CFA vs. Master's with a twist.

Good morning to everyone, I am a new member of the forum, studying for the Level 1 June 2014 exam.

There are many threads out there about whether a master’s degree or a CFA is more important.

I chose CFA because after finishing my 4-years Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, I could not see myself being an academic student for another year or two, attending classes and lectures and being unable to search for a relevant job since I would be studying full-time.

I found CFA suits my psychosynthesis more, since I prefer self-study rather than being lectured and taught, because I will be covering almost everything I have been taught in university and even more thus putting my knowledge in perspective and refreshing it and because I enjoy the challenge of the exams, as many have said in other topics, who failed their master’s degree??

But after all that, I also chose CFA because I believe in its significance as part of my curriculum vitae. I of course understand that a master’s degree is an academic credential and that has its own weight.

My question now is again which you consider more important but with a clarification that I have not seen on other threads: I am not talking about a master’s degree from an Ivy League university or Oxbridge or LSE.

Would you still prefer the Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Essex over CFA, or a MSc.from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam over CFA??

Keep in mind they are not bad universities at all and very good at rankings but still not in the top ten or twenty for that matter.

I think you need to figure out your intention why you want to do either before anyone can comment. So, more important for what?

I personally would go to school. I’m happy to have completed two levels of the CFA early and hopefully in the future I am in a relevant role and once completed I’'ll have some extra compensation to show for it. For now it has marginally helped my career and shown people I’m a little more serious than the average applicant. If your goal is a job you really need to network hard or go to school. If your goal is to learn then CFA will help, but without an outlet to apply this knowledge too the benefit isn’t as clear.

Thank you for your reply.

Well, I was asking about what a potential employer would think about a CFA or a Master’s in Finance from a smaller university.

I would like to see the answers of them who have professional experience and know the job market but also whatever insight anyone has.

As far as studying, knowledge and training I chose CFA because it suits my style of learning and adapting more, and I don’t underestimate a master’s degree at all. It’s just that in my ideal plans I have decided to pursue the CFA and CMA and after enough professional experience get a MBA.

Well I have professional experience working at a big bank in NYC. I mention relevant role because where I am in the company the CFA is not needed. People respect it and one guy I work with is moving from our group to a team that manages 3B+ AUM. I think that his level 3 candidancy helped him, but he also networked a lot and has a MBA.

One thing to keep in mind is the CFA is not going to get you into a job. Especially as a level 1 or 2 candidate. So it could be 2-3 years before it begin to mean anything.

If you’re trying to get a job as a research analyst or as a portfolio manager, the charter will generally have more weight than an MBA from a non-target school. I’ve been involved in the hiring process a few times and that’s how I’ve looked at. However, in the end, experience trumps all.

For example, we just went through the interview process to hire a senior analyst for our group. The final two candidates’ academic profiles were strikingly different. One had an MBA from an Ivy League school while the other only had an undergrad from an unimpressive state school. Both had 15 plus years of experience. Neither had the charter. Both got interviews through networking.

Thank you for your replies lxwarr30 and spunboy.

Maybe I should make it clearer in my first post, but since I am just out of uni I was talking about entry level positions, research analyst would be great.

So I get it that in the long-term, the more charters, certifications, MBAs, Master’s Degrees and above all pure experience the better you stand. But the focus of the topic is on fresh out of uni like myself and what they should pick between CFA and a Master’s from a not top tier school, if they could only pick one of them.

I feel like you didn’t read anything written above.

My .02 -

Experience trumps all. If you have no experience, then you’ve got nothing.

One GOOD certification (CFA, CPA, JD, or “quality” MBA) is better than a dozen lesser well-known ones.

When choosing a school, the most important thing you can know is “Who recruits here?” Do Goldman, PIMCO and Ernst & Young recruit there? Or do the local credit union and the local “mom and pop accounting service” recruit there?

CFA will probably not help you “break in”. It should only be viewed as an add-on to somebody who already works in finance.


Quite honestly, if you get a master in something (with the exception of MBA or JD), you are expected to work in academic area? i don’t see why you would work in corporate or public practice with a master degree in chemistry.

I think you are comparing apples and oranges here. I think it’s like you are 17 and deciding if you should go into science and do med school or should you go into law.

They are very different career paths.

PERSONALLY, i wouldn’t consider master degrees because i don’t have passion to study anything in depth, i would like to learn many different things but to get a master degree it’s too much of an investment (time and money) for me, that i can’t think of any subject that interests me that much.

CFA is more a job requirement, for me, and it’s free, all i have to do is invest my time, which doesn’t cost a lot since i am young. :slight_smile: