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6 top asset management executives who got an MBA but skipped the CFA

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Does an MBA pay off for asset management professionals more than the CFA?

Becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder is an impressive feat. Only 42% of the 51,134 candidates who took the Level I exam in June 2015 and 43% of the 52,315 candidates that took it in December passed.

Some say that passing all three levels of CFA exams is crucial for success in asset management, while others call it more of a feather in your cap than a prerequisite for a successful career. Some in this latter camp tout an MBA as more essential.

Looking at some of the heaviest hitters in the industry, here are top asset management executives who decided to get an MBA but not the CFA.

William McNabb III, Vanguard

Bill McNabb is the chairman and CEO of Vanguard, based in Malvern, Penn. The firm boasts more than $3 trillion in global assets under management as of December 31, 2015. McNabb also serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors.

Before taking on his current role, he led each of Vanguard’s client-facing business divisions, most recently as managing director of the firm’s institutional and international businesses.

McNabb got his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Ronald O’Hanley, State Street Global Advisors

Ronald O’Hanley is the president and CEO of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the Boston-based investment management arm of State Street Corp. with approximately $2.4 trillion in AUM. He is also a member of the management committee and leads the firm’s corporate strategy function.

Prior to joining SSGA, O’Hanley was the president of asset management and corporate services and a member of the executive committee at Fidelity Investments. Before that, he was the president and CEO of BNY Mellon Asset Management. He began his career at McKinsey & Co. and was the founder of its global investment management practice and co-founder/co-leader of the firm’s North American personal financial services practice.

O’Hanley got his MBA from Harvard University.

Larry Fink, BlackRock

Larry Fink is the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, which had $4.6 trillion under management as of December 31, 2015, making it the largest asset management firm in the world by that measure. He leads the New York-based firm’s global executive committee.

Prior to founding BlackRock, Fink was a managing director and a member of the management committee at The First Boston Corp. He was one of the first mortgage-backed securities traders on Wall Street, served as the co-head of the taxable fixed income division, started the financial futures and options department and lead the mortgage and real estate products group at First Boston.

Fink got his MBA at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Douglas Hodge, Pimco

Douglas Hodge is a managing director, executive committee member and the CEO of the Pacific Investment Management Company (Pimco), a Newport Beach, Calif.-based Allianz Group subsidiary that has $1.5 trillion under management as of March 31, 2016.

Previously, he led the Asia-Pacific region at Pimco and later served as the COO; he was promoted again after Bill Gross’s well-publicized departure from the firm (incidentally, Gross is a CFA charterholder). Hodge is also an executive committee member and a board member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).

Hodge got his MBA from Harvard.

Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates

Ray Dalio is the chairman and chief investment officer at Bridgewater Associates, a Westport, Conn.-based global macro investment firm with approximately $150bn in AUM that claims to be the world’s largest hedge fund. He started Bridgewater in 1975 out of a New York City apartment.

Dalio got his MBA from Harvard.

William Ackman, Pershing Square Capital Management

Bill Ackman is the CEO and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, a New York-based SEC registered investment adviser founded in 2003. The firm is known as an activist investor and a concentrated fundamental long/short value shop.

Prior to founding Pershing Square, Ackman co-founded Gotham Partners Management Co., an investment manager of public and private equity hedge fund portfolios. He began his career in real estate investment banking at Ackman Brothers & Singer.

Ackman got his MBA from, you guessed it, Harvard.

Photo credit: zimmytws/iStock/Thinkstock

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