MBA vs. CA – which is better?

Here’s an interesting article that discusses why an MBA is better than a CA. The article is from India but I think a lot of it is transferrable to Canada. Not that I agree with the author in any way – in fact, she is completely and utterly wrong in every available aspect.

Her main reason is that MBAs rise to CEO, whereas CAs rise to CFO.

The reason is simple: being CEO is about vision and leadership. This would require you — at times — to take a leap of faith, even when the numbers are against you. For example, you diversify into a new area of business. This may mean investing a lot of money, literally burning cash in the initial phase. It may look very bad on the balance sheet for a while, but there is a gameplan and eventually it pays off.

The author must, therefore, be contending that leadership and vision are teachable quantities. How else would all MBAs be blessed with such traits but through the always arduous path of study through Masters programs?

Apparently case based study in grad school will endow one with foresight and the courage to use it, but self-directed case based study under the CA program teaches one to look only to the numbers and the immediate effect on the balance sheet.

This is wrong. In any case I’ve written, you have to argue both sides to every issue and reach a reasonable conclusion, keeping the needs of the client first and foremost in mind.

Weighing qualitative and quantitative considerations are critical to writing a competent, well-rounded case response. Keeping the company’s strategy and critical success factors in mind will guide your response and frame your recommendations.

The truth is you can’t look at the letters after one’s name to determine how far they will go in their career. It’s an individual thing. Key is what one does with the credentials after they’ve earned them.

15 thoughts on “MBA vs. CA – which is better?

  1. [warning – most UFE-jargon-liad comment EVER]

    Agreed, it really all does boil down to the person & the author used a bizarre one-sided focus to criticize CAs.

    I mean, the idea that a CFO can’t transition to CEO is beyond silly – it’s absurd and contradicted by documented facts.

    Of course, we have the “Canadian experience” to draw upon – I’m sure Indians may have different experience in their country compared to ours which make those observations more valid over there than they would be here. I was bemused to wander through some of the other conversations/chats on that site – I hope people clean up their typing when writing normally as compared to the level of precision grammar seen in chat discussions!

    Cultural sensitivity aside, (they’re talking about the ICAI) there are some real howlers in there, “CAs are trained to look at the eye of the fish.” Pervasive Qualities anyone?

    Thank you.

    Talk about MBAs having some edge with “soft skills” with respect to communication is also funny. Try and pass the UFE without being able to express yourself clearly and concisely. Good luck, because you’ll need it.

    I love the repeated use of the phrase “premier institutes” too. It smacks of academic snobbery and over time I’m finding it progressively funnier. GET OVER YOURSELVES.


    It doesn’t end there – go to the comments thread, at the bottom of the second page there’s a comment which scores a pyrrhic victory in its defense of Indian CAs by claiming that it’s not their fault that their soft skills are weak – they come from middle-class and lower families while MBAs come from already rich families. While in our Canadian eyes that can look like a weird way to defend yourself, it comes out as a strong barb against stereotypical privileged silver-spoon kids in MBA programs.

    That’s probably where cultural sensitivity has to creep back in – and with haste!

    It’s really interesting to see what kind of concerns apply to people in other cultures – you really would rarely or never get into such a discussion in Canada – at least not in this area. Wow.

  2. Wow indeed. That was a really long comment! That’s the sort of thing you turn into a post on your own blog with a trackback to this one! :)

  3. Yeah, but as usual, laziness trumphed conventional wisdom or efficiency… or whatever it is you would call engaging in making your own posting. Plus, I try and keep ACS as jargon free as possible. Sorry for ‘polluting’…. ;)

  4. Kudos on using “Pyrrhic victory” in the original comment – actually had to look that one up in Wikipedia!

  5. LOL, excellent. And a sign that I’ve got to get you interested in more computer wargames. ;)

    Ironically enough, I was on Wiki too, to make sure I had the right spelling!

    Speaking of wargames, I have a copy of Company of Heroes on pre-order (it was on sale!), and it’s scheduled to arrive on Sept 14.


  6. CA is for number crunchers, MBA is for those who want to boss around the number crunchers. Friend of mine told me they are running a Boys versus Girls event for the Capital Markets. Might be a good place to make new contacts and network. Check them out at”
    “Heard WCM and BRIEFCASE LIVE is hosting a business case event on the TTC on April 7. Chair of the TTC, councilor Adam Giambrone will be there as a judge. Sounds like a fun event, I’m probably going to go

  7. You CAs are such a losers u can jus crip bout us MBAs nothin much u can do……….. Ha Ha

  8. The value proposition for MBA needs to be reconfigured to avoid projecting MBA exclusively as cutting people out to become business leaders as this has the effect of MBA graduates being snubbed by insecure managers as aspirising to become CEOs. Business leadership is just but one aspect of the makeup of the MBA programme. The programme arms students with conceptual and analytical know-how on a spectrum of businesses , making them well-suited to function as business analysts and management consultants in such areas as strategic and operations management and project finance. Of course the ability to carry out all these functions suit the profile of the ideal CEO, but this should not be the sole ingredient of the value proposition for the degree (Yoran Mogaladi, South Africa)

  9. I liked your article, especially this line

    The truth is you can’t look at the letters after one’s name to determine how far they will go in their career. It’s an individual thing. Key is what one does with the credentials after they’ve earned them.

    I am a CMA. I thought about doing a CA but in the end I chose CMA because I wanted to go right into the private sector. I also felt the CMA course focused more on project and management accounting, which is what I wanted to focus my career on (not that the CA program didn’t). Most business educations focus on the exact same things any way.

    Inner drive is what propels one’s career. I hate to say it but there are some dumb people out there with degrees and designations.


    Accounting Money Blog

  10. Respected sir,
    I am studying class 12(ISC) and i want to know which course is better for my career it will be MBA OR CA and i am a average student in maths.For the entrance we have to appear for CAT exams so i need your suggestion.

  11. @Nishanth, you have not provided sufficient info for any genius to advise you on which one is better for your career. But suffice it to say that MBA is for generalists whereas CA (and CFA) is for specialists. If you aspire for a career in financial management, CA or CFA, and if u need to be effective from administrative and leadership perspectives, then take MBA.

  12. I loved the comments quite a bit. I firmly believe that CA is better than MBA. For one thing I don’t see any unemployed CA’s but you do see quite a few unemployed MBA’s. I am neither an MBA nor a CA but I came onto the blog to make a decision as to what I should do and I am definitely leaning towards CA. One thing is for certain don’t waste your time doing CMA, I just recently completed my CMA. I did my CMA right after my undergraduate i figure having a CMA would boost my job opportunities but having the designation without any accouning experience is good as having no designation. Btw does anyone k ow how to go about doing a CA after completing CMA.

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