50 I keep in touch with) are manager level. Currently in Calgary I see 5x as many postings for SAP, Business Analysts & IT project managers compared to anything in accounting/finance. And they probably outnumber pure finance jobs 100:1. You should figure out what standard of living you want to achieve and determine the best path to it from where you’re at. Your IT background (if legit and not just call centre support) plus MBA is a much bigger ticket than accounting jobs. CPA can be beneficial. Don’t get me wrong. But your 10 years of IT experience should have a much higher NPV than spending another 5 years chasing a credential with marginal benefit in your situation.

Something weird I have figured out recently is that in tech there is so much room for maneuver than accounting.I maybe totally wrong but improving in tech is directly correlated with how you think and your creativity which can be improved significantly. From what I have seen accounting is alot like the armed forces, you have to spend specific time at specific positions.I may be completely wrong but breadth and depth of knowledge plays a much more significant part in CS/Tech than in accounting.The reason I chose not to major in accounting was because its not easy to move up the ranks if you are talented IMHO.

Also these days with all the distruptive industries you can never be certain that jobs like accounting that are kind of blue collar corporate stuff will not be automated.I personally think one has to be an idiot to change from tech to accounting unless they are in very specific situations.In my very very very uneducated guess and from what I have seen myself ( at least 5 cases) its very easier to transition from a decent tech background to “high finance” than an accounting one.

Thanks for your reply. It makes sense. Do you have any idea what sort of skills/domain knowledge along with tech can makimize my value in Canada. By tech I mean business analysis/ project management.

I think you’d be best of staying in your industry. Finance is great, but difficult to break into. That said, I see that you are in an MBA program, any contact with banks there for recruiting?

You nailed it.




Financial IT is good cash. Your MBA will help with that. CPA would help too but you’ll have to grunt through the experience component and your NPV is likely going to suck down that path.

Bro, For an MBA you use an awful lot of words to convey few ideas. You are comparing Indian IT with North American IT. Companies such as Wipro will only mislead you regarding IT. The stressful part about IT is wrong. That’s what you experienced back in India. In Canda the stress aspect is significantly lower though not absent. Learning new stuff every day that’s not how tech companies operate in NA. IT is not only software developer. You have team leaders/project managers/business analysts etc. The link below will educate you the differences.

The part regarding IT that sucks is lower respect within the organization and a lower upper cap in salary - unless you are in a hot domain such as SAP or Analytics. That’s why I inquired regarding how to maximize my NPV using complimentary skills.

I see your experience is similar to mine (though 4 years less). So what’s your plan ? Do you want to start in accounting ?

I agree that CPA would be a good complement to tech. I was interested in CMA as it did not have pre-requisites etc. CMA merged with CPA so no longer have that option. However as you have said path of CPA is too long = 1 year of prereqs + 2 years of PEP + exams. So CPA is out of question.

For the next 1 year my goals would be:

  1. Improving writing and communication skills by joining groups such as Toastmasters.
  2. Doing PMP and Business Analysts certifications.
  3. Sharpening my tech/analytical skills by taking such courses in MBA.
  4. Possibly writing CFA Level 2 (graduating year).

CFA looks like a total overkill given I will be most probably working in tech. By gut, however, says that I should complete CFA.

I would be interacting with a few more people to finalize my plans and update the thread if something changes.