MBA or CFA decision

I’m Jason, 28 years old and currently an undergraduate student at Portland State Univeristy. I’m debating about getting a MBA/MSF and perhaps you could help clarify things a little. First off, I already have a BS in Biology from Washington State Univeristy but I decided to change routes after graduation. I have been taking business classes here for the past 2 years. I’m only 8 classes away from finishing another bachelors but I have been debating just going for my MBA instead since I already have a bachelors degree. I have been working in food manufacturing as a Quality Assurance Supervisor for the past 3 years but I don’t have any finance experience yet. My career plan is to start off as a investment, financial or equity analyst in WM/AM after finishing my BA in Finance or an MBA/MSF. Then I’m hoping to advance to a portfolio manager in 10 years. So here’s the debate: 1) Finish bachelors degree in finance then find a job in the industry such as analyst, while taking the CFA exams. Then later on I can go back for a MBA/MSF, if needed, and perhaps my company could help with the cost at that time. 2) Skip another bachelors and try to apply for MBA/MSF programs. Then take CFA exam post-MBA/MSF. The additional $50,000-$70,000 in student loans scare me, especially since the CFA is gaining traction. I’m just trying to find the best route for my finance career because I would like to avoid unnecessary debt and get some work experience sooner than later. What do you guys think? Be Gentle! LOL :slight_smile:

How about networking?

what are you asking for exactly?

Obviously this forum may be biased, but for what you’re ultimate goals are, I’d suggest the CFA. Even having passed Level 1 will allow you to get your foot in the door to begin gaining experience in the industry. Work towards full CFA charter as you gain your experience - in most cases, if you’re involved someway in the industry your work experience should translate to the CFA material… maybe only 10%, but that helps. Cost for the CFA is much lower than a University based program as well. Plus, depending on where you work, you can start taking MBA courses and get reimbursed along the way. This would likely not be for a top 10 b-school, but if you’re looking for something you can do while you work to get some knowledge and to check the box, it works.

Hey Jason-

I think it’s a solid plan. I think you are right in prioritizing CFA over MBA for now. CFA obviously has much better ROI than does an MBA for an analyst. My personal opinion is you really don’t need a full time, top 10 MBA, unless you are looking to re-brand and pivot into a new field. If you want to be a portfolio manager you just really need the CFA and a strong work ethic. Even still, I know PM’s without their Charter, but the Charter will help differentiate yourself from other people. From my experience, you can really only plan one year ahead at a time. Once your done with the exams, you may find additional education isn’t needed because your excelling at your position or your networking is solid. Working hard and obtaining the charter are really all you need to be succesful as an equity analyst. Good luck with everything.

Option 1

I’d obtain finance experience prior to getting an MBA. As someone already mentioned, pursuing the CFA should help facilitate this. If you go to a subpar school with no relevant experience in finance, I don’t think an MBA would benefit you in the slightest. You’d probably just end up right where you are now, but facing a mountain of debt (which it sounds like you might already be facing).

And not to be a dick…but if you’re going to get your MBA, you’ve gotta go to a better school than Portland State.

This for sure! OP, hit me up if you want to grab a coffee/beer sometime in the near future and I’ll try to answer some of the questions you have.

option 1

I’d brake for all animlas except cougs.

Get out of portland and move to the neighbor up north or south. take cfa and kill it at your job.

MBA is zero value add at this point without any relevant work experience. Try to leverage your experience into something that has to do finance within your company for a few years first before even thinking about a MBA.

Thanks for your advice everybody!! I’m really leaning towards option 1-just finishing 2nd bachelors and then doing the CFA exams and maybe persuing an MBA later on, if needed.

Also, I wouldn’t get my MBA at Portland State. I would get it from some top 25 schools such as Arizona State University, Indiana Univeristy or Georgetown. But that wouldn’t be until later on when i have some finance experience.

Might just be me but persuing the CFA without experience is just as “bad” as persuing an MBA without experiene.

You should be spending the first couple of years out of college establishing yourself as an adult that can function outside of the school system.

Well I mentioned that when I finished my bachelors in finance that I would start working in the industry while also studying for the CFA exams.

I believe that is a good strategy although depends how do you execute it? More time for networking? It will work…

I think the question no one has asked you is, what is the job market like in Portland? I have little exposure to Oregon but I feel like the finance industry there is near zero, especially in big money portfolio management. Are you willing to move to a big city? Where are you going to move to get your start? How can you prove you have the skills required at 28 yo, (and 32 at the earliest to get your Charter), to be an analyst? How does your previous experience lend itself to research?

I’m not saying it’s not possible, but there are some really tough questions to answer before you go through with either option, both of which are costly in time and money with very uncertain payoffs. I don’t think corporate finance is out of your realm of possibilities but you will forgive me for thinking investment analysis is a stretch.

The Portland market is surprisingly decent depending on what you’re looking for. There are some quality HNW/UHNW shops, retirement plan consulting firms, and even a decent number of hedge funds kicking around (quality varies). There’s even, I would say, one solid MF in town.

It’s not fantastic by any means, but the jobs are there if you’re looking to get your foot in the door.

I heard there is some decent FA activity in Oregon. I don’t know about other fields though.


I am a charterholder and I am currently getting my MBA (2nd year). Although you might not learn as much as others in school if you complete the CFA program (especially in finance), the access to peers who have been in the industry and the access to companies looking to hire has made it more than worth it in my situation. I worked in a back office role with fixed income before school, and will be starting as a buy-side equity analyst after graduation. The CFA def helped me break in, but I don’t think I would have had so many great opportunities if I hadn’t gone to get my MBA. Just my two cents (and obvisouly region, school etc will have an impact).

Well, I might move out of the Portland area eventually but don’t have any plans to soon. I could possibly move to Seattle but don’t have any desire to move to New York, LA or Chicago. I think with my bachelors in finance and working towards a CFA plus some networking would help land an Analyst or Jr. Analyst job. I would prefer the more investment side such as equity analyst over corporate finance though.

Network your tits off. You’re school unfortunately doesn’t provide much brand so you will have a hard time landing the job you’re looking for…CFA might help but it’s an uphill battle. ASU, Indiana, or Georgetown for MBA will give you negative value-add, you will end up with loads of debt and nothing to show for it. MBA is really only worth it for the brand, so aim top 10 or not at all…it’s possible with the right experience, good story, good GPA, and solid GMAT.

So you don’t think i would be able to land an equity analyst or investment analyst position with a Bachelors in Finance from Portland State Univeristy and persuing CFA?

I’m not nessicarly trying to get into IB or any top firms but more “average” investment firms. So wouldn’t a top 25 school MBA work for that?

I guess i’m looking for a position with the best possible ROI and pay. I could try the financial analyst route in corporate finance but I would prefer the investment side.