GMAT vs CFA + Advice?

Hey ya’ll, Let me explain my current situation first. I’m currently working as an analyst at a hedge fund and am thinking of ways to further improve myself career-wise and in terms of investing as I don’t feel like I’m learning much from work (their training program is pretty non-existant). I’d like to go to B-school for fall 2010 and so I’m looking to study for the GMAT around this time. However, I’m also considering on completing as much CFA stuff as I can before applying to beef up my resume and have about 9 days to decide whether I should sign up for the level 1 exam in Dec 2008 before it goes up $300… So my questions: 1. Is it even a good idea to study both GMAT and CFA level 1 at the same time? Ideally I’d spread them out, but long story short I HAVE to take the GMAT asap. My target date is taking the GMAT sometime in mid October. 2. B-school aside, which one is more important to have on your resume in terms of career advancement? A high GMAT score (which you can potentially turn into a good b-school later on) or a CFA certification? 3. Is it worth the gamble to wait on the CFA, take it June next year, but I run the risk of failing it and could potentially not have anything to show for other than the GMAT score by the time I apply for B-school (Fall 2009)? One more thing is that I have mentioned the GMAT idea (not CFA, he doesn’t believe in it) to my boss and he’s ok with me working part time to study for the next few months seeing as how market’s not in the greatest of shape anyways. So that would / should give me time to study for both tests. Any constructive input is appreciated. Thanks in advance. -James

GMAT on resume = Jr League. 6 weeks GMAT study time tops. 20 hours/week tops.

Lets see, your boss does not offer much training and sees more value in you studying for the GMAT vs. the CFA Level I exam… Is your boss Prescott Hahn… I’m hoping there is another dealbreaker reader who will get the reference. If not:

Who knows if B-schools even care about the CFA? But I would take a practice GMAT first to see where you stand and that should give you an idea of how much you need to study. I studied about 10 hours and got a 720; you may not need to put much effort into it.

Dude, my plan was to pass level one and then do GMAT. I failed level one. Now I’m studying for level and GMAT, target date mid September. Then focus solely on CFA If your retaking level one for the second time this year, it makes more sense to try and do both, especially if you barely failed the first time. If not, I would just focus on one or the other. Ideally you’d just want to focus on one or the other in any case. If your in a rush, and I sure am, then sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

brianr, my boss actually thinks both are not worth studying for. The only thing is a good GMAT score can provide you an admission to a good school and thus better network and opportunities. CFA to him is not necessary at all. Now while I, and obviously everyone here disagree with him, he has done quite well for himself. Not a billionaire or anything, but I will just leave it at that and say that I disagree with him, which is why I’m here on this site right now. aldford, that’s what I’m wondering also. I will take a practice exam and take it from there. skiloa, I have no experience with either tests. My thinking is yes, the CFA is harder than GMAT, but then you only have to pass the CFA. With GMAT, anybody can get a decent score (700), but my goal is to get 750+, which I assume is no walk in the park. Otherwise everyone would have 750, 800 scores. So for now I’m just putting both of them on an equal pedestal. Gouman, seems like you and I are on a similar journey buddy. How far along are you in your studies for either tests?

If you got 1500+ on the SAT then I think you have a good chance at getting a 750+ on the GMAT. I honestly think there’s more of a correlation between the SAT and the GMAT than studying for the GMAT and your performance on the GMAT.

A 710/720+ on the GMAT is more than sufficient (if your V and Q are reasonably balanced) to get into any top school. Once you’re past that mark, Bus. schools are more interested in GPA, essays, extra-curriculars & recommendations. They’re looking for well-rounded candidates, not superstars in a single area. It’s a good idea to take the GMAT early on and test your level. Most (if not all) top schools don’t care if you take several attempts and will only consider your best score. As a previous poster noted, you may get 700+ with a week’s worth of study. Good Luck

I should mention that I was more interested in starting a company + making money back in college and did not care for undergrad education at all. As a result, my undergrad GPA was pretty crappy. Didn’t believe in undergrad education then and still don’t believe in it now… until I have to apply for Bus. School. Damn. However, point taken BishBosh. Now in your opinion though, do B-schools really care whether you have CFA or not? Cause if they don’t really, then I can just postpone taking CFA for later on once I’m in or afterwards so I don’t have to cram everything together.

