Before Langara College announced its new financial services diploma program last year, it decided to find out what the industry was seeking.
So it only seemed natural to send an instructor who teaches market research, Stephanie Koonar, to venture into the community to find some answers.
“It was designed with alumni who are already working in the field and with industry representatives,” Koonar told the Straight by phone. “What they told us is that people in financial services are actually sales and marketing people. So they are sales and marketing people who are comfortable with numbers but they don’t want to be accountants.”
She said that the financial services diploma prepares people to become client-services representatives with a financial institution.
This diploma can also be a springboard to obtaining a four-year bachelor’s of business administration degree from Langara.
According to Koonar, some people who apply to work at banks don’t realize that these institutions are often seeking candidates who can build a business or a clientele. And banking-industry officials have told her that some of the most successful applicants “are sales and marketing people who want to be out there connecting with people”.
Last year, the college also decided to divide its school of management into three divisions: marketing management, business management, and financial management.
Koonar, who is the coordinator of the financial services diploma, said marketing management provides a foundation in marketing, sales, advertising, distribution, market research, business computer applications, written communication skills, and law.
“Because there are lots of job opportunities in marketing, we provide the students with a variety of different courses so they can see what they might like or resonate with,” she said. “We try to make the courses very similar to what they would be doing on the job so that they really get an understanding of what that job is about, whether it’s running an event, designing an ad campaign, or writing a news release.”
One of her passions is to enhance students’ financial literacy.
So this fall, Langara College will launch new courses on personal financial planning, which will provide the basics on such things as securing a mortgage, investing in a registered education-savings plan, and maintaining a tax-free savings account.
Koonar said some students who take this course might then decide to pursue a financial services diploma. For them, the job prospects are promising.
“The stat I was using was that 38 percent of financial advisors plan to retire in the next 10 years,” Koonar said. “And 57 percent of Canadian advisers are older than 50.”
As the world prepares to celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday (March 8), Koonar pointed out that the financial-services sector can offer lucrative careers for women.
She has noticed growing interest among women in this field because they want to be less dependent on partners for their financial security.
“Women are wanting to be empowered themselves and be accountable and responsible to make money themselves,” she said.
They also have significantly longer life expectancies than men, which is another reason for them to prepare for the future.More