An MBA Or CFA, Which To Choose?
Being a hedge fund CFA (Certified Financial Analyst) means one has a strong and broad knowledge of finance and all investment principals. For example, all charter holders must pass the same three tests creating an unbiased test environment.
It's a feather in one's cap to use the CFA designation since most hiring managers and investors favor this knowledge in their investment communities. This acceptance gives the hedge fund cfa designation tremendous creditability. The creditability comes with the candidate to the firm which employees the CFA holder and which in turn will develop the firm’s creditability in the minds of clients and potential investors.
When comparing the value of a CFA as opposed to an MBA, while working in the Hedge Fund environment, the CFA is preferred. When referencing a top 20 program or a few select regional MBA programs the comparative value of the two is just about even. From an academic perspective there are only a select few MBA programs which provide students with a finance and investment foundation as strong as the CFA. And the CFA holder has a variety of employment options anywhere in the world.
While the hedge fund cfa designation is extremely valuable, a strong alumni network is what a Hedge Fund needs to be successful. If you were to calculate the dollar cost of both paths there is no question that the CFA is much more valuable. If you take into consideration the two years of networking at a top 20 MBA program compared to the countless hours of studying for the CFA after working a 12 hour plus day the MBA would probably be considered the less strenuous path in the minds of anyone who has received their CFA while working.
As a suggestion, if you are privileged to be accepted into a top tier MBA program, it may be prudent to start the CFA while still in school. And obviously, if you prefer to skip the MBA route, you could go straight for the valued CFA as this will make you a short list candidate on the majority of searches in the Hedge Fund space for investment individuals.