As a thriving Software Engineer back in 2020, I have always been fascinated by how I can build myself a money machine through passive income from investments. So, after five years of wondering what could have been if I have taken finance in college, I finally decided to go for it and hit two birds with one stone by pursuing a master’s degree in my dream country, Canada. It was a huge shift and not an easy decision for sure, but definitely better than whining myself through life if I have not at least tried to be the person I wanted to become. In choosing the University, SIAS, I admit, was what won me over to study at SFU Beedie.
Student Investment Advisory Service (SIAS) is the largest student-run investment fund in Canada that allows students to go beyond what is taught in class through the application of learnings using real money, a whopping C$23.7M as of September 2021. Being a full-service manager with compliance, operations, trade, risk, ESG, macro, equities, and fixed income teams, SIAS also enhances communication skills through collaboration with multi-cultural cross-functional teams in an international environment.
However, it is worth noting that SIAS is not a walk in a park. Getting all the benefits from such an awesome experience requires putting in some time and effort. As chief compliance officers (CCO), my amazing co-lead and I had to ensure compliance of the entire portfolio to the Investment Policy Statement (IPS) through audits on a daily and monthly basis. In cases of IPS breach, we engaged with the concerned teams for urgent resolution then communicated to the client the problem, root cause, and actions taken, both corrective and preventive. In our term, we also worked on revisions on our IPS to set it to be more dynamic and adaptable to changing market conditions.
Not only did we work as CCO, we were also the Chief Operations Officers (COO). We facilitated regular bi-weekly meetings with the portfolio managers and monthly town halls with the entire SIAS team, including the analysts. In these meetings, we led the discussion of our performance (alpha, tracking error, etc.), the rationale behind our trades, and the recognition of outstanding analysts. We also used the scrum methodology I adapted from my IT practice when taking updates from every team. That includes keeping track of action steps done, next action steps, roadblocks, and help needed to ensure good synergy among teams. We also organized the preparations for our quarterly presentations and connected with finance professionals who participated as panel members. We made sure that workload for everyone is distributed over long periods of time so as not to cause conflict with our studies. As a little extra, I willingly devoted my time developing automation tools using Microsoft Excel, Visual Basic, Macros, and SharePoint Workflows to streamline processes such as daily compliance checks and trade approvals.
Having experienced investment management first-hand helped a lot in my job interview. I found it easier to explain most of the metrics in Layman’s terms and with concrete real-life examples. I only applied to one amazing company, had one interview, and got the job offer for an internship at their investment strategy and risk department.
SIAS is my family where I met really good friends that absolutely made my MSc Finance experience all the more wonderful in so many ways and for that, I am beyond grateful.
About the Author
Reah is currently an MSc Finance candidate at SFU Beedie and a Technical Specialist at Apple. She has a 5-year professional experience as a Software Engineer developing financial accounting solutions for multi-national companies in life sciences and consumer goods industries. She holds an MBA, BS Industrial Engineering, and an SAP Finance Technology Consultant certification. She advocates for financial literacy and has conducted free seminars in the Philippines as a licensed Financial Advisor. In her spare time, she enjoys building automation tools and fun robots using programmable microcontrollers. In the future, Reah aspires to work in investment strategy and risk consulting.