Swati Panjwani is a Chartered Accountant with AIR 6 in CPT and AIR 45 in IPCC. She cleared all three levels of CA in the first attempt. She has cleared CFA level 1 and 2. Currently, she is pursuing an MBA from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and she interned with JPMC - Corporate and Investment Bank - Strategy role. We talked to her why she decided to do an MBA after having done 2 professional courses already and this is what she has to say!
Why did you decide to do an MBA after CA and CFA?
I took the decision of doing an MBA after completing CA and 2 levels of CFA as it stood in line with my professional and personal goals.
As from the professional growth point of view, I realised that an MBA would be a differentiator in getting challenging job opportunities and it opens up a lot of different career paths for me, as the job profiles for CA and CFA are somewhat restricted to the domain. When it comes to my personal growth perspective, MBA provided me with a wider scope of learning, especially great peer to peer learning opportunities. It also is helping me learn managerial skills such as problem-solving and soft skills like communicating ideas.
What is more enriching as a course? Why?
In my opinion, I would say an MBA is more enriching as a course. The reason for this is peer learning. CA and CFA are both in a way distance courses and one doesn’t interact with a lot of people during the course duration. Meanwhile, in an MBA course people from different academic backgrounds study and solve problems together. So it adds a lot to one’s perspective. Also, another reason is collaborative skills. Collaborative skills are extremely important today and MBA course is designed to focus on these skills. Therefore, I think these two interrelated reasons make the MBA a more enriching course
Why didn't you opt for a job after gaining 2 professional degrees?
I worked for 20 months before starting my MBA. I would say that very early in my career I was able to identify my development areas and wanted to work on those areas, therefore, I took a well thought of the decision to pursue an MBA. Now, looking back I think it was a good decision as it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.
What has an MBA added to your personality?
MBA has enriched me with a ‘never back down’ attitude, because of the way the program is structured, wherein one gets a mammoth amount of tasks which have to be managed in a limited time frame. So one has to work on their problem solving, time management, collaborative and other skills to get the work done efficiently. Getting work done instils a good amount of confidence in a person. I am almost half-way into completing the course and now when any work comes my way, I know I will be able to do it.
How would you compare the 3 courses- CA CFA MBA in finance? What differentiates them when all 3 focus somewhere on finance itself?
Although there is overlap amongst the three courses (basic financial concepts such as capital budgeting decision making, budgeting etc. are included in all three courses), all of the three have different focal points. CA is focused more on accounting and auditing, CFA focuses more on the financial knowledge and analytical skills, whereas MBA focuses more on business fundamentals and industry requirements.
How important do you think CFA is to charter one's way in the world of finance? Is it necessary?
Necessary? No. But beneficial? Certainly yes. It depends on case to case. CFA is specifically beneficial if one is working in BFSI.
It has become a trend amongst engineers who want to go for MBA finance to do CFA? How important and relevant do you think CFA is to engineers specifically?
There are two reasons why engineers choose to do CFA while pursuing MBA finance. The first one is to familiarize themselves with finance and learn more about subjects not covered in the MBA curriculum. The second reason is to build a profile which shows their inclination towards finance. According to me, CFA is a very well-structured course in finance and it can be done to enhance financial knowledge but as already mentioned earlier, CFA is more relevant to working professionals.
What advice would you like to give to future CFA aspirants?
CFA is a truly analytical course, which should be pursued by people working in the finance domain. It will tremendously increase one’s knowledge and accelerate their career growth.
Please comment on the ROI of all the 3 courses.
CA is a relatively cheap course, with investment under Rs. 1 lakh and an average package approximating Rs. 7.5 lakhs. CFA, on the other hand, costs approximately Rs. 2 lakhs (if all early registration discounts are taken) and since there is no direct recruitment platform for CFA profile, it is quite difficult to get a job based on CFA degree in India (based on my experience), however, if one is already working it provides a good boost to one’s profile. MBA, however, is a relatively expensive course with investment up to Rs. 20 lakhs and the average package also approximating Rs. 15-20 lakhs.
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