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Valyooo (33.49)

MS Finance vs MBA vs Neither



July 09, 2011 – Comments (17)

WHich one is right for me?

I will admit I don't know a ton about either.  I know that MBA's are directed towards teaching you management skills and leadership skills.  To me that sounds like a bunch of BS (not a bachelor of science).  I am sure that they do teach you this but 1) I bet a decent part of leadership is inannate   2) Leading one company is probably much different than leading another.

What I want out of it: I am currently a personal banker.  So far so good.  I don't want to be doing this forever though. I want more authority, more responsibility, I want something that requires more brain power, and I want more money.  I want to be a portfolio manager at some point in time, once I do more learning and feel I am ready for it down the road.

MS in anything business I guess....I just figured finance would be the best, because I like banking too.  Economics is probably too broad and accounting is good but I don't want to be an accountant, so finance wins by process of elimination.

Also, I want to learn calculus.  My calculus teachers in college barely spoke English so I never learned it well.  I could teach it to my self though.


MS seems more attractive to me because 1) Less expensive  2) Less time consuming. I want to be done with school already, especially when I am working full time it will be tough to have it go on for long.

I know education is in a bubble.  I just don't know how to get where I want to be without it.  I know it is stupid that the degree means more than what you know and your experience, but thats how the system is, so that is how I have to approach it.

I would like to hear some thoughts, thanks.


17 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 09, 2011 at 12:56 PM, TheDumbMoney (67.35) wrote:

I have no real advice, but it sounds like to me you want to be a Chartered Financial Analyst.  

 Or, you just want to keep learning about stocks, write a blog, and try to get hired somewhere.  To do what you really want to do, you do not need a degree.  You are super-smart.  Have you read The Big Short?  That's not what it's about, obviously, but it describes how a guy named Michael Burry was a doctor writing a stock-picking blog, and he was really good, and Joel Greenblatt was reading his blog and eventually staked him to millions of dollars to manage.  Burry ended up being one of the guys who made millions by realizing it was a great idea to short all the subprime CDOs in 2005-2006.  Read that book if you haven't.

Or, just send a letter to some place like Bridgepoint in Los Angeles, cogently explaining why you want to work there.  These guys do not give a sh!t about degrees.  They give a sh!t about people who pick stocks and other things that make money.

My two cents. 

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#2) On July 09, 2011 at 1:24 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

 I want more authority, more responsibility, I want something that requires more brain power, and I want more money.  

Move to a larger city with many multi-national corporations.  If you want to manage and move up in some company, then play the game and get a MS in Finance.  Try not to go deep in debt to get there.  

Meet tons of people and talk to them.   Take notes of who they are where they have been and who else they know.  People I thought were complete losers are some of the most successful people I know. These notes will be invaluable as you use these contacts to move up later.  Take special notes of the brilliant, the motivated and the connected.  

It truly is who you know not what you know in management.  Believe me there are tons of "dumb" managers in the corporate world. With each step up the ladder tell your manager what you want.  Don't expect them to read your mind.  Tell them how you will make their life better.  Hopefully, you work for a mover and shaker if not then it will be a bumpy road of lateral moves or layoffs.  

Your generation is defined by electronic communication, but business is still done by talking to people (note that I am typing as I admonish your generation :) )   Your skills in verbal communication will take you far.  

Spend less time here and go make some contacts.

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#3) On July 09, 2011 at 1:27 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

Also, if you don't have a clue act like you do.  Most people want to  follow they will talk behind your back as they follow you, but they will still follow.  Just don't lead them astray :)

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#4) On July 09, 2011 at 1:38 PM, HarryCaraysGhost (86.76) wrote:

I don't have any advice other than absorb the information and make your decision while in a quiet state of meditation.

Hey valy I left a comment on your last blog, I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

Thanks D.T.F I've got jury duty next week and needed a book to bring along. The Big Short it is.

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#5) On July 09, 2011 at 1:50 PM, TheDumbMoney (67.35) wrote:

It's awesome.  The Big Short is a must-read for anyone remotely interested in finance, Wall Street, and the financial crisis.

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#6) On July 09, 2011 at 2:58 PM, Munchies101 (87.29) wrote:

This is dependent on a few things. What was your undergrad major? Do you want a general education or a specialized education? Do you want to completely switch fields?

