CPA exam vs. Series 7

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Jan 7, 2008 10:24 pm

Hello All,



Has anyone here taken the CPA exam?  I am no longer in the broker
world - could not bring in the bank so now I'm a corporate financial
analyst for a company with roughly $5 billion market cap.  I am
planning to take the CPA exam this summer to pad my resume and was
wondering how it compares to the Series 7 because that's really the
only big test I've taken besides the GMAT.  I'm assuming the CPA
is about a million times more difficult, right?  The 7 was
basically a cake walk.  Thanks for your thoughts.

Jan 7, 2008 10:52 pm

When I took the CPA exam it was all 4 sections at a time.  As you prob know you can take them one at a time, which should make them easier to swallow.  To answer your question, yes the CPA exam was quite a bit harder.

Jan 8, 2008 10:05 am
Scorpio:

Hello All,



Has anyone here taken the CPA exam?  I am no longer in the broker
world - could not bring in the bank so now I'm a corporate financial
analyst for a company with roughly $5 billion market cap.  I am
planning to take the CPA exam this summer to pad my resume and was
wondering how it compares to the Series 7 because that's really the
only big test I've taken besides the GMAT.  I'm assuming the CPA
is about a million times more difficult, right?  The 7 was
basically a cake walk.  Thanks for your thoughts.



Do as you wish, but padding your resume is hardly a worthy goal.  Why don't you first decide what it is exactly that you want to do and then pursue training/designations that would really help you achieve that goal?

For example, I'm sure no one in your current department/field cares that you once passed the Series 7, as it has little relevance to the skills needed in your current job.  Obtaining your CPA will be similar, assuming you want to stay where you are - nice, but who cares?  Now if you got your CFA, that would really count for something if you want to become a serious analyst or portfolio manager.

Or if you wish to focus on accounting or taxes, either at a public tax firm or perhaps inside a corporation in a specialist role, by all means get the CPA.  If not, why bother?

Give it some thought.  Channel your efforts and ambition and you'll likely end up being both happier and more successful.  Determine your goal first, THEN develop a plan to reach them.  Otherwise you'll be stuck in the 'ready, fire, aim' mode and do yourself no favors ... even if your resume is 'padded.'

Good luck, my friend!

Jan 8, 2008 7:43 pm

Thanks for the responses.  I actually do think its relevant. 
In order to do corporate finance you need to understand accounting, and
the CPA will signal potential decision makers that I know what I'm
talking about.  I am still fairly young and because of the broker
experiment I am now behind other people my age in terms of practical
work experience, so I thought this would help give me an edge.  I
would also like to get the CFA but its going to take me longer (3
years).  The CPA is a quick designation that I can knock out with
relative ease.  (hopefully!)

Jan 9, 2008 10:10 am

The CPA is an important designation, no matter how you slice it.  Good luck on it.

Jan 9, 2008 11:46 am

Passing the CPA exam in many states does not make one a CPA.    In most states, I believe that an accounting degree is a prerequisite.   Additionally, most states also have a work experience requirement.  I don't think that being a financial analyst will cut it for work experience.

Jan 10, 2008 9:49 am
Scorpio:

Thanks for the responses.  I actually do think its relevant.  In order to do corporate finance you need to understand accounting, and the CPA will signal potential decision makers that I know what I'm talking about.  I am still fairly young and because of the broker experiment I am now behind other people my age in terms of practical work experience, so I thought this would help give me an edge.  I would also like to get the CFA but its going to take me longer (3 years).  The CPA is a quick designation that I can knock out with relative ease.  (hopefully!)

 
Yeah, and everyone who passes the series 7 knows what their talking about too!! I work with a few CPA's that would be surprised to hear that CPA is now a "quick designation"
Jan 10, 2008 11:57 am
Scorpio:

Thanks for the responses.  I actually do think its relevant. 
In order to do corporate finance you need to understand accounting, and
the CPA will signal potential decision makers that I know what I'm
talking about. 



That's your opinion.  As a former CFO I can tell you when I interviewed folks with advanced credentials in one area applying for a position in another area, it was a red flag to me.  Especially on the corporate side, most hiring officers prefer people who seem to have made a decision about what they want to do and stay consistent - not people who never seem to stick at one thing long enough to become really accomplished at it. 

Does everyone share my view?  No.  Do many?  You bet.  The key point is that your premise - that a CPA or any advanced credential - is always a plus on your resume is simply an opinion, and not one universally shared by those you wish to work for.   Case in point: how many corporate CEOs have (or had) a CPA?  Coincidence?

Don't skim the surface of professional life - dig deeper.  Get your CPA if you want it, but examine your motives and act accordingly.

Jan 10, 2008 6:34 pm
Scorpio:

Thanks for the responses.  I actually do think its relevant.  In order to do corporate finance you need to understand accounting, and the CPA will signal potential decision makers that I know what I'm talking about.  I am still fairly young and because of the broker experiment I am now behind other people my age in terms of practical work experience, so I thought this would help give me an edge.  I would also like to get the CFA but its going to take me longer (3 years).  The CPA is a quick designation that I can knock out with relative ease.  (hopefully!)

