Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Blank stare, sweaty palms and a heartbeat that could be heard across the globe. Exaggeration? Yes but the pressure was quite accurate. As we age, that dreaded question frequents us as much as wrinkles and white hair. The former being more dreaded or at least I would hope so.
Replying, “I don’t know” isn’t sufficient nor does it scream motivated or anything remotely close. Everyone wants to be somewhere or something but the road towards that opportune thing or place is the tricky part.
I’m contemplating my next step. I already have my bachelor degrees in finance and rather than sit idly and wait to be hired I thought I should pursue further education in the meantime. With that in mind, my choices are narrowed down to either obtaining a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Both quite similar yet different in their own rights.
An MBA is the more traditional and familiar route. Widely known and available. On average it takes two years to complete, the cost can vary from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands and is practically available through any educational medium, be it a brick and mortar university or an online Institute. So widely available, someone once said jokingly to me, “nowadays you can enter a grocery store and come out with an MBA.” Humorous as it may have been there was some truth to it. An MBA has become similar to buying a shoe or phone or whatever the “it” thing may be right now. It’s all about the brand. The brand or in this case the school is what illustrates exclusivity. Many people may have it but where they obtained their degree may play a crucial part on how far along it will get them in their career.
We then come to the CFA. The CFA is a 3 part exam each taken once per year. It is only offered by the CFA Institute and is based on self-learning. Each exam is around 2000 dirhams and you are given course material to prepare for the exam. The statistics are quite uninviting. Only half of the candidates pass each exam and only 10% of the candidates that started complete the process. With those stats, it gives even the most ambitious some self-doubt.
I’m leaning towards the CFA, I think there is something about the road less traveled that provides more opportunity. In either case though knowledge is never useless and thus there is something to gain with any route taken.