When in his third year in an engineering college, Swapnil Gore realised chemical engineering was not the career he wanted to pursue. Despite being an engineering graduate, his fascination for finance led him to pursue an MBA in finance at IIM Rohtak.
Before joining the institute, he started preparing for chartered financial analyst (CFA) credentials. “For me, CFA was a risky exam because I had no prior commerce background. All the subjects in the curriculum of CFA have very high relevance in the corporate world. Subjects like ethics and financial reporting and analysis, which also have weightage in the syllabus, have paramount importance in the life of any professional. So, I want to reiterate that for anyone desirous of making a career in finance, this exam (CFA) is extremely important,” Gore adds.
Another engineering graduate and an IIM Rohtak student, Suresh Varma, says, “The postgraduate programme does have a ‘perfect’ syllabus but the only shortcoming is that the students are not allotted adequate time to dig deeper and master all subjects. CFA filled this gap for me.”
While a commerce student at any IIM is likely to find subjects like accounting and microeconomics to be somewhat easier, students from different backgrounds are on the same footing when it comes to other subjects, irrespective of their educational qualifications.
“Being a commerce graduate would help people interested in finance and they stand a better chance to be shortlisted by finance companies; but people from engineering background and interested in finance, to hone their skills and gain a competitive edge, go for certifications like CFA. This, according to me, might help them as it shows their commitment to potential recruiters, thereby increasing their chances of getting shortlisted and improving their knowledge,” says IIM Kozhikode alumnus Rajul Mangal.
As Aman Sonthalia, a first- year student at IIM Udaipur with a background in commerce says, “It is a personal choice to pursue an additional degree, but there’s no compulsion to excel (in the subject) during the two years of MBA. It’s always helpful to have an additional certification despite one’s background, as it definitely leverages our career options if we know something more than our set course.”
Indeed so. Recruiters show an inclination to hire MBA graduates for finance roles where they have a strong orientation. It is rare to have a CFO who is not a chartered accountant, although the industry has a few CFOs who are not CAs but have a strong MBA background.
“Today’s MBAs feel that the level of finance inputs they receive in the institutes are not sufficient to manage the increasing demands of the world of commerce. While their management skills are honed to a fine level, some of them feel that if they have stronger finance strength, they have an edge that gets them the top jobs and a seat at the top in times to come. Some traditional roles in finance will always have CAs, and that is never going to be disputed. We will prefer an MBA with additional qualification in commerce over others. For this is the edge that turns the wheels of management of commerce,” says SV Nathan, chief talent officer, Deloitte India.