Tag Archives: Fotini Tolias

CFA or MFin? Why not both?

If you are currently studying for your CFA exam or are a charterholder, you may  wonder if you should consider completing a Master of Finance (MFin). To give you some perspective, we spoke to a number of our Rotman MFin grads who are also charterholders.

Tracy Chong, MFin ’16, CFA

Tracy Chong, MFin ’17, CFA

“While Rotman’s Master of Finance and the CFA both cover a wide range of finance topics, the MFin explores each area in much greater detail while the CFA is more focused on portfolio management.” Tracy Chong, CFA, MFin ‘17.

As Tracy points out, becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is key to certain positions within the financial sector, including portfolio management. However, the MFin will prepare you to go even further in your career. Having both is definitely an advantage, if you want to be a finance leader.

Michael Da Silva, MFin ’16, CFA

Michael Da Silva, MFin, CFA

Another recent grad, Michael Da Silva, CFA, MFin ’16, expands on this:

“Through the MFin program, you attain the technical skills needed to get an edge in any finance career—including investment banking, which is a challenging field to break into. In Heather-Anne Irwin’s Investment Banking course, you learn what it takes to be an investment banker when you produce your own M&A deal and pitch it to a panel of industry professionals.”

Omar Karim, MFin ’17, CFA

Omar Karim, MFin ’17, CFA

The practical skills learned through the MFin curriculum and the practical experience of your faculty and peers will help you take the theoretical knowledge gained during your CFA and apply it in your day-to-day. As Omar Karim, CFA, MFin ’17 says, “It is incredibly fulfilling to learn about bond theories in class one day and then apply them directly on the sales and trading floor the next day.”

Ashley Warburton, MFin ’17, CFA

Ashley Warburton, MFin ’17, CFA

Ashley Warburton, CFA, MFin ‘17 and Francois du Toit, CFA, MFin ‘16 both agreed that learning from practically-minded faculty was invaluable when exploring current events in financial markets. Ashley remembers, for example, learning about coco bonds in Fotini Tolias’ class and seeing them affect European banks balance sheets, which resulted in changes in their stock price this past February.

Ultimately, while the CFA may give you key foundational concepts to understand these events, it is in the MFin that you’ll get the deeper insights to interpret and understand the complex set of variables that impacted turns in financial markets.

Francois du Toit, MFin '16 , CFA

Francois du Toit, MFin, CFA

Without a doubt, together the CFA and the MFin will make you a strong candidate in the financial sector. In addition, if you are currently completing the CFA Level III exam and are thinking of applying to the MFin, you have the advantage of receiving a GMAT exemption, as you can automatically be considered for a conditional offer.


What are you waiting for? Put your CFA knowledge to the test, and contact us or apply now to become our next MFin candidate.

Theory in Practice Series: Master of Finance Part Three

What is the Rotman Master of Finance curriculum like? How do our working professional students and alumni take the theory they learn in the classroom and apply them to real situations in the workplace? In this final blog post of our 3-part series on the Rotman MFin curriculum, current student Jose Rivas gives his view of the program so far.


Jose Rivas, MFin '17, CPA, CGA, Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis Business, Operations, National Diabetes Trust

Jose Rivas, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis, Business Operations, National Diabetes Trust

Jose Rivas, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA
Current role: Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis, National Diabetes Trust
Role entering the program: Senior Finance Manager, National Diabetes Trust

The Theory:

In the Forecasting Risks and Opportunities class taught by Professor Tom McCurdy, we covered advanced methods to forecast and to assess risks in our financial models. In the Advanced Accounting class taught by Associate Professor Ramy Elitzur, we covered the use of statistical regressions to derive meaningful forecasting relationships.

The Application:

Although I didn’t use the exact forecasting models taught in the forecasting risk course (a mean reversion model), the methodology to develop a forecast and to assess model risk was meaningful as I was able to use the same techniques to create a production forecasting model. I then used the advanced accounting course material to assess the adequacy of the model (autocorrelation tests as well as the evaluation of the model’s parameters).

The end result was the creation of a forecasting model with robust documentation. After presenting my findings to my CFO and senior operations management group, I got buy-in to roll out, and to use it to forecast production, which was a deficient process in the past. Through this, we have drastically improved guidance and product planning nationally.

