Why MBAs don't get top marks

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It used to be that having an MBA qualification was a fast track to working your way up the corporate ladder. Not any more.

These days, recruiters tell us an MBA's still nice to have on your CV, but it's just part of the overall mix that investment banks are looking for - and other qualifications such as a CFA are often just as desirable for senior financial positions.

"Having an MBA is not automatically required these days, and CFAs have taken over in areas such as equities, while a commerce/law degree is also a desirable for entry level into investment banking," says John Coles, managing director of Coles Christie & Associates.

The Australian Graduate School of Management and the Melbourne Business School at the University of Melbourne still rank among Australia's - and Asia's - most prestigious MBA learning centres.

Anthony Ayers, principal consultant at Chandler Heath Executive Recruitment, says these MBA streams are well regarded in investment banks, although MBAs from INSEAD, London Business School, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia are also rated.

"MBAs are emphasised more in the US than Australia in the banking sector, while the CFA is often regarded as a useful alternative, particularly in fund management, equities analysis and other strategy roles," Ayers says.

Michael Markiewicz, principal of Carmichael Fisher, concurs and notes that finding the best-quality person with the right skills and experience is still paramount.

"My view is that it's better to do an MBA earlier in your career than later. You can't buy yourself up the corporate ladder with an MBA. If you leave it too late, it puts you out of the market for a year, so you need to do it at the right time."

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