Sitting down with Andrew Giles

Thursday, April 9, 2020
by Andrew Giles, MAcc ’19

Andrew Giles
In September 2019, over 6,000 candidates passed the Common Final Examination (CFE), moving them towards their profession as a chartered professional accountant. The CFE Honour Roll consists of the top one per cent of successful CFE writers. Out of the 28 Ontario Honour Roll members, 15 of them were School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) graduates. We had a chance to sit down with Andrew Giles (MAcc ’19, PwC Experienced Associate) to ask him about his CFE experience, and how SAF helped him make it onto the honour roll.

How has your SAF program prepared you for the CFE and professional success?

Overall, the SAF program prepared me very well for the CFE and my professional career. I think one of the biggest advantages was that we took so many extra accounting, tax, and finance courses during the program (compared to other schools), that all of the technical knowledge was drilled into our heads. As such, when it came time for the CFE, or when a problem arises at work, it’s easy to go back and quickly recall that knowledge to find a solution.

In your opinion, how do you think your cumulative experiences within your SAF program (academic, extra/co-curricular, co-op, etc.) attributed to your CFE and career success?

Overall, I think that the SAF program provided me with a very broad knowledge base which I have been able to utilize to thrive in both my career and on the CFE. In particular, I think that the co-op program was critical as it allowed me to graduate with 16 months of work experience which accelerated my time to promotion and qualification. Additionally, the opportunity to TA taught me project management skills and allowed me to refresh my technical knowledge.

What do you aspire to do within your professional career?

For my professional career, I aspire to work in a fast-paced environment which will both challenge me and allow me to work with a diverse group of individuals around the world including traveling to these different areas.

What tips or pointers can you offer to current SAF students?

Trust the process. It may seem like it’s not working when you get your case marks back and they would be failing grades on the CFE — but just know what you are getting compared to other non-SAF students. Generally, on the whole, you’re miles ahead of everyone. By the time August hits you’ll be getting passing grades on every practice exam while individuals who aren’t in SAF may be struggling.