Should I choose a CFA® charter or an MBA for a career in fintech?

26 Aug 2018

A CFA® charter could be way better than an MBA… for now.

 

This is a very popular question among university students, fresh graduates and working professionals who have just started their careers.

 

Sure, both finance-related certifications seem to rival each other in terms of pay and desirability by employers, but for fintech hopefuls, its important to assess how well that subject is taught in a particular MBA school.

 

Why fintech?

 

The digital era just keeps on gaining steam. And right now, hundreds of industries across the world – from media to programmatics to food delivery – are all changing rapidly thanks to new digital inventions.

 

To keep up, people working across these industries have had to adapt to these changes. And finance is no exception, with trends like robot advisors, cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence.

 

It looks like fintech is here to stay for good. And for those looking to get prime jobs and build careers at the forefront of finance, becoming a fintech expert is definitely the way to go.

 

 

A fintech education: CFA® charter or MBA?

 

We’ve compared a CFA® charter with an MBA before, but that was before CFA Institute announced that it’s adding a bunch of new content about fintech so financial analysts are fluent and familiar with how these technologies work.

 

What’s unusual, though, is that MBA programmes across the world haven’t done so yet.

 

A survey of the world’s top 100 MBA courses asked graduates to rank the 18 subjects they learnt in order of how well these subjects were taught. Unsurprisingly, Finance, as a subject, came in top. But Fintech courses, where available, scored a measly 16th place. That’s a solid bottom 3 ranking.

 

 

But why is the MBA curriculum lagging behind?

 

In an interview with the Financial Times, NYU Stern finance professor David Yermack said that “most business schools don’t understand fintech, so many simply steer clear of it.”

 

Importantly, though, he added that “fintech is finance — and the old finance will be replaced.

 

Seems like the fintech track among CFA® charterholders is already gaining great momentum. Among the top 6 non-Finance careers for charterholders is a fintech role, with employers like Mastercard, American Express and Barclaysoffering plum jobs to CFA® charterholders who possess expertise in Big Data”.

 

Banks are also increasingly hiring programmers and coders, and experts had warned that people who want a career in finance must be fluent in new technologies or they’re going to have a hard time keeping their job in the future.

 

 

A CFA® charter seems to be the better choice (right now)

 

There’s been some chatter that MBA programme are wising up, and a couple of schools have already started ramping up their fintech curriculum. The problem is that this is unique to these particular schools, whereas the CFA® Program exam curriculum is implemented for every student.

 

Even charterholders are required to educate themselves on the new topics to keep their designation, through compulsory lessons and seminars for which they clock in a set number of hours every year.

 

So here’s our conclusion: for those looking to break into the fintech field now, a CFA® charter is still the safest bet to becoming an expert – at least, until the rest of the MBA programmes shape up.

 

 

Are you convinced that a CFA® charter is better for a fintech career? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

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