The question about what next to go for was thrown to Jarushub.com. The person involved wanted to know if he should go for MSc or MBA since he got offers for both. Enjoy the question and the correspondingly insightful answer.

Hi Jarus,

I have been following you on Nairaland for a while now and I’ve noticed how you are able to make insightful contributions to topics that relate to career and travel and as such I’ve decided to send you this e-mail to seek your opinion on a decision I am about to take.

First of all, I’m torn between doing an MSc or an MBA (I have offers for both from schools in the UK).

Having spent 6 years in the insurance industry, I seriously want to branch out of the finance industry to do something more “cerebral” and practical. I studied economics as a first degree and over time, I have come to realize that I am a very analytical person. I like rational debates on business and can constructively analyse business models. I have a deep interest in consulting; and I have started reading several books on strategy (including Blue Ocean) to broaden my scope on strategy and it’s application in business….here lies my desire to do the MBA; I really intend to equip myself with all that I need to get into a good consulting firm as soon as I’m done with my MBA..

Meanwhile, I got the MBA from University of Bradford (I will be glad if you give me your honest opinion on this school’s MBA programme)

Secondly, I’ll also like to ask, how important is the choice of University in graduate prospects?

I got the offer for Finance and Investment from University of Kent and it is ranked at about 32nd position in the UK.

Honestly, I’m not too keen on this course but the school is a good one so I think the graduate prospects will be high. However, I really do not have much knowledge in Finance and Investment and I think that getting a good job on completion of the MSc might not be as easy as getting one with an MBA. Though I would also like to do investment banking; the chances of getting into an IB firm (after working for 6yrs) will be…..? I really don’t know.

So I’ll like your opinion on these two knots I have on my hands now; General MBA (to change career path to consulting) or an MSc in Investment and Finance (to get into a good Investment Banking firm) taking into consideration; the two schools that have given me offers.

Help a brother….

Hoping to hear from you soon.

Christian…

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JARUSHUB.COM MY OPINION

Hello Christian,

Thanks for your kind words.

When I received your email, I tried pushing my long planned idea of setting up a multi-disciplinary team of young eggheads for this blog to give diverse opinions on this. I have contacted my trusted friends, Michael Taiwo and co, to serve on that team. But in order not to keep you waiting, due to the time it takes to hatch plans like that, I will go solo on this one and provide my candid take. I will also invite a couple of ‘eggheads’ to give their take on this.

Here we go:

Let’s consider the facts and the prospects of each divide in your dilemma:

MBA/consulting: You mentioned being analytical and participating in constructive analysis. That’s great. You can polish that with MBA. One of the golden advice career experts give is to make sure one tailors his career towards what one has almost natural flair for. It makes the work easy. I hated Accounting in secondary school through university and started ICAN out of boredom during my service year. I work as an accountant today, but I struggled in my early years as an accountant. Reason – no passion! Although I forced myself to like accounting, to earn my pay, my natural passion still lies in things like this. Hence, my opening this blog, after many years of actively engaging in discussions like this on Nairaland.

With passion for contructively analysing business models, you have a foot forward already. MBA can help you polish that. But it is not clear to me whether you intend to float your consulting outfit when you return or you plan to work in one. If you plan to work in one, knowing yourself as analytical may not be sufficient. You may have to scale recruitment process. There is a big hurdle here: experience? It is easier to move within an industry but quite difficult to cross, not even with MBA.

Msc/Investment Banking: What roles did you handle in your 6 years in the insurance industry? I ask because finance and insurance are not exactly mutually exclusive. After all, an insurance company has a finance team with finance analysts up to the CFO. But obviously, your role is core insurance (probably marketing) and not the support function of finance.

You want to be a finance person? I think professional qualification is what should first come to your mind before the thought of Msc or MBA. Putting together other facts of your case, particularly the bit on investment banking, I think the aspect of finance you meant is Corporate Finance – which is different from the core finance (accounts and financial reporting). Corporate finance is actually a branch of investment banking and it is highly interesting and lucrative (I had a few months stints there in 2007).

Narrowing your goal down to corporate finance means some professional qualifications like ICAN and ACCA are not exactly what you need. Unfortunately, the most relevant professional qualification for the branch of finance you have in mind is CFA (Certified Financial Analyst), which is one of the most dreaded finance professional exams. I will not advise you move near CFA for start, if not for anything, because of the resources (financial and time) required in passing it.

Msc Finance and investment offers you more familiarity with finance than MBA. I know a Medical Doctor that did Msc in International Securities, Investments and Banking from University of Reading, UK, and he is today a top class investment banker and Deputy CEO of one of Nigeria’s Top 10 investment banking institutions. If a medical doctor can cross to become an investment banking guru, it means, you with economics degree and insurance background, can become one more easily.

You can then think of CFA after the familiarity. CFA is 3 stages, but the good thing about it is that even if it just one stage that you have passed, it is a big boost for your CV. I have a number of friends that got decent offers with just CFA 2.

On school, not sure about rankings of universities, although I have a former colleague that just came back from Bradford with an MBA. Choice of university is definitely important. But Kent is no doubt highly recognised as well.

Chances of breaking into an IB firm after 6 years in insurance? Well, with a Msc as above and good standing in CFA, and you’ve got something great upstairs, you may not be turned down by, first Nigerian investment outfits like Vetiva, Greenwich, Merristem and co, and with experience from these places, you can aim the top-notch foreign big players as well.

VERDICT

In either case, there is the hurdle of no prior experience (in consulting or investment banking). But the good thing about MBA it still fits into broader functions than Msc Finance and Investment. So if consulting doesn’t turn out happening, you can spread your wings further. At the same time, MBA is becoming too ‘pure-wateric’, especially if not from Ivy league schools. Most people that do MBA have jobs already and hardly because of career diversion, but career advancement. If you can take the risk, Msc plus CFA seem more like it for me, if in your shoes.

But gird your loin, it may not be exactly rosy as theoretically espoused. I know people that returned with Msc too and still struggle for jobs here. But what’s not risky anyway? It’s a risk worth taking.

All the best, brother.

Jarus

 

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