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eFC Readers See 'Red Meat' in Latest CFA Story

Hunting for answers to a question posed by readers' heated responses to a previous eFC story, we walked into a bullfight.

Assessing the Value of the CFA Charter

Readers' comments about a prior story comparing and contrasting the CFA designation and an MBA inspired us to further research, which led to this follow-up on July 10. Response to the latest story is pouring in even faster, and the debate so far is even hotter.

Many readers disputed the article's conclusion that the CFA charter retains its value. Two common criticisms: a lack of prerequisites to register for Level I, and the fact that CFA candidates compete against Indians and Chinese in the program (as if other financial professionals don't!).

Contrasting the CFA with master's degree programs in business or finance, Anastopolous, who works in hedge funds wrote, "The CFA has no pre-selection criteria, a plumber, taxi car driver, etc., can study and pass. For formal programs there is a selection process before it starts."

Efram who works in investment banking wrote of CFA candidates, "You will be competing with 100,000 analysts in Bangalore and Shenzen for $3/hour jobs."

On the other side of the issue, CFA_ivy_grad, who also works in hedge funds, said , "I have found the CFA program to be very useful. Ivy grads who claim they learned enough in college are kidding themselves....What bothers me is kids who think they are 'too good' for programs like CFA that are ruining the reputation of my alma mater once they enter the workforce, not kids from random state schools ruining the reputation of my CFA designation."

If you'd like to add your views, you can do it here.

Of course, you can comment on any of our stories. Just post your throughts in the area immediately following each item. Or, write us at We'd love to hear from you.

AUTHOReFinancialCareers News Insider Comment
  • AB
    A Bhanja
    24 July 2007

    Great to see so many comments. But in India, MBAs are everywhere and 99% have no value other than pushing credit cards/loans for some DSA of a bank. More than 75% of the MBAs from IIMs [the top most prestigious MBA institutes in India] get kicked out of their jobs in a year.
    I am currently enrolled in CFA and find the syllabus tough and demanding. CFAs popularity in India will only grow given the interest everyone is showing in India's capital markets.

    But of course a top ten MBA from US/Europe is always a bigger and better option [but then those folks have to understand Portfolio Theory separately if they are not Finance majors].

    My 2c,
    A Bhanja
    Bangalore, INDIA.

  • In
    Investment Research Associate
    23 July 2007

    It is really true that CFA became a less valuable now, as more and more people took it without any experience, but hope to get into the door. Now it is just like another other exams, like GRE/GMAT, you practice it and you can pass. However, what you lack is the view of the market, the strategy, and business sense that is not taught in the CFA courses. That is why I gave up CFA only strategy and pursue a top MBA + CFA strategy, and I believe it will finally pay off.

  • So
    Some dumb kid
    23 July 2007

    I think that a top ten MBA is a lot better than a CFA. But not everyone can get into these top MBA programs due to the intense competition. For those that cannot get in to a top program then the CFA is a lot better than going to some unknown state school to get your MBA. Also I wanted to add that the CFA by it self has some value but it is my opinion that if you are planning to get a CFA and not an MBA then you should also look at getting other certifications on top of the CFA (like a CAIA or the FRM certification). By doing this you can differentiate yourself from all the people that just have a CFA. Once again a top MBA is the best thing you can get but the CFA is a great backup plan.

  • Hi
    Hiring manager
    20 July 2007

    Having no bias -- neither a CFA nor MBA be I -- and also hiring analysts regularly, I say that:

    Passing the CFA Part I is a far better measure of basic aptitude for entry-level finance work (skill plus discipline) than any particular undergraduate degree. That's more a criticism of undergraduate degrees than it is praise of the CFA Part I, but there you go.

    The popularity of the CFA in India and China is a good thing for US/EU/Canada workers, not a bad thing. India and China are awash in inflated and outright fraudulent credentials; the presence of the CFA as an available, objective standard keeps those who tout those other, dubious, credentials from touting them as effectively.

    There is no comparison between a top MBA and a CFA. A top MBA remains far more valuable. This is mainly because Part II and Part III don't represent a material advance on the intellectual and work demands of Part I. It's also due to the work requirement: when the experience requirements is faithfully enforced, the experience becomes far more important than the charter; when (as is too often the case) the experience requirement is laxly interpreted, lack of experience makes the candidate unqualified.

  • T,
    T, a trader
    19 July 2007

    I have always hesitated to go for the CFA because there is. I am a trader with licenses, an engineering degree and MBA, and before I could get into these programs, there were strict cut offs. So Anastopolos, Efram and J, in my opinion are all correct. What I see is a product being mass marketed. I see a severe dilution of the brand in the near future.

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