An MBA is a broad major that allows you to relate to other sectors of the business world. It will give you the tools to look at things from a higher view. An MBA teaches you how to interact with other sectors of the business, which can be valuable. I’ll tell you this from experience, the marketing department has a completely different view of the corporation then the accounting department does, and an MBA in either department will help bridge that gap.

An MS is going to be a very specialized major that will get you ready for high end finance work, such as portfolio management. So if you are looking to get into this type of work, it might be worthwhile to look at this major.

I would say an MBA is more worthwhile out of the two because it is relatable to many different fields while the MS is only relatable to one (see disclosure). With the economy the way it is, it seems worthwhile to get a broad major that allows you apply to the most jobs possible. Again, it matters what your career goals are and which school you go to.

 It really matters what your undergrad major is as well. If you were a finance major, you should either get the MS or get an MBA with a different concentration.  If you were not finance, I would personally get the MBA with a concentration in finance. Another option is a concentration in Accounting and then you will have the credentials to sit for you CPA (again, see disclosure).

On a side note, one thing you should know about either of these majors is they won’t necessarily get you a job, but they qualify you for a job. Good luck with your decision, it’s always a tough one.

 Disclosure: I’m a CPA applying for business school in 1 year.


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#7) On July 09, 2011 at 5:53 PM, ElCid16 (95.45) wrote:

Study for the GMAT.  

Take the GMAT.  

Get a 730+, go to the top 20 MBA program that gives you a scholarship.  If you have excellent credentials, you might get away with getting a scholarship with a 700+ GMAT.  Excellent credentials are (including but not limited to) a bachelors from an Ivy, a 3.7 GPA from a public Ivy, a bachelors in engineering, or a strong military record as an officer - preferably with a degree from one of the academies.  

An MBA will open many more doors than an MS in finance.  I had no clue about the opportunities that existed for MBAs until about a semester into my program.  I wish I actually knew more about the potential opportunities before I started my program.  Just make sure you get an MBA that has a finance emphasis if that's what you really want to do.

Many people knock MBAs, but that's primarily due to ignorance.  If you put in the effort, an MBA from a good to great program will be possibly  the best thing you can do for your career.

Once upon a time, I said I was going to start blogging about my MBA program here on CAPS.  Maybe I should finally get around to it. 

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#8) On July 09, 2011 at 6:32 PM, ChrisGraley (28.50) wrote:

You really need to look at the classes that are available for the particular school that you are going to. Most employers would hire you with either degree, but the classes that you take will determine what you can accomplish with it. Try to focus the electives toward what you want.

 As far as teaching yourself calculus 

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#9) On July 09, 2011 at 7:35 PM, ElCid16 (95.45) wrote:

#8 provides good advice, but in terms of selecting the right MBA program, classes are merely one variable of the equation.  Most top tier MBA programs will offer you whatever you desire - finance, marketing, mgmt/consulting, entrenpreneurship - at a pretty high level.  As a result, I'd say the curriculum should not be your number one factor for determing a program.

 The school I'm attending doesn't exactly have a particular curriculum that we're known for, yet we placed interns at JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte, Nomura, Hedge Funds, AT&T, GE, Google, Coke, Pepsi, AmEx, Adobe...we even have a guy doing distressed debt in Turkey and another guy doing investment analysis in Africa.  If you get into a top tier program, you'll be able to do what you want to do as long as you put forth the effort.

I'd actually put rank, scholarship money, career services, and class size ahead of the particular curriculum that a school (subjectively) specializes in.  I think rank and scholarship money speak for themselves, but in terms of class size, the larger the class size, the better.  (Most) people accepted into top tier MBA programs are top notch people.  As a result, you'll end up learning an equal amount from your classmates as from your professors.  

I realize I'm trying hard to sell an MBA, but I've already done the MS route, and I feel of the two, the MBA will ultimately be much more worthwhile.

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#10) On July 09, 2011 at 11:18 PM, Valyooo (33.49) wrote:


For reasons I cant recall right now (I can recall some, but thats neithere here nor there) I think 2012 will be bad for stocks and the global economy.  Also, I was in Hawaii when you posted your blog "let him soil himself" or whatever it was called...hilarious, I never got to comment on it.

So far, I like dumberthanafool's suggestion best so far.  I hadn't even considered CFA.  I like it because I can study on my own time, and I have a lot of obligations on my plate as it is. I also like the blog idea.  I will make my own website in a year or so, after I get my CFA, and after I have a little more experience.  Thanks for the book suggesstion, I will read it in the next few months (I already have about 20 books to red)

Elcid, I got a 3.15 from temple university, mostly because i was very lazy my first two years.  Nothing to write home about.  What are you trying to do that you need an MS and MBA?

