MBA or CPA: Are businesses increasingly preferring one over the other?

March 28, 2012
MBA or CPA: Are businesses increasingly preferring one over the other?

The finance field provides an abundance of opportunities to those just getting started with their careers, many of whom face the question of whether a CPA, MBA or both would be most critical toward determining their professional future.

Generally, a CPA is required for any job that requires in-depth analysis of financial statements, from a financial analyst right up to a CFO or controller. An MBA is more beneficial for those interested in investment banking and venture capital, along with any job that requires long-term financial planning.

According to an article late last year on, many businesses are increasingly hiring financial professionals that have an eye toward strategic planning and big picture thinking – how investments relate to the company in general.

“The ‘cat’s meow’…is a CPA who then gets an MBA,” according to the article. “Such a person gets grounded in the discipline needed to implement and monitor financial controls, policies, and procedures, and then adds the ability to advise on ‘grayer’ areas such as what projects should be funded, whether something should be acquired, built, or bought and whether products or services should be extended or eliminated.”

Should more companies slash accounting jobs, organizations will need to replace these individuals with financial professionals who may be better equipped to think strategically about the future of a company.

When building financial teams, CFOs should be sure they are surrounded with high-quality subordinates who can help assess past performance while also designing and refining a long-term financial vision. To find these individuals, businesses may consider hiring finance executives search firms with experiencing filling jobs in finance. Finance recruiters can help reduce the workload for CFOs, whose time is often consumed responding to numerous other stakeholders.

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