TraderJames Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Gouman, seems like you and I are on a similar > journey buddy. How far along are you in your > studies for either tests? I’m closing in on roughly one month of GMAT prep. I’ve just started reviewing CFA 1 material for the Dec 08 exam. CFA has been a breeze so far. I’ve already read most of the material twice this year. Still failed, so now I’m going back for more, this time focusing on problem solving. GMAT verbal was easy, however, GMAT math has been tough. I’m basically only studying the quant stuff. I will take the damn thing in September. I’m hoping to get a 650, therefore, I’m shooting for a 700.

I just got a 510 on my first practice GMAT. Looks like I have some work to do!

I’ve been in your situation. Here is my advice. I recommend that this be your order or priorities. 1) Working very hard and impressing your boss (work experience is the most important thing for getting into a great business school, assuming u don’t have problems in other areas of your application). If you don’t go to b-school…at least you’ll advance at your job and getter better pay, etc. 2) Studying for the GMAT in your spare time…starting at least 1 year before u take the exam. i started studying only 2 months before and I felt rushed. 3) Polishing up your application. This means taking on community leadership positions. I very strongly recommend that you take on a leadership position at your college alumni association or in community service(like be the leader of some initiative, etc) 4) After you’ve taken the GMAT, study for the CFA exams in your spare time on the weekends…but keeping in mind that impressing your boss is your number one goal. A top 5 MBA is way more important than a CFA charter.

Business schools will ask you to list all your professional qualifications as well as providing transcripts of all your undergraduate and graduate academic work. Being able to list the CFA charter will definitely not hurt your chances and will most probably enhance them. I know of at least one top 15 school, that sent out their first admissions notices to people with the CFA charter. This indicates to me that they probably used that as one of the key criteria in their selection process.

skiloa Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > GMAT on resume = Jr League. > That’s what I thought at first too, but it’s actually really common for MBA students to do. A lot of company’s have unofficial cut-offs, and if you don’t list your score, then tend to assume the worst. Now, if you’re not curently in an MBA program, then I wouldn’t list it.

KJH Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I just got a 510 on my first practice GMAT. Looks > like I have some work to do! Ouch! Where were you weak? I’m focusing on quant 100 percent. Verbal is a joke. I might read up on it for the final week of the exam while I’m letting all the quant work digest. I crushed the OG verbal diagnostic so I’m willing to just go into relatively blind. Quant is another story.

Verbal was ok, some dumb mistakes and tricky questions. Improvements can be made. Quant had way too many, “Doh! I knew that!” questions. So plenty of improvements can be made here. This was the diagnostic exam in the OG. My weekend will be spent in the library learning from my mistakes and running though some practice question sets.

If you work hard, 2 months is more than enough. If you start soon, by October, you will be as good as you can get at the GMAT.

I am in the same situation as you. Both MBA are useful, but CFA is more specific, while MBA is more general. CFA is useful if you are going into ER/HF/PM route. If you are going into PE/IB/VC, CFA won’t help much. A good MBA would boost your credentials more than a CFA, imho. What exactly are you doing in your company now?

I think you need to ask yourself what your career goals are. If you want to be an analyst or move up in your own company, get the CFA. Forget what your boss says, the CFA is more of a necessary evil now than when he was climbing the ladder. If you want a career change, get an MBA. I would argue that if you can’t get into a top 7 MBA program, save your money and work on the CFA. Someone else made a great point about community service. Join the junior board of a charity and help them put on fund raising events (think pub-crawls for charity) and it will look great on a resume. If you have a lousy GPA, you will need over 700 on the GMAT to even have a chance. You sound young, so you may want to wait a few years for b-school, because the number of applicants is going to skyrocket for the full time programs over the next year or so. Good luck!

markbot: Thanks for the advice. I’d definitely do all of that. I’m not too worried on impressing my boss cause he likes me already. My main focus is trying to balance work with studying for cfa + gmat + doing everything else to get ready to apply for B.School. itmonkey: I’m an analyst in the hedge fund. It’s a small firm, but I see it as a good opportunity to learn as much as I can before going to the next step - Bschool. Ideally and eventually (and I mean way far into the future) I want to start my own fund but I’m not sure where my career path might take me. If I end up going through the PE route then so be it, but right now I’m working towards the HF route. T2: Could you clarify the waiting for a while for B-school thing? Also since I’m an alumni of a business professional fraternity, I was planning on going back to the active (college) chapter to set up workshops about the different careers in finance. Do you think that’s a good way to do the community service thing? Thanks for all the help so far guys!