Chris, I love the Khan academy...I really wonder how he has the time to do it.  That is one smart guy. I was thinking of buying the book "Calculus" by Michael Spivak.  I heard it is the best calculus book out there...should I get a book too or do you think Khan will be enough?

Another thing to keep in mind is that 1) I cannot stop working, period, I can't afford to go to school and not work.  So I need something reasonable to do when I am already working 45 hours a week + 12.5 hours of commute total. (1 hour 15 minutes each way x 2 times a day x 5 days a week). On top of that i have a girlfriend who is moving in tomorrow and she is new to NYC so she has no friends here now so I have to entertain her. I am lso going to be heading a fundraising committee for various causes, I weight train (although I have been slacking in the last 2 months) and I want to take up muay thai again.  Plus I keep up with the stock market and I make plenty of time to read.

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#11) On July 09, 2011 at 11:21 PM, Valyooo (33.49) wrote:

Damn it, you have to have 48 months of qualified work experience to become a CFA...I have only been working 1 week.  I have to find out what qualified is...I have been working for 6 years but at delis, useless jobs at law firms, etc.  Never a career.

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#12) On July 09, 2011 at 11:29 PM, Valyooo (33.49) wrote:

I was also wondering how I can learn more about banking.  I know about different banks (which are healthier than others, which management is better), I know how to read financial statements, I know the concept of banking, money multiplier, financial assetts, leverage, capital adequacy ratios.  But I feel like I must be missing something.  I don't feel like I am an expert at banking, and I would like to be since I work at one so it should be reasonable for me to know to try to move up the ladder internally....what else should I learn about?

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#13) On July 09, 2011 at 11:52 PM, ChrisGraley (28.50) wrote:

It's not fair for me to answer since I didn't read the book, but a fair answer may be to try Khan first and then read the table of contents in the book and see if addresses topics that Khan didn't.

I know it's hard in NYC to find decent affordable real estate, but you really have to try to cut that commute time down if you can.  Your health is important and so are the causes that you support. You are young, so I shrug to suggest this at your age but you need to find some ways to multi-task. Can you move close enough to work to jog a couple of times a week to supplement your other healthy choices. Would it close enough to meet your GF for lunch? If it were me, I would allow your GF time to get settled before your make a time commitment on another degree, but in the mean-time you could fit in something like MIT's open courseware (specifically the sloan school of management). Not only can you get a jumpstart when you do get to commit to another degree, the courseware is abundent enough to help you make a better choice between the MBA and MS.

Since you are in the banking industry, and in NYC, I would check the MBA programs at NYU and Cornell. For the MS, I would look at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper school of business. Banks and Wall Street firms love to hire out of those 3 schools.

I hope that all of this helps. 


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#14) On July 10, 2011 at 12:02 AM, Valyooo (33.49) wrote:

Thanks for all of the advice.  I am not committing to anything yet until she settles, excactly, but she will be going for her masters and PhD in something related to biology soon, so then she will be busy too.

I like Brooklyn more than the city.  I think the city is a ripoff.  Plus if I get another job it will be silly to keep relocating.  The reason I don't mind the commute is because I try to read 10-20 hours a week.  I am the first stop on my subway, so I always get a seat, so I can always read for the entire commute...I don't feel it is wasted time since I am reading anyway, know what I mean?

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#15) On July 10, 2011 at 12:34 AM, ChrisGraley (28.50) wrote:

:) Yep, you're already multi-tasking.

Just don't over-due the multi-tasking thing. Relaxation and time without stress is under-valued at your age. 

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#16) On July 10, 2011 at 1:02 AM, Valyooo (33.49) wrote:

Thats a good point.  I just feel like I need catching up to do.  I spent most of my life as a lazy kid.  I never had much money but i didnt have to work hard. I cheated my way through high school and played a lot of video games. About 2 years ago this started to change, and I really started busting my hump probably in January 2010.  So even though I am only 21 I just feel like I am behind.

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#17) On July 10, 2011 at 2:03 AM, ChrisGraley (28.50) wrote:

Nothing wrong with that. Just try to keep it all in perspective. I had a similar enlightenment at a little younger age and some of my biggest regrets were not taking a little more time to smell the roses.

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