Education Advice

Not-so-brief history: Went to UCLA for undergrad, wanted to make a lot of money in finance. Was lazy about doing proper career research, didnt get any meaningful summer internships, and stupidly took an offer as BOM doing fund accounting. Realized I was in the wrong position, started studying for CFA in hopes that it would assist in getting an actual analyst position of some sort. Fell in love, got married. Realized career in finance is HARD WORK and while Im not lazy, Im just not willing to sacrifice 60-90 hours per week when I have a growing family at home. Abandoned finance dreams, got stable accountant position in a government agency with lower but adequate pay. Now then… given the situation I have described, I am contemplating what to do about further education. My employer will contribute up to $5,000 per year to pay for work-related studies and I am contemplating getting an MBA. I work in Los Angeles, and am trying to decide between: 1) UCLA/USC - Great prestige and networking opportunities but tuition is over $30,000 per year. Given my diminished career ambitions, it seems the ROI is not high enough to justify spending $25k+ per year. 2) Cheap state university - Absolutely zero prestige, but tuition will likely be 100% covered by employer. I realize in finance this type of degree would likely mean nothing, but it would certainly be more valuable to someone in my position, right? 3) Nothing - Is it even worth the time to get a degree you may or may not utilize? On the other hand, I am a big believer in continual self-improvement… would I be stupid not to take free education? Please share constructive thoughts on education, thanks! Also, if you can think of a better career path for a brainy math/econ guy who likes finance but not finance hours, please share that as well.

“Also, if you can think of a better career path for a brainy math/econ guy who likes finance but not finance hours, please share that as well.” If you like finance and have a lot of back office experience, look into one of the GSEs (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac). Their hours are absurd (less than 40 hours per week) and I believe both have offices in Los Angeles. Despite the GSEs’, umm, questionable performance the last few years, both are packed with unattractive, intelligent, pretty well paid finance/econ nerds.

My comments for what they are worth… “Absolute zero prestige” - my impression is that people often get hired by someone they know, and based on known track record, so the zero prestige school might not necessarily be a huge drawback even though, admittedly, a prestigous school makes things easier. What about CISA? (Check out “Also, if you can think of a better career path for a brainy math/econ guy who likes finance but not finance hours, please share that as well.” You could take up a job as the CEO of a pension fund; my boss often comes in at 9 or 10 am and almost always leaves at or before 5 pm., he sometimes flies around the globe to meet up with investors on all continents, makes the occasional presentation to the board of directors… and the occasional weekly pep-talk with his staff. It was the same with my former boss, also in the same business. Both seemed very relaxed, family oriented. As for education, you are familiar with this quote I take it? It’s from “The Once and Future King”: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing, which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”