Breadth of Finance Knowledge

In terms of general capital markets knowledge, most people with my background and level of seniority have a soft understanding of capital markets. The Analysis of Fixed Income Markets class taught by Associate Professor Fotini Tolias gave me a much better understanding of debt products and their origination.

Certainly, the context of this course is more relevant to those who work for large firms. However, in gaining this type of knowledge, I have been able to open up conversations with senior management surrounding access to mid-markets, and to understand what financial institutions seek out of these deals.

Finance Career Bridge

All in all, my take on the Rotman MFin program is that it is not only about specific knowledge – it is also about our ability to expand what we’ve learned in creative applications beyond the classroom. The Rotman MFin program is excellent for those with a background similar to mine who want to change up their finance career path as the program truly advances your finance knowledge and bridges your knowledge or skill set gaps.


Interested to see how the Rotman Master of Finance program for working professionals can help you master your finance career in just 20-months? Learn more about the Rotman MFin program on our website, or contact us to see if the program is right for you.

Theory in Practice Series: Master of Finance

MFin Theory in Practice: Hank Liu, Rotman MFin '17, Senior Performance Analyst, Manulife Asset Management

Hank Liu, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, CFA II Candidate, Client On-boarding Manager, Manulife Asset Management

The latest financial theories with direct practical applications – this is what students can expect with the Master of Finance program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Every day, our globally renowned faculty and practitioners translate their latest research and experience in the finance field into the classroom.

Over 20-months, the Rotman MFin curriculum covers in-depth topics such as Risk Management and Financial Institutions, Applications of Derivative Products, Investment Banking, Applied Portfolio Management and more. In this first of a series of three blog posts on the Rotman MFin curriculum, current MFin student Hank Liu shares his experiences in a few of the courses to date, and what this means in his everyday work, and for his career.


Hank Liu, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, CFA II Candidate
Current role: Client On-boarding Manager, Manulife Asset Management
Role entering the program: Senior Analyst, Performance Measurement and Attribution, Manulife Asset Management

Professor Laurence Booth‘s Foundations of Finance course requires me to follow the market closely on a daily basis. Through this, I know more about what is happening around in the financial world, and this helps me better understand and predict our portfolio manager’s strategy. For instance, by closely following world news, I know when the U.S. treasury rate is expected to go up and would expect our U.S. fixed income PM to reduce our exposure to long duration securities.

Associate Professor Fotini Tolias‘ Analysis of Fixed Income Markets course is directly applicable to my work. I developed a much deeper understanding on all types of fixed income products. Part of my work is to analyze the performance, analytics, and attribution for our fixed income portfolios. By learning how to calculate average life, yield, duration, convexity, I developed an independent calculation tool/model for our team, and if there were any discrepancies on those characteristics, I have the confidence to validate them. Another example: there were some data issues with a “fix-to-floating” security held in our portfolio. As we covered it in class, I quickly figured out what caused the issues and suggested how to fix them.

Most importantly, these incredible courses offered by MFin program sharpened my expertise in financial world, and taught me how to speak the same language as professionals in other areas of finance. I now have a much better understanding of how other teams operate. For example, after taking the Forecasting Risks and Opportunities course taught by Professor Tom McCurdy, I am able discuss with the variable annuity team about their hedging strategies. The Corporate Finance and Valuation course taught by Adjunct Professor Heather-Anne Irwin was helpful for me to discuss the models developed by our finance project team.

I’m taking the MFin program at just “The Right Time”. As I am transitioning from accounting to investments, the MFin program is preparing me well for all the challenges that I will encounter in the future. Since I’m taking the MFin program as a working professional with a few years of work experience, rather than as a fresh undergraduate, I have a clear sense on “why I am taking the program”, “what I expect from the program”, and “what my plan is after the program”.


Interested in exploring the Rotman Master of Finance curriculum or want to see if the program is right for your finance career? Visit our Rotman MFin website or contact us for a chat.

