Everything I learned at the AFM 2B specialization presentation

Friday, June 28, 2024
by Thomas S., Social Media and Web Associate
Students asking questions during the Q&A period of a presentation

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) 2B specialization presentation which I found very informative.

The session was hosted by staff and faculty who shared their knowledge to help students decide what specialization(s) will work best for them. I couldn’t believe the huge variety of topics and interests that these specializations cover so I’m excited to share what I’ve learned for those who missed it. 

What are career specializations and why are they important?

Specializations are groups of courses that allow you to expand on your specific interests and personal career goals. They enable you to study the specific fields within the AFM program curriculum that you find most interesting and provide you with valuable industry knowledge on those topics. These courses were created with input and consultation from industry professionals and teach you extremely practical skills that you can use throughout your career. 

What are the career specialization options?

The presentation went into detail on each AFM career specialization, so here are a few things I learned about each of them, including what they are and possible career options they might lead to: 

Professional Accountant

This major specialization focuses on accounting, granting students practical industry knowledge like how to read and prepare financial statements. Other areas of focus include assurance, taxation, cost management, and performance management. The Professional Accountant specialization is also very popular as it fulfills your CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) designation prerequisites along with the Masters of Accounting (MAcc) prerequisites. This specialization gives any graduating student interested in a career in accounting the knowledge they need to advance in the field.  

Some career or co-op options for the Professional Accountant specialization include Financial/Corporate Controller, Staff Accountants, Treasury, and Accounting Manager.  

Business Analytics

This specialization focuses on teaching important analytical tools which are put into practice using real-world data from real- world companies. You will develop technical skills and gain valuable experience in managing, forecasting, testing, and optimizing data in decision and policy-making. This specialization is perfect for students who are not sure exactly what they want to do yet as you can try out many different areas and gain plenty of transferable skills. Experience with these tools can set you apart from others once you enter the workforce.  As Professor Harris Mian said, “By the time you start your career, you’ve already dealt with the hardest stuff.” 

Some career/ co-op options are positions like Data Analyst, Market Researcher, and Investment Portfolio Analyst. 

SAF professor Harris Mian presenting at the career specialization event

Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Entrepreneurial Mindset specialization focuses on developing innovative thinking while providing students with the skills to spot new opportunities. During the presentation, Professor Frank Hayes stated that “Change for young people usually means opportunity,” and provided the recent example of the rise of AI. Through the  Entrepreneurial Mindset specialization, you gain the skills needed to respond to major developments like AI in a creative way. With this specialization, students can set themselves apart through the development of problem solving and leadership skills. While you develop these important skills, this specialization works best when paired with another. 

Some career/ co-op options available with this specialization are Finance Analyst, Business Developer, Mergers & Acquisitions, and working with or launching your own startup.  

Financial Leadership

This specialization prepares students for senior leadership roles within organizations by providing them with foundational leadership skills. During the presentation, Professor Nancy Vanden Bosch said that this specialization was “Finance from the perspective of a CFO.” Through this specialization, students can explore topics including corporate governance, risk management, international financial management, financial institutions, and management of fast-growing firms. This specialization is best combined with the Professional Accountancy Specialization to prepare students for a leadership role within the field of accountancy.  

Some co-op/career options for students with this specialization include Project Analysts, Risk Management, and Internal Audit.  

Financial Markets

Next up is the Financial Markets Specialization. This is another major specialization that helps prepare students for a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. Students can gain knowledge on topics like capital markets and financial institutions, along with valuable experience with securities valuation, and corporate/personal financial advising. This is the main choice for anyone interested in working in finance and taking these courses shows employers that you have an interest in the field. 

Some career/co-op options for this specialization include Portfolio Operation Analyst, Investment Banking, Private Equity, Asset Management, and Financial Planning. 


Even with the addition of the Sustainability and Financial Management (SFM) program, there is still a place for this unique specialization. Through this specialization, students will gain basic skills and knowledge relating to sustainability, which is one of the most important conversations being had by most companies today. This specialization is great for any AFM student with an interest in sustainability and is most effective when paired with an additional specialization. Sustainability is a topic that’s not going anywhere, so a specialization in sustainability helps you stand out in this changing landscape.  

Some career/ co-op options available for students in this specialization are Assurance Manager, Climate Change and Sustainability Services or an Environmental Accountant.  

SAF professor Konrad Pawlak presenting at the career specialization event

Co-curricular courses 

Student Investment Fund (SIF) and Student Venture Fund (SVF)

While both the Student Investment Fund (SIF) and Student Venture Fund (SVF) are not specializations, they are fantastic opportunities for students to gain real world experience and expertise.

SIF grants experience in equity valuation and portfolio management while SVF focuses on venture capital investing. Under the supervision of industry experts and finance faculty, these funds give students the opportunity to work with a real cash fund or real-world startup companies.  

These boardroom-style experiences do a lot to help set students apart as they gain technical skills and knowledge five to ten years ahead of their time, while still in school. Specifically, participation in these funds highlights decision making and leadership abilities as students judge the credibility of teams and products and are given the opportunity to rise to leadership positions within the funds. I would encourage any student to apply to either fund as many students move on to great co-op and full-time positions due to the valuable skills they gained.  

Take aways

I learned so much by attending the AFM 2B specialization presentation and would recommend any AFM student to attend when it’s their time to choose a specialization! The staff and faculty are top-tier industry experts with a ton of valuable knowledge that can help you make the decision that will suit you best.  

For more information on the specializations, head to the Accounting and Financial Management degree requirements page. Also check out the SIF and SVF pages for more information and how to apply.