 
Never heard that before about the CPA.  CPA requirements require a bachelor or masters degree in accounting or a minimum number of upper division accounting classes along with a bachelor or master.  I think it's between 20-30 credits of upper division classes.  Once that is completed you must work directly under the supervision of a CPA for 1 yr (in my state).  Either you've already met the other qualifications or don't fully understand the requirements if you think it is quick and easy.
Jan 10, 2008 9:10 pm

Ok I guess I went overboard with the "quick and "easy".  Obviously
that is not the case.  But relatively speaking, I would consider
it easy if I can just study hard for 6 months and pass.  I have an
MBA in finance as well as a bachelor's in accounting so I think I
fulfill the other credentials. 



Morphius - I don't understand why you think a CPA designation is only
for people that do accounting for individuals.  It's not. 
"Public Accounting" usually refers to the art of performing accounting
for publicly traded companies, not "performing accounting for the
public".  Many financial analysts will also get it nowadays, just
to show that they have the background knowledge to accurately evaluate
a company.  Obviously it would not be relevant for CEO's, but I'm
sure plenty of them earned a CPA somewhere along the way. 

Jan 11, 2008 9:42 am
"Public Accounting" usually refers to the art of performing accounting for publicly traded companies
 
Are you sure that you have an accounting degree?  What you said above is not even close to being accurate.  Privately held companies and non-profits and individuals also need public accountants.  A public accountant is one whose services are available to the public as opposed to one who is employed on a full-time basis for a company.  One who works for a company may be a CPA, but they are not engaged in public accounting.
 
Again, I repeat myself that in most states, in order to get a CPA, one must have an accounting degree, pass the CPA exam, and have appropriate work experience.  Being a broker and a financial analyst will most likely not count as appropriate work experience.  In other words, you can pass your CPA exam, but you will still not be a CPA.  Does your state require work experience?
Jan 11, 2008 9:48 am
Scorpio:

Thanks for the responses.  I actually do think its relevant.  In order to do corporate finance you need to understand accounting, and the CPA will signal potential decision makers that I know what I'm talking about.  I am still fairly young and because of the broker experiment I am now behind other people my age in terms of practical work experience, so I thought this would help give me an edge.  I would also like to get the CFA but its going to take me longer (3 years).  The CPA is a quick designation that I can knock out with relative ease.  (hopefully!)

 
This doesn't actually make you a CPA.  It is simply one of the qualifications.  Without doing yuor 3 years (or whatever the current reqs are), all you can do is say you passed the exam.  It's like passing the S7 but never becoming a regrep.  Doesn't really provide you with much.  To be honest, it lookds sort of strange to put on your resume that you never actually BECAME a CPA, but passed the exam.  In my previous life, I used to hire finance people, and occassionaly I would get the "resume padder" that just liked to collect degrees and pass exams.  Doesn't tell you too much.
Jan 11, 2008 9:55 am
Scorpio:

Morphius - I don't understand why you think a CPA designation is only for people that do accounting for individuals.  It's not.  "Public Accounting" usually refers to the art of performing accounting for publicly traded companies, not "performing accounting for the public".  Many financial analysts will also get it nowadays, just to show that they have the background knowledge to accurately evaluate a company.  Obviously it would not be relevant for CEO's, but I'm sure plenty of them earned a CPA somewhere along the way. 

 
Again, based on what you are saying you are going to do, you would NOT have the credential.  You would have passed the exam, and fulfilled (possibly) the education requirements.  You must also work directly under a CPA for a set number of years (3 in my state).  You must also do the required CE each year.  I guess my point is that unless you want to work IN accounting, or in a high-level corproate finance job, I don't really see why YOU should take the CPA exam.  It's obviously a very prestigious designation due to it's requirements, but it's like me going and getting my JD, just so my clients think I was smart enough to pass the Bar. 
Jan 11, 2008 10:13 am
Scorpio:

Morphius - I don't understand why you think a CPA designation is only
for people that do accounting for individuals.  It's not. 
"Public Accounting" usually refers to the art of performing accounting
for publicly traded companies, not "performing accounting for the
public".  Many financial analysts will also get it nowadays, just
to show that they have the background knowledge to accurately evaluate
a company.  Obviously it would not be relevant for CEO's, but I'm
sure plenty of them earned a CPA somewhere along the way. 



Your understanding of what public accounting constitutes is simply wrong, as is your subsequent assumptions that are built on this false premise.  

If you showed any real interest in learning the truth rather than
trying to bluff and argue when you clearly don't know of whence you
speak, we might be more inclined to help you.  Anon has already explained how your definition of public accounting is flat out wrong, so I'll not waste any more time on this. 

I can see your mind is made up, and you don't wish to be bothered with the facts.  If you want to live your life based on wrong information, do as you wish.   Take the CPA exam.  Have a blast. 

Jun 18, 2012 9:13 pm

Did you ever take the cpa exam?