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The Financial Way of Life

Yash Patel, BBA 2017

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The finance specialization requires you to take courses that teach you how and why corporate leaders make the decisions they make. Events such as Google becoming Alphabet, or Apple moving its manufacturing from China to India, or even large global mergers and acquisitions such as when Activision bought King Digital, the makers of Candy Crush, makes a lot more sense when you are working towards the finance specialization. It is a blend of both qualitative reasoning as well as quantitative methods that help you clearly see why Company X did action Y. Overall, it is the ideal way to prepare yourself for a career not just in finance, but business in general, since these are skills that will help you add strong value as a C-suite executive one day.

I never really decided to specialize in finance, I just decided to take courses that I thought were interesting. Since finance is a very interesting field to me, I ended up taking almost every finance course that Schulich had to offer. This resulted in my specializing in finance, and I loved every single finance course I took. I would advise you to only go down this route if you find what I mentioned in the first paragraph to be interesting and you are willing to put in a good amount of work. The courses are not a walk in the park, but they can be an enjoyable workout if you are truly passionate and interested in the field.

One way to know if you are passionate and interested is to start following financial news on a daily basis. The easiest and best way is to subscribe to Seeking Alpha’s Wall Street Breakfast (it’s free!). It sends you an email every morning that gives you a quick summary of the main things that are happening around the world. If you read this and find yourself wanting to know more about one or two of the brief stories in it every day, you are genuinely interested in finance and should definitely consider all the finance courses Schulich has to offer.

During the course selection time in my 2nd and 3rd years, I messaged many upper-year mentors for their suggestions on what courses were the most interesting. Below are my opinions on each finance course I took after 2nd year.

FINE 3100 – Financial Management w/ Karen Chiykowski

This course was basically an extension of FINE 2000, as it covered the later chapters from the same textbook. The material covered is basically a segue into more company specific decisions such as their capital structure composition (a company’s mix of debt and equity) and their dividend policy (how a company decides how much cash to give back to its shareholders).

Regardless if you understand the above or not, Karen is a great prof who has very interesting and engaging class discussions every day.

FINE 3200 – Investments w/ George Klar

This course gets into the nitty gritty of investing. It is basically a crash-course for how to be an effective portfolio manager (a person that invests other people’s money). I would highly recommend it because there is a semester long activity where in groups you manage $1 million virtual cash, which teaches you how unpredictable and difficult real investing is and how easily you can make big mistakes. It is always good to learn these lessons with virtual cash as opposed to real cash!

The thing that turns a lot of people off about this course is that it does get quite technical. The course material is kind of CFA Level I prep, which is very heavy on equations. This does not mean the course is too hard – you get to make your own formula sheet and if you do all the chapter questions you will be fine.

FINE 3500 – Behavioural Finance w/ Ming Dong

This is a great course if you are truly interested in investing in the stock markets. The course covers how due to the fact that humans are not perfectly rational beings, they make the markets do funny things. An example is the SAD effect where the markets are lower during the winter months because people are sad from not getting enough sun. Other cool effects like these are explored and detailed studies clearly show how you can make money by taking advantage of them.

There is a catch. Although the material sounds really interesting, the way you get tested on it is slightly tough. You basically have to memorize how to answer practice questions and the analysis of studies in order to do well, otherwise you will not know what to do on the test questions.

FINE 4050 – Personal Finance w/ Sofia Johan

This is a course I would recommend to people who are not interested in finance in general. This course is basically life hacks on how to manage your personal income in terms of what type of insurance to get, how to manage your taxes, managing your debt, and planning your retirement. In general, if you take this course you will be able to have a much more secure financial future and not fall into the financial death traps that get many innocent people fall into.

FINE 4150 – Advanced Corporate Finance w/ Karen Chiykowski

This is finance on steroids. It teaches you about why companies decide to merge or acquire others, where the value gets created and how they decide how much to pay for the other company. It also takes you into the world of leveraged buyouts (like when OTPP bought Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, or when Bain bought Dollarama). You also learn about how the bankruptcy process works from a company’s perspective and how companies can create value for shareholders by breaking themselves up into smaller pieces (restructuring). Karen also teaches this course and keeps it super engaging.

If you have any questions or want to chat more, feel free to message me on Facebook.

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