Master of Finance: June 11-13, 2016 in review

What a busy couple of weeks at Rotman for our recently graduated Master of Finance class of 2016 and current MFin students! More than just in the classroom, our alumni, students, faculty and staff rubbed shoulders (and noisemakers) outside of school.

On June 11, 2016, we had our third annual friendly soccer match with Schulich’s and Smith’s MFin classes. Trophy goes to Smith this year. Well played!

The day after on June 12, we had our pre-convocation MFin reception where valedictorian Morgan Pampe gave a rousing and at times, emotional retrospective of the class over the past 20 months.

Finally, the big day! On June 13, the MFin class of 2016 officially became Rotman alumni.

Check out the photos below.

2016 Master of Finance Soccer Match

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Rotman Master of Finance Class of 2016 Convocation Reception

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Rotman Master of Finance Class of 2016 Convocation

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Classmates, friends, network for life

Network for life: Rotman MFins Jose Rivas, Wentao Jiang, Srijan Agrawal, Fotini Tolias (Academic Director), Michael Kristanto, Tony Zhuang, Tracy Chong, Christina Alexander, Chi Woong Hoh, Emile Givogue, Morgan Pampe

A fun night of connecting with Rotman classmates and friends (and winning a lot, apparently)! Master of Finance students at Charity Casino Night left to right: Jose Rivas, Wentao Jiang, Srijan Agrawal, Fotini Tolias (MFin Academic Director), Michael Kristanto, Tony Zhuang, Tracy Chong, Christina Alexander, Chi Woong Hoh, Emile Givogue, Morgan Pampe.

A network for life: that’s one of irreplaceable benefits that you can expect from being at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Classmates become lifelong friends who become the network that you can rely on throughout your career.

This March, the Graduate Business Council launched the inaugural Charity Casino Night, modelled after the Master of Finance program‘s traditional event. This year’s event brought together students, alumni, faculty and staff from all of the Rotman School’s master’s programs for a lively evening of fun, connection and raising proceeds for four charity partners.

Beyond the classroom, there are so many opportunities to develop your network for life here at Rotman. Here are a few examples of moments during your time at Rotman that could lead to your next great connection:

Remember that when choosing a graduate program, it’s also important to think about the community that will surround you. In the end, it’s this network that will make all the difference.


For more sneak peeks into some of our great events, keep reading our blog or visit our website.

Meet Your Professor: Fotini Tolias

Today, we’d like to introduce Fotini Tolias, our new Academic Director for the Master of Finance program. You will no doubt be interacting with her during the course of your time at Rotman.Fotini Tolias

Congratulations and welcome! We’re so excited to have you as our new Master of Finance Academic Director. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I spent the majority of my career in the capital markets, bond origination, which means that I used to create fixed-income securities in the primary market. Working for banks such as RBC and CIBC, my client coverage included Media & Telecom, Financial Institutions and special situations. My clients were large, publicly traded companies.

Can you tell us a little bit about your time at Rotman?

I’ve been at Rotman since 2009. I teach across all programs, from undergraduate to graduate programs. My area of expertise is in fixed income and I approach my teaching of it from a former practitioner’s point of view. Within the Master of Finance program, I teach the Fixed Income course. The course provides students with an understanding of the capital markets—specifically the bond markets—and how these markets function in practice.

What would you say is your approach to teaching?

Every class, I begin by reviewing new bond issues done in the market. I pick transactions that I think are interesting – that may tie into the lecture of the day – and then discuss them in class. Most people think that quants are boring, but they are absolutely not! That’s what I want to show my students in class. I try to make the market come alive for everyone.

By looking at actual transactions, students can make more sense of the finance theory. The classes I teach on fixed income are very hands-on.

Any advice to anyone interested in the Master of Finance program?

I think it’s a fantastic program. I wish it’d existed when I was thinking of going back to complete a graduate degree.

What I love about the program is that the students are very knowledgeable. To various degrees, every student has industry experience or an established career path. This brings a good mix to the classroom. It’s definitely one of the more challenging groups to teach because they have so much experience already. I have definitely been challenged in the classroom by students who work in the fixed income area. This keeps me on my toes and keeps me engaged and often leads me to consider fixed income from their perspective.

