Thursday, October 18, 2012

CPA or MBA: Overcoming the Dilemma


A few weeks ago, a student walked up to me and said: “Mwalimu (teacher) I’m confused”.

I did not understand what she meant so she continued: “A CPA or MBA programme? 

You see, I am good in math but I am not sure my analytical skills are sufficient to pursue financial analysis. I also do not think I would like to get into banking.

Will I have to be an accountant my entire professional life?”


Well… Yes or No?

It depends on what you want to be.

If you like auditing and reviewing financial statements but not banking, then Certified Public Accountant (CPA) training would be a good choice. On the other hand, consulting or top management in financial organisations would be the path to take for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student.

The corporate world is currently hiring more MBAs than CPAs in top management positions because no matter what business you are in, from medium sized family-owned to multi-million industries, an MBA can boost managerial skills.

These programmes provide students with well-rounded global real case studies, giving them an overview of many facets of a business. MBAs play a key role in investment banking too and will additionally give you some leverage if you are thinking of changing careers.

CPAs on the other hand command a lot of respect from their peers. Just like an MBA graduate, they can use their training to diversify and climb the corporate ladder. But CPAs will have competitive advantage in executive positions.

Basically a CPA has the authority to sign and audit reports because the programme specifically trains them in accounting, auditing and taxation. CPA is the preferred credential for financial management positions. It leans towards more technical work, with focus on quantifiable academics relating particularly to accounting principles and core ethics—with a reasonably decent amount of business education.

MBA is the opposite. It provides intensive business and organisational structure with emphasis on hands-on training in various departments.

If you still cannot make up your mind about the different benefits of either programmes, then pursue them both.

This will make you more valuable in the corporate world. These are two highly compatible courses and the classes are quite similar which will save you some time while expanding your professional options. It is up to the different organisations to pick what skills they want for top financial positions. But I prefer an MBA this graduate will fit into multiple areas of the enterprise— from an analytical, financial and business point of view.

The leadership and management skills instilled at the MBA School could work well for businesses wanting to grow. MBAs can effectively organise and combine information from multiple sources to solve complex problems and make well informed judgments. They should be equipped with data analysis and high-level integrated reasoning skills to successfully steer business.

MBAs can work in almost every industry— from technology to products and services, healthcare or pharmaceuticals.

With the real case studies offered by this programme, graduates are familiar with practical management situations and strategies. They will bring to the table expertise from different areas as well as knowledge of how to apply these skills to a long-term business plan.

CPA also boasts numerous benefits.
The new hire will keep track of and monitor financial records for your business – but so will a number accounting software that is easy to use, and will provide accurate monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or annual financial statements and or records, depending on how it is configured.

They would also make a great hire when it comes to keeping track and working around taxation laws — but you would have to know their qualifications and find out about their experience and expertise.

Whether you want to go back to school or change your career, or if you are in business or top management and trying to recruit, the choice is yours. But remember that the payoff from the choice you make will always be in the results.

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