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CFA Vs MBA: Here’s How You Can Study Both At The Same Time

CFA or MBA? Through her MBA in Investment Management, Alice Sany studied both and landed a top job in investment banking

CFA vs MBA? It’s a question that many financial professionals face as they develop their career.

Every year, more than 240,000 people take a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, making it one of the most popular finance certificates in the world. Covering topics from corporate finance to quantitative techniques, the CFA program teaches the skills required to work in investment. 

To break into this highly competitive industry and succeed, though, you might also benefit from a broader set of skills, offered by qualifications like the MBA.

For Alice Sany, choosing a program that brought MBA and CFA together was the ideal solution. 

After studying an MBA in Investment Management at the John Molson School of Business, she was able to transition from direct brokerage to an investment banking role. 


A tailored CFA course

According to Rahul Ravi, associate professor, chair of the department of finance, and director of the Goodman Institute of Investment Management at John Molson, the MBA in Investment Management is tailored to students who, like Alice, want a career in the world of investment. 

“A general MBA does not equip you with all the tools you need for Investment Management,” he notes. 

The three year program prepares students to write Levels I, II and III of the CFA exams, while offering a selection of management courses such as marketing and organizational behavior. 

“It forces you to be more versatile,” Rahul explains. “Working in investment, you need to be able to switch gears from dealing with numbers and calculations to soft skills like negotiation.” 

Alice, who graduated from the Goodman Institute in 2019, used the program to transition into her dream industry: investment banking. Soon after graduating, she secured an analyst role with Canaccord Genuity.

Prior to the MBA, Alice worked with HSBC, as an assistant manager in the direct brokerage department. Although she enjoyed the work, she found herself drawn to the deep analysis and client-facing aspects of investment banking.

Knowing how competitive the sector can be, she felt that the dual qualification would give her the best possible chance of securing a role. 

This fact, coupled with the knowledge that many banks hire directly from business schools, confirmed her decision to attend an on-campus program rather than studying the CFA alone.


A flexible program

Despite being conducted on-campus rather than self-taught, Alice was impressed with her MBA’s flexibility. The course-load counts as a full-time program, but it’s delivered on a part-time basis.

With classes Wednesday evenings and Saturdays, students can continue to work full-time as they study. This was important for Alice, who didn’t want to lose out on years’ experience while she studied. 

The fact that classes were offered in both Montreal and Toronto was also appealing. “It’s useful because I often travelled to Toronto for work,” she explains. “Toronto is a huge financial market, so it’s good to be able to study there.” 


A practical curriculum

Traditionally, the CFA program is undertaken by professionals who are already in the investment industry, but John Molson’s Investment Management program accepts students without work experience.

This is because the program is designed to act as a stepping stone, supporting students into the world of investment. Along with a case study based curriculum, students can also access career counsellors, who can help them work out a feasible career plan.

“Pretty much every aspect of preparing for your career is covered, from interviews to salary negotiation,” Rahul reveals.

Students in the program also benefit from an outstanding alumni network and tight-knit community. Founded in 2001, the Goodman Institute boasts alumni in senior positions who regularly share advice and career opportunities with their alma mater.  


Building a post CFA-career

This practical focus helped Alice to build the experience she needed to begin her investment banking career, she says. 

“The case studies we looked at were really outstanding,” she notes, “and doing financial models and performing analyses are things that I apply in my work every day.”

Along with these technical abilities, the program also helped Alice and her peers to develop the soft skills necessary for a successful investing career. 

Rahul notes that these vital skills wouldn’t be developed through a CFA alone. “Although students in the Investment Management MBA are building a career in finance, if they’re not able to speak to a person they won’t go far. You need to have those soft skills,” he emphasises. 

For others hoping to enter the capital market, Alice recommends the program highly. 

“I don’t think I would have ever been able to enter the industry and get the job that I wanted without the MBA,” she says. “It opens a lot of opportunities if you’re interested in Investment Management.”

Student Reviews

Concordia University: John Molson School of Business

Anthony

Verified

25/11/2023

On Campus

Educational advancement

My time at Concordia College has been set apart by huge self-awareness. The steady instructors and staff have assisted me with fostering my abilities and information. The college offers a scope of administrations and extracurricular exercises, giving various open doors to understudies to reach out. In general, my involvement with Concordia has been positive and improving.

Student

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16/11/2023

On Campus

My growth

"My time at Concordia University has been marked by significant personal growth. The supportive teachers and staff have helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. The university offers a range of services and extracurricular activities, providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved. Overall, my experience at Concordia has been positive and enriching.

Ashley

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31/10/2023

On Campus

Communications and Culture Studies

I am currently enrolled in my first year in the Communication and Culture studies program. I have met so many incredible people and have already acquired skills that I will serve me in my professional career. The courses are dynamic, engaging and intellectually stimulating. I am happy to be a student at this university and look forward to the next 2 years here!

Student

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Significant advancements

Having attended Concordia University, I can confidently state that I have seen significant advancements in my skills. The faculty and staff demonstrate great thoughtfulness and provide effective support. Additionally, the university offers an abundance of student clubs and services.

Arman

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Master of Quality Systems Engineering

I completed my Master's in Quality Systems Engineering at Concordia University, where I gained a comprehensive understanding of quality management principles and methodologies. The program provided a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, including coursework in statistical process control, Six Sigma, and Lean principles. I engaged in hands-on projects addressing real-world quality challenges, collaborated with experienced faculty, and conducted independent research. This experience has equipped me with the skills and expertise needed to contribute effectively to organizations seeking to enhance their quality control processes and achieve operational excellence.

Amber Lee

Verified

6/09/2023

On Campus

Awesome

The Communication program at Concordia University will prepare you for the future. The program is divided in two blocks: one more theoretical, from which you learn the concept of communications through the perspective of philosophy, history and social studies; another completely hands-on in which you learn how to produce media choosing from three streams; sound, moving images, intermedia. What I love about the communication program at Concordia is that the teachers are clever, up to date, and exited about putting the future in the hands of students. Not only there is so much to learn in the communication program, but there are also so many opportunities!

Student

Verified

3/09/2023

On Campus

Concordia is best

Concordia university is one of the top listed universities not just in Canada but worldwide. The most amazing thing about this university is it is a standalone English speaking university in Montreal that allows non francophone students to enrol and study efficiently. My program is beautifully designed with access to high quality classrooms and faculty members that are available every time to attend your queries. The huge campus of the University including the library allows students to indulge in group work and research programs. The administration staff is super supportive and polite in their conversations. I have had the most amazing experience studying at Concordia so far.

Student

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5/07/2023

On Campus

Entrepreneurship and Marketing

I had the privilege of being a part of Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing program, and it was an outstanding experience. The program's curriculum was well-designed, providing a perfect balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical application. The faculty members were highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an engaging learning environment. The program's emphasis on industry connections and experiential learning opened doors to valuable internships and co-op opportunities. The resources and facilities dedicated to the program were top-notch, allowing me to explore my passion and excel in my studies. I am grateful for the real-world skills and industry connections I gained through the program. Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing truly prepared me for a successful career in the business world. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a transformative educational experience.

Student

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25/06/2023

Blended

Integrated Student Life

Concordia University has done a fantastic job at providing on-campus activities and workshops for students to feel connected and less lonely in stressful times. My program, Human Relations highlights this perfectly as a human relations student to be able to see the effects these workshops have on our beings and our mental and physical health as well. The student Life at Concordia has allowed our school to feel more like a community than a school.