Need serious advice on whether to take MFE or MFIN or None

I am 27 this year and graduated from NUS majoring in finance 2 years ago. I joined teaching 2 years ago as I thought teaching is my calling. However, I was dead wrong and I hope to come back to the financial industry after my teaching bond end next year.

I passed CFA Level 1,2,3 and got a 750 GMAT score. I am also taking frm 1 and 2 this may. At the same time, I am hoping to enlist into Singapore Management University (SMU) MS finance program.

Reality struck me today. I read through many ads in wallstreetoasis and realized that none of the jobs need MAF. Most of them need people to know financial modelling or have a phd. I started to have doubts on why am I applying to MAF? According to the MAF website, the MAF program closely follows the CFA syllabus. I started wondering whether am I stupid to do this course since I pass my CFA L3. I started to liken it to a CFA prep course by providers like kaplan.

I started to explore other options like NUS MFE (NTU MFE is a stretch for me IMO). I realized it may be a good program as it teaches financial modelling and a lot of Maths which would be well-received in the financial industry. However, I started to worry whether can I cope with the program. I have zero Maths background and the hardest Quant course I did is research methods in finance which I got a A. I really have no confidence taking this course and I don't know whether my profile is good enough for the course.

If I take MAF, I think I can be in the top few % of the cohort as I am quite good in those they are going to teach in the course. If I am in MFE, I may struggle and end up with poor grades as I know there are some phd in Maths taking the course.

I was thinking of 3 options.
1) Take MAF. On the hindsight, I was always thinking why LSE MAF is so popular despite being called a MAF. People was commenting MAF can only get into a sales job
2) Take MFE
3) Do not take any of them and complete my ACCA (I completed 6 papers). The reason why I took ACCA is for backup just in case I cannot get a finance job. I heard many horror stories about non-finance people quitting their jobs and in the end cannot find a job in finance and end up doing admin. I was thinking do I wait until I get into the finance industry before I take a msc? But it will be more or less the same 2 schools as my country is small and I do not wish to relocate because of family.
4)I happen to see this MA. Look interesting and I was guessing that it may not be very hard to get in as no one talks about it. Will this help as I see that I see some relevant courses here. In my undergrad life, I played a lot and did not perform up to expectation (2nd upper). I was wondering if I work real hard, can I use this course to go into phd study? And after phd I go into finance industry? Is it wishful thinking?

I really hope people here can give me some life changing advices. Please pardon my ignorance if I sound stupid somewhere.
Hi Maisatomai

Here's my humble opinion, take it for what it worth. There's too much overlap between the CFA and a MS in finance, you want to diversify your portfolio of skills not learn the CAPM once again, dont waste your ressources.

I think the very best thing for you to do given your indecisiveness is to score an junior job for a year; this would provide you with first line experience to learn what role fits your personally better, you'll earn money rather than paying for a degree that will barely increase your chances at finding a great job and it might even increase your chances of getting in the top programs a year from now.

Correct me if I'm wrong but from my distant understanding the job market is better (err, not as horrible) in Singap and HK, what is your take on this?


double shot
Definitely don't take the SMU MAF given your background, it doesn't add any value.

I know a number of people in the NTU MFE program and with your profile, you actually have a very good chance of gaining admission. You can even exempt a module or two with your CFA results. But you cannot sound this indecisive during the interview.

The MSSAE at NUS has moved away from government subsidy to a full course fee of 28K SGD, likely to be in line with SMU's Economics program. That's something to consider about the quality of the program, when no changes to the structure was made but it now costs about 4 times more for locals. If you're taking this to get a PhD to get into finance, I think that's just a really bad idea. Take the PhD if the subject is your passion, not for riches.
AlexandreB: Thanks for your advice. I am not very sure about Singapore's hiring as I am not in the industry. However, I realised in Singapore they like to hire engineering grad as they can do modelling.

But when the economy is bad, the government launched initiatives to help the local. They sponsor companies to give paid internship with graduates. I tried once to apply to a company (SGX) and without any interview or what, they asked me to go to work (but pay is only S$800).

Jackcoke: You are really very familiar with the NUS MSSAE. I also notice that NUS no longer has government subsidy for local. Ok, I think I will drop the idea of a phd. I think I will only apply to a school, which is NUS MFE. I will probably not apply to NTU as I have very bad experience with this school. In your opinion, do you think NUS MFE is easier to get into NTU MFE?


double shot
I'm not sure, but I've heard unsubstantiated anecdotes that the NUS cohort has a higher proportion of students already in the financial sector compared to NTU's. The NTU MFE also recently started a direct admission program for undergraduates from their own physical sciences division. This hints at their greater willingness to admit students fresh out of college, but considering the pedigree of the NTU physical sciences division (i.e. not good), this may also dilute the quality of their class. If you're interested in these programs, you should write to them and get more details, since their published class statistics is rather vague.

Out of curiosity, what was your bad experience with NTU?
I went to NTU for my teaching course (PGDE) and found the environment really bad. The business library is very smelly and the NTU seems to have no life. This is a sharp contrast with my undergrad NUS or SMU, which even has a bar.

After graduating from NTU, I promised myself not to come to this school again.


Quant Headhunter
If you want "life changing" advice that's any good, I'm afraid all I have is a method for working out how to change it, not a path that will lead you to where you want to be.

As a headhunter I do a reasonable amount of career advice and a central point is helping the candidate work out what he is better at than other people. Automatically from this process I must advise you not to do an MFE or the equivalent. To prosper in that direction you must beat people who have proven ability in maths, the risk of you not doing that is just too high to make it a rational option.

That's negative feedback and I apologise for that, so the thing you need to do next is work out the specific areas in which you feel that most people who might compete against you.

Then look at jobs and careers that match your talents. Unless you're lucky that much will be less than perfect, so look at the gaps and try to work out which gaps can be bridged with an acceptable amount of effort, time and cost.

I suspect your best option might be an MBA, but please don't start from the position of asking "what course can I take ?", but assemble your set of bridges and try to find a course that will build as many of them as possible.

Note that above I said "jobs", not "finance jobs", or any particular line of work. One set of skills you've developed is presentation and standing in front of an audience, maybe you should work in some sort of sales role, maybe not, I don't know you so think of that as an example of how wide your search should be, not a suggestion.
DominiConnor: Hi that very good advice. Thanks for your precious time in replying. Think I will have to reconsider taking MFE afterall. So doing very well in MFin beats doing average in MFE?

I think I cannot do my MBA as I am so junior in my teaching job. I am not even a supervisor in the job yet (you need at least 6 years to be a supervisor)
DominiConnor: Hi that very good advice. Thanks for your precious time in replying. Think I will have to reconsider taking MFE afterall. So doing very well in MFin beats doing average in MFE?

By MFin do you mean Masters in finance or Masters in Math Finance? Domini is right. Both MFE and MathFinance are flooded with applicants proficient in calculus, probability, stochastic, linear algebra, coding, ... As far as Masters in Finance well, you've seen everyone's opinion on that.

What does you being junior in your job have to do with taking an MBA? It seems to me as well that this would be your best option.