When it comes to earning your certifications, what merits do an MBA and a CFA have? Which should you earn first?

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What is the difference between earning an MBA and earning a CFA? Which should you earn first? They’re both obviously fantastic degrees and designations that will open up doors for you with future employers.

The MBA can be a lot more expensive to acquire, and it can be more difficult to put your life on hold to pursue it—unless it’s an Executive MBA, but those can be extremely competitive and not always located nearby.

The CFA, while significantly cheaper is arguably much more difficult to get. If you’re interested in the investment management aspect of  private wealth arena, especially if you have seven to eight years of experience (or more), many firms will expect you to have that degree before you work with them. Not having one could limit your career growth opportunities.

Why get an MBA? We see three reasons:

  1. An MBA can open up opportunities for leadership roles later on as many times firms are adamant that a candidate have an MBA in certain C-Level positions.
  2. The clients you’re dealing with may be selling businesses, and an MBA will provide are broader world view and deeper understanding of the issues.
  3. Optics: Many firms are looking for an MBA from a top-tier institution to tout in their marketing to their clientele



There are some clients who will require you to have both an MBA and a CFA to even be considered for the opportunity to work with them.


Why get a CFA if your focus is in the investment management side of private wealth? There are a couple reasons for this, as well:

  1. The knowledge a CFA imparts could be critical in your role, such as if you were a CIO or in a Single-Family Office as an Investment Analyst or Portfolio Manager.
  2. Even if your role doesn’t involve research and due diligence per say, it’s becoming more and more important to differentiate yourself beyond the CFP, and the CFA is becoming a more popular and recognizable designation to do so from the investment side.


Ultimately, if you’re early in your career and can manage to acquire an MBA from a great institution, we’d recommend doing that first. There are some clients who will require you to have both an MBA and a CFA to even be considered for the opportunity to work with them. After that, by a certain point later in your career, ideally before the 7 or 8 year mark, you’ll want to make sure that you have your CFA well underway; otherwise, certain doors just will not open up for you.

If you’d like to learn more about our active open positions, schedule a consultation, or are looking for search expertise, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you.

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