I am pleased to expand my involvement with the Rotman Master of Finance program and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone.


Subscribe to our blog for more thoughts on the finance industry, career paths and the Rotman MFin program. If you want to learn more about starting the Master of Finance program this September, check out our website or fill out our Master of Finance contact form for more information.

Tip: There are 3 ways to receive a GMAT exemption on your Rotman MFin application, including passing the CFA III exam. This is just one way we acknowledge the experience of our working professional applicants.

CFA Ethics Challenge: Third Win for Rotman Master of Finance

CFA Ethics Competition Winners 2016 - Rotman Master of Finance

CFA Ethics Challenge Rotman Master of Finance winning team. L-R Johnny Wu, Nicole Jiang, Elizabeth Ren and Michael Kim (CNW Group/CFA Society Toronto)

Congratulations to the Rotman Master of Finance winners of the annual CFA Ethics Challenge! This is the third consecutive year that Rotman students achieved first place, competing against students from Schulich, Queen’s Smith School of Business, and the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.

The CFA Ethics Challenge is organized to encourage the development of analytical and ethical skills required to tackle real-life challenges in the workplace. We asked winners Elizabeth Ren, Nicole Jiang, Michael Kim and Johnny Wu from the Master of Finance 2017 winning team to tell us about their experience.

Congratulations on winning this competition! How do you feel about bringing it home for the third year?

We are so proud (and also relieved, phew!) to bring home the top honor for the third year in a row, especially since Rotman was hosting the challenge this year. We all strongly believe in the importance of ethics for financial professionals. With the bloom of compliance and the regulatory industry, Rotman has taken the leadership in educating financial practitioners in this area. Our very own MFin Program is a strong evidence of this.

Where there other resources that you tapped into to prepare for this challenge?

While academic courses provided us insights into ethics in the finance world, mandatory and optional professional development modules offered by the Rotman MFin program really gave us an edge. The dynamic Teams Workshop showed us how powerful we can be if we value each other’s input and truly collaborate with each other; the Presentation Skills Workshop sharpened our skills and enabled us to present effectively in front of the CFA Society of Toronto. We worked extremely hard to dissect the complicated case, and now we know that all those Sunday practices and late online meetings were worth it! This experience has been more than rewarding and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this challenge.

Did you reach out to your external network outside of your team?

We could not have done this without the support from last year’s winning team (Michael Szaura, Sheng Fei, Mahtab Faruqui and Roger Brown). We are so thankful for Roger taking time on a Saturday afternoon to coach us. Special thanks to our former and current MFin Academic Directors Alexandra MacKay and Fotini Tolias, and Reema Chaudhry our MFin programs Assistant Director,  who not only encouraged us but also provided much guidance.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/MFin or contact us. Our next MFin deadline is February and we look forward to reviewing your application.

Tip: the earlier you apply, the greater your chance of an entrance award.

Powerhouse Mix & Mingle: Annual Rotman MFin Casino Night

Every year, the Rotman Master of Finance program organizes the popular Rotman MFin Casino Night Mix and Mingle. It’s a fabulous opportunity for current MFin students, alumni, faculty and staff to meet together for a fun and casual night. Current students take the opportunity to meet their seniors, alumni touch base with friends made during their time at Rotman, and faculty mix and mingle with all.

Check out photos from our last Rotman MFin Casino Night Mix and Mingle on Thursday, November 6, 2014.

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Powerful Network, Friends for Life. Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part IV of IV]

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

In the fourth and final installment of our wide-ranging conversation with Rotman Master of Finance class of 2014 alumna, Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial, shares her thoughts about the friendships she formed, the calibre of her classmates and her final thoughts on the MFin program. Remember to check out part I, II and III of our conversations.

Congratulations on graduating this June! Now that you’re no longer in the classroom together, do you still keep in touch with your fellow MFin alumni?

Definitely. We still hang out. Recently, one of us sent an invitation to everyone for a poker night. So everyone’s still in contact.

We went through the fire together so to speak, so there’s a kind of camaraderie there. The Rotman MFin classes are small as well so you’re able to talk to most of the people. It’s easier to make friends.

