Hi all - your advice is much appreciated. I'm considering applying next Fall (2012) or possibly waiting until the following year (see below).
26 years old, Caucasian male.
GMAT: 710 [92%] (48Q [82%] , ~40V [92%] (give or take, can't exactly remember at the moment) and 6.0 AWA
GPA: 3.54 from a small, mid-tier private college, Finance major, Accounting minor, closer to a 3.75-3.8 in last two years. Full academic scholarship, liberal arts honors program, business honors society.
Work Experience: ~3 years thus far, ~4 years by the time I apply next year (unless I wait another year). 2.5 years as a Consultant at a software company catering to the investment industry, including two promotions and specialty work in buy-side quantitative analysis. All were client-facing positions, primarily with investment management firms (this was much more of a finance job than an IT/software job).
.5 years (would be >1 year by the time I apply) in my current role in equity research at a mid-size sell-side firm with a good reputation. Differentiating spin - I joined as the first associate on a brand new sector coverage launch for the firm - akin to building a business, added responsibility, etc.
Additional/EC: CFA Level III candidate, hoping to receive charter next summer, in time for applications
co-founded my college's first Investment Club while in UG, held a leadership role
Limited post-graduate EC, but I'm currently working on that (I plan on gaining meaningful involvement in two particular organizations within the next month).
Target Schools: 1) Booth 2) CBS 3) Sloan 4) Haas 5) Ross 6) Stern. Outside of those I would consider Johnson, Fuqua, Anderson.
Goal: Finance concentration, possibly to pursue IM/HF post-MBA, but also interested in tech/media entrepreneurship (my research coverage is in the media industry, plus I have the prior work experience at a software firm)
My perceived strengths: success in my professional career thus far. I had a very good reputation at my past firm and I know I can get at least one good Rec to show for it. Solid academic record, proven quantitative ability (between CFA, work experience, GMAT). Demonstrated dedication to career pursuits (CFA).
My concerns: my stats/background aren't impressive enough. My GPA/GMAT are about average for my target schools, but I feel as though I'm lacking a differentiating factor that would overcome this. I'm working on developing a more well-rounded story (my ECs are currently limited). An unfortunate dilemma is that much of my time post-UG has by necessity been spent obtaining the CFA designation, which I hear holds little value in the MBA admissions process. If things go according to plan I'll be able to add some ECs soon, giving me ~ 1 year of involvement with these organizations before applying next fall.
Question: Do I stand a realistic chance at these schools, and would I stand a greater chance if I spent another year "building my story"? This would involve a longer history of post-UG EC involvement, an additional year or work experience in research, totaling ~5 years of work experience post-UG by time of application.
I would prefer applying next year as I would rather get my MBA finished sooner rather than later, but if my chances would increase at a top-10 school if I wait an additional year then I'd be willing to do so.
Thanks very much; I apologize if this was too long-winded.