Tag Archives: Tom McCurdy

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.

In His Own Words: Professor Tom McCurdy, Founder & Director of the Rotman Finance Lab

In this blog post the Founder and Director of the Finance Lab, Professor of Finance Tom McCurdy, talks about the BMO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab’s vision and operations. He teaches in the Rotman Master of Finance and MBA programs, along with several other programs at the University.

As a Rotman Morning & Evening MBA or Master of Finance student, you’ll have classes in the lab that let you take full advantage of this high-tech facility that puts the global financial community at your fingertips.

Tom McCurdy, Bonham Chair in International Finance, Finance Lab Founder and Director, and Professor of Finance

Tom McCurdy, Bonham Chair in International Finance, Finance Lab Founder and Director, and Professor of Finance

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Can you tell us a little about the Finance Lab and your vision for founding it?

The Finance Lab is managed by myself, the lab manager, Marco Salerno, and Eric Kang. We’re also supported by a stellar team of lab assistants.

We were established more than 17 years ago with an aim of teaching finance while taking account of uncertainty in an explicit way. In the classroom, we sometimes discuss cases as if we have perfect foresight; but I want to also consider practicing a probabilistic viewpoint. What can and cannot be forecasted, and how do we make good decisions when facing uncertainty? Many successful strategies depend on good forecasts or at least an understanding of what can or cannot be predicted and with what degree of confidence.

One could teach probability theory and do forecasting in a very statistical way. But even if some students don’t have that background, I have found that they learn to think probabilistically by practicing making decisions across the range of possible outcomes. We use this simulation-based learning so that our students learn to make good decisions in complex situations for which there is considerable uncertainty.

Would you say the Finance Lab and its associated products like the Rotman Interactive Trader and Rotman Portfolio Manager are developed with practicality at its core?

Absolutely! When we are developing our simulation cases we talk to industry experts about their required skills, the nature of the decisions they have to make, and the risks and uncertainties associated with those decisions. As a result, our cases are designed to help students to prepare for their careers.

Rotman BMO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab

In fact, one of the world’s largest companies is using our market simulation platform and its associated learning-by-doing cases to train their own employees worldwide. They are in the commodities field, so we developed a sequence of highly-relevant, true-to-life cases that start from understanding how commodity and derivatives markets work; and then proceed to cases that are specifically designed to train participants for their required tasks and practice the decisions they have to make. For example, for crude oil, managing costs such as storage (cost-of-carry), production (refinery) decisions, transportation (pipeline or shipping) costs and associated strategies such as transportation arbitrage, news trading, and risk management (e.g. extreme weather, pipeline breaks, market price risk, etc.). Our cases really reflect the experiences of actual companies so naturally they have important benefits for teaching.

We have developed a large number of cases to practice decision-making under uncertainty across a wide range of business problems. Whenever we are developing new cases – such as specific cases on market microstructure with multiple exchanges and new trading technologies – one of things that I have to do is keep up on innovations in markets, new securities for enhanced risk management strategies, etc., so that our cases reflect best practice in industry but also add value for learning about new approaches. Of course we benefit from the knowledge of our MBA and MFin students, many of whom are working or have experience working in companies facing those problems.

How else do people use the Finance Lab?

Some students come to the Lab to research companies because they have an interview coming up and they want to know everything about the company. Most students use our Lab to collect up-to-date information and analyses for doing their course assignments. There is a wide range of activities happened in the Lab.

Beyond being an information portal, at the Finance Lab students can use our custom applications to integrate theory and research with practice. They can link their classroom lessons and discussions to real-time market information to get immediate feedback on their understanding and mastery of the relevant questions. That evolution to a dynamic learning center is really why our Lab has been successful.


Try out the Finance Lab in one of our fun and exciting market simulation events.

Register here.

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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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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