Wealth certification trumps MBA

Aw-shucks. One of the most influential advisors in North America is arguing that the MBA has now been eclipsed by one of the wealth industry’s top designations.

A finance professor with a proven track record of setting graduates up for top-flight positions is extolling the CFA as the greatest thing since the MBA -- and it’s cheaper.

Chartered financial analyst credentials, Johns Hopkins finance professor Steve Hanke told Business Insider recently, are "more rigorous" and "much better." MBAs, meanwhile, do less financial modelling than even the professor’s undergrad finance students, suggesting business school grads are woefully prepared for a career in finance.

The CFA is narrow, but it's very rigorous and tough,” he said, “and that combination, for an analyst anyway, is a winner."

It also, according to Hanke, trumps the MBA.That thinking may confuse apples with oranges; namely, a designation with a degree. Still the professor/financial advisor, whose students remarkably all land top-tier positions, is speaking to the real value of industry certifications in helping lead financial services.

But the CFA has and continues to be relatively low on the priority list of a wealth industry dominated by CFPs. That isn’t to say the two designations compete.

“Different professional qualifications are there for different reasons,” FPSC CEO Cary List told WealthProfessional.ca. “They teach different things, different sets of competencies, different professions and different jobs that will result. The CFA and CFP are very complementary to each other.”

That said, part of the reason for Hanke’s bullishness on the CFA centres on costs.

Obtaining a CFA instead of an MBA, he argues, could save a finance student thousands of dollars in tuition not to mention delivering more in starting salary once they’ve got the designation in hand.