Emily Halverson-Duncan, MFin '22
- Job title: Associate Investment Advisor, BMO Nesbitt Burns
- Previous education: Bachelor of Honours Mathematics & Business Administration, University of Waterloo
- Other designations: CFA
What is your current job and what role does it play within the finance industry?
I recently switched jobs and am currently working as an Associate Investment Advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns. I work as part of a team managing over $1B in client assets, and my role is focused primarily on research and portfolio management. My day-to-day work revolves around researching different investment vehicles including stocks, bonds, ETF’s, mutual funds, alternatives, and more. I also work directly with our clients to review their portfolios and ensure they are on track to meeting their financial goals.
Why did you decide to study the MFin program?
I’ve always had an interest in furthering my education, which is why I originally pursued and obtained my CFA charter after completing my undergraduate degree. I’ve had a desire to obtain a master’s degree since graduating, however, initially the only option I was really aware of was an MBA.
"While there’s a lot of value to an MBA and the networking you can get from it, I really wanted to make sure the program offered a lot in the way of new quantitative skills I could use throughout my career, which eventually led me to the MFin."
I researched the program further and what really stood out to me was that the MFin is extremely specialized and quant-focused. This coupled with being taught by a number of professors with industry experience made it clear the MFin was the right choice.
What is your top reason for choosing Rotman?
I had researched several schools offering MFin programs but when it came down to it, Rotman was the clear choice.
"Rotman’s MFin program offers a challenging array of courses while still giving its students and program graduates access to Rotman’s vast network of alumni."
I really liked that the program was two years and had the ability to go more in depth with their content than some of the shorter programs available. I was also excited to learn that the content taught in this program is predominately ‘post-CFA’, and so much of what we would be taught would be new to me.
Any goals coming into the program that have already accomplished? Have you been able to hone in on new skills and apply them to your workplace?
One of my goals coming into the program was to move away from my business development background and move toward a role that is more research focused. I’m pleased to say I was able to do just that and have moved into a new role at BMO Nesbitt Burns this past December. My role primarily revolves around portfolio management and has been a great transition that has allowed me to use some of the concepts taught in my courses so far.
How are you finding Rotman’s community?
I am currently a member of several clubs at Rotman and am one of my cohort’s class representatives. I’m also excited to say I’ve been elected the MFin Director for the GBC Executive Team for the 2021-2022 academic year. Along with these commitments, I’ve also been able to participate in several case competitions so far and have been lucky enough to make it into the finals each time.
"These experiences have introduced me to a wide variety of people, but more than anything, they’ve given me the opportunity to get to know and become friends with people that I otherwise may not have had as much of a chance to speak with due to the pandemic."
I love that I can choose to be as involved as I’d like to be and turn my master’s into any kind of experience I want, and I’m trying to make the most of it.
What has been a highlight of your Rotman experience?
One highlight of my experience at Rotman so far was coming in 2nd place and winning the Entrepreneur’s Choice Award with my team at REVCA’s Venture Capital Investment Competition. That case competition was a ton of fun and a great experience, giving us the ability to hear from and feel what it was like to work with real entrepreneurs looking for funding. The case competition ran throughout an entire Saturday but went by incredibly quickly.
"I feel fortunate and humbled to have made it so far in the competition and am grateful for the amazing team that got me there!"
Has the Rotman and the MFin program met your expectations?
So far, I would say both the school and MFin program have met my expectations – once they were adjusted for the impacts of Covid of course. While it hasn’t been what I pictured when I was first accepted in 2019, Rotman and the MFin Program Directors have truly done a great job trying to make this an enjoyable experience that reflects the same quality students of more normal years would have received. And hey, at least we’ll be the most memorable cohort!
What has been your experience studying this year online?
The experience studying online has been both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, being able to attend classes online when I’m already working from home was much simpler than trying to commute amidst the chaos that is Covid. In addition, the fact that there isn’t a whole lot else to do outside of work and school made the choice to study a pretty easy one! That said, not being able to meet my classmates face-to-face and to hear lectures from professors in person has been difficult. Rotman has accommodated for these shortfalls as well as they can, and thankfully video technology is as good as it is, but there’s no real way to replicate the in-person experience perfectly. That said, I’ve still been enjoying my time at Rotman and am pleased with the support we’ve received and the accommodations that have been made.
In terms of future plans, I certainly don’t have any immediate plans to move into a new role anytime soon but still want to continue sharpening my analytical skill set and broadening my network in the investment industry. I think Rotman will be very helpful in both respects, especially once we get back in person for our second year (fingers crossed!).
What would you say to someone considering choosing the MFin?
Do it! If you’re the type of person who enjoys learning new things and can handle a challenge, I don’t think there’s a better program to look at. You will be pushed to your limits – me and my classmates can all attest to this – but the knowledge and confidence in your skills that you’ll gain throughout the program makes the workload more than worth it. It’s a program where you’ll get back as much as you put into it, and that gives seemingly endless opportunities of ways to broaden your horizons.
"If you want to make a change - not just in your career, but in yourself – I truly can’t recommend it enough."
This post was written while Emily was a student in the program.
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