CFA – chartered financial analyst – qualifications “dominate” the MBA degree when it comes to jobs in the financial sector, according to a leading business school’s finance professor.
Steven Young, head of the accounting and finance department at Lancaster University Management School, said that the CFA is becoming increasingly important for specific roles in the financial sector, including fund management and portfolio analysis.
There has been a huge increase in the number of CFA charter holders, as demand in the Asia Pacific area has helped double the figure in a decade to more than 100,000 today – two thirds of which are in the US.
Business schools have also been trying to incorporate CFA learning into their post-graduate degree programs. A group of top-ranking schools have achieved accreditation from the CFA, after embedding a significant percentage of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) into their courses.
More than 30 US universities are listed as CFA program partners, with programs including Cornell’s MBA program Michigan Ross’ MBA program pencilled in.
LUMS recently launched a specialist Master’s program which prepares students for CFA Level I, with the help of Fitch Learning, an external specialist in financial education.
Prof Steven said that postgraduate students see a CFA qualification as a “significant advantage” on their CV for finance jobs.
He said that the CFA requires specific experience relating to the financial sector and the type of job that the candidate will be doing. “The MBA is a more general business experience, which is good in many respects but for a career in finance it may be seen as being too broad,” Prof Steven said.
He added: “A candidate with an MBA and CFA would dominate a candidate with just one [of the qualifications].”
He also said that the CFA is increasingly important for overseas students who come to UK business schools. “They’re already at a disadvantage competing with UK graduates, and so the CFA qualification or partial qualification is becoming a signal for overseas students to indicate [that they are] more comparable with a UK graduate,” he said.
Prof Steven said that most of the financial institutions are now putting their junior employees through CFA training.
“For some roles the CFA is probably less important, but for roles involved around fund management, mergers and acquisitions and portfolio analysis, the CFA is becoming really important. I would say it dominates the MBA in the finance sector,” he added.