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If you have ever wondered about either of the above choices, there is a good chance that you’re looking to advance your career and take it to the next level. There is obviously no clear one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma. Both the programmes are designed in a way to meet different needs, offer a varying range of career progressions and are distinctly unique. Hopefully the following comparison can clear some of the fog that’s surrounding this discussion:

Get more clarity by understanding your own needs

A little self-introspection goes a long way, and is often the best place to start organising your thoughts. Ask yourself basic questions like “What do I want to do when I finish?”, “Will the skills I learn contribute positively towards my career aspirations?”, “Will the time, money and effort I spend be worth it?” , “Where do I see myself in 5 years?”.

Understand what is beyond the abbreviations

The CFA and an MBA may have some overlapping content, but offer very distinct career paths. A CFA Charterholder is an expert in finance, which gives them the ability to move across finance related professions such as Investment Banking, Portfolio Management, Financial Consulting. These profiles require high attention to detail, rigorous practice and a deep understanding of advanced financial concepts to help make high-level decisions. 

An MBA explores different parts of a business, and helps you understand how they work together. If you are looking to absorb a broader set of skills, and advance your career in business and management related fields such as HR, Marketing and Operations, an MBA would be a more favourable choice. The best way to describe an MBA would be that it is a mile wide and a foot deep.

Ensure that you’re spending your resources in the right place

According to the CFA Institute, the average CFA student spends 322 hours preparing for each level of the exam. The time commitment for an MBA is significant as well, at 2 years for a full time programme and 3 years for a part time programme, all this is not even taking into account the amount of hours spent studying for the GMAT exam. The CFA is a more of an on-the-job type of qualification where a lot of the students are working in the day and preparing for the exams in evenings.

An MBA degree in the UAE could set you back by around  $30,000 - 50,000, whereas the CFA is more on the affordable side, costing a fraction of what an MBA does. Depending on the institute you choose to complete your study from, you can expect to pay a third of that.

Understand how you will be compensated

It is difficult to compare the return on investment on either of these, because the compensations for both depend on multiple factors like experience, location and job role. PayScale gives a general comparison between both qualifications and the results are very similar (Source: PayScale.com). The compensation you can expect from your job after your MBA varies greatly between business schools, as does their perceived quality. For instance, MBA from an Ivy League university is obviously considered much more valuable than one from your local university. On the other hand, the CFA Charter is the gold standard in the investment industry and is recognised equally around the world.

All of the comparing, contrasting and relating comes down to what you want out of your career. Do you see yourself being the go-to specialist in Financial Advisory? Or do you want to take a wider approach to your career? Which time and financial commitment is more suitable for you?

To understand how the CFA qualification can help you advance your career, set-up a free consultation with an experienced CFA Charterholder, call us at  +971 4 515 7200 or or fill in your details here and one of our consultants will be in touch with you soon.


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