In my class, it’s funny, most of the people sat in the same spot through the whole program. So on my left was Andre. On my right was Jim. We had a pretty good dynamic.

I have to say that I learned a lot from both of them. Especially Andre. He really pushed me.

How did he push you?

He knew that I like to talk but that I’m not good at presentations or speaking in front of the class. We were in a career workshop with Heather-Anne Irwin. We had to do a one minute elevator speech, introduce yourself kind of thing. She asked for volunteers to come up and give a speech to the class. And Andre said, “Wen wants to go!” I didn’t want to go!

I did alright. Afterwards I thought, if it wasn’t because he pushed me so hard, I wouldn’t have done it.

That’s really great to hear. We always talk about how we have this powerful network. It’s great that it’s more than formal ‘networking for work’ – it’s also about gaining friendships. You really do help each other out.

Friendship - Rotman MFin Class of 2014

Friendship – Rotman MFin Class of 2014

Yes. Like Jim, he’s in a very senior position in a bank. Last year I set myself a goal to do something out of my comfort zone. So I booked informal meetings with some of the portfolio managers or senior VPs in Manulife. I would ask Jim for advice about what kind of questions I should ask, what I should talk about. He’s in that position. So I assumed he knew how I could make the most of my time with them. He helped me out, he talked to me about it. The outcome was pretty good.

I have another example of the class helping each other out. In our class, we had a lot of babies. That is, at least five of the guys became new dads during the MFin program! After they had children, we understood that they may not have as much time as before to do assignments, so the other group members will take more on. We actually did it without talking about it.

Clearly, the relationships you’ve built in the MFin program really means a lot to you. Is there anything else that stood out to you about the program? 

A Powerful Network - Rotman MFin Class of 2014

A Powerful Network – Rotman MFin Class of 2014

People do ask me about the MFin program, and I always tell them that there are three major benefits you can get from the MFin.

One, you get the best professors in finance in Canada. They’re not just the best, they’re approachable. If you have questions, they never delay replying to your emails. You can always reach them. A few of my teachers are women who are also in the industry. They really inspired me.

My classmates were also very inspiring. I truly appreciated the calibre of the class. My peers come from all areas in the finance field. In our class we had traders, sales, risk management and accounting. I‘m more like asset management and accounting. For people who are relatively new to the field and are reevaluating what to do with their career, you can get a lot of advice.  You can talk to a lot of people and see what each job is like. Plus, not only do you meet people, you make friends. And those are life time friends actually.

The third benefit that I tell people is that you definitely learn a lot from the program. It’s much deeper than the CFA. I actually applied a lot of the theories from the risk management and portfolio management courses in my work right away. For example, I was able to apply the maple bond concepts that we learned in our applied fixed income class immediately. At the time, I was working with Canadian portfolio management. We were considering issuing long term treasury because there was a lot of demand for it. I talked to Fotini (Tolias) about it and she actually helped me with the proposal I made. Now, sometimes my manager at work will come to me with questions.

One of two Rotman MFin finalist teams of the 2013 National Investment Banking Competition in Vancouver. (L-R) Raymond Lam, Wen Lei, Iffat Kashif, Jiten Mistry.

One of two Rotman MFin finalist teams of the 2013 National Investment Banking Competition in Vancouver. (L-R) Raymond Lam, Wen Lei, Iffat Kashif, Jiten Mistry.

The curriculum really is practical and so on point. Portfolio management was an awesome class. One of my class group mates is a trader at BMO and we talked about trading ideas. I started a trading account, and started managing my parents’ pension fund. I started last June; year-to-date, I have a return of 25%. My group’s balanced fund was the top performer and we received an award for that.

Thank you so much for all your insight into your time here at Rotman!

You’re very welcome.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mfin.

Contact us for more information or to start your MFin September 2015. You may also contact Breanna Brooks, Assistant Director of Admissions directly. We would love to meet with you!

Welcome, Rotman Master of Finance Class of 2016!

Our Rotman Master of Finance class of 2016 is in the building! On Wednesday, September 3, the class met together for the first time at our Orientation Welcome Dinner. Faculty, Rotman School Dean Tiff Macklem, staff and students came together to celebrate the launch of the new MFin class.

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