Finance leader and SAF alum Philip Mayers highlights the importance of giving back to the community by providing financial literacy lessons and supporting aspiring professionals
by Victoria Hinde
Philip Mayers (MAcc '86) brings over 25 years of finance and general management experience in financial services businesses to his role as senior vice president and chief financial officer at Sagen - Canada's largest private default mortgage insurance provider. The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Mayers to discuss his career, the importance of building confidence and competence to make financial decisions for a healthy financial future and why it’s important to him to give back to Waterloo and SAF.
Mayers holds CPA, CA and CMA professional designations and after completing his Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree, Mayers began his career with Deloitte to then build his finance career with Mortgage Insurance Company of Canada and Esso Petroleum Canada. In 1995, he joined Sagen (previously known as Genworth Canada) where he has held various senior positions. Starting in audit, Mayers knew that he always wanted to move into advisory in the accounting field and then saw his career move into financial reporting and then financial services.
"I transitioned over to financial services because I wanted to be in a role where finance had the opportunity to participate in business strategy in a more direct way.” - Phil Mayers
SAGEN'S COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING FINANCIAL LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM
In 2018, Sagen (at the time, Genworth Canada) partnered with the School to support the University of Waterloo Financial Literacy Competition, an opportunity to collaborate with high school teachers to offer students the chance to build confidence and competence in making financial decisions as they prepare for a healthy financial future.
“As the founding sponsor of the University of Waterloo School of Accounting and Finance’s Financial Literacy Competition, Sagen’s role was instrumental in launching this competition that promotes financial literacy across Canada. Our ongoing commitment to this program ensures continued support to high school teachers and their students, highlighting the importance of financial literacy to young adults.” - Susan Carter, Vice President Marketing and Communications, Sagen
Thanks to the generous support of Sagen, more than 3,000 students have been exposed to a variety of financial literacy topics through this competition and recognized with certificates for their achievement.
“With financial support from the Sagen team, our competition is more accessible to high school teachers and their students with the expansion of the competition to twice a year and to students at all grade levels. The pandemic presented some challenges, but their support meant that we could continue to make this opportunity available to students when many other extra-curricular opportunities were not. It is our hope, with Sagen’s generous support, that we can continue to expose students to a variety of financial literacy topics so that when faced with financial decisions in the future, these students will have the competence and confidence to ask the right questions to support their financial well-being.” - Tracy Hilpert, Lecturer at the School of Accounting and Finance.
Mayers describes the pillars for Sagen's community outreach being four key areas: housing affordability, financial literacy, civic responsibility and employee engagement; the Financial Literacy Competition being a key component to that “financial literacy pillar” for Sagen. Sagen’s work is often with first-time home buyers where understanding credit and financial literacy is crucial. “We believe it's important for us as a company to give back to the community by enabling programs that teach financial literacy at an early age, to students,” notes Mayers.
SUPPORTING FUTURE LEADERS
Along with being an advocate for the School and the university overall within Sagen, Mayers has generously given back personally to support the university. Mayers speaks highly of SAF students, noting that he is always impressed by their knowledge, commitment and energy. The high caliber students from the School, along with Mayers regard the University of Waterloo as a place that has greatly contributed to his professional and personal development is why he has felt that is so important to stay connected and give back to the next generation of students.
Additionally, Mayers provided four tidbits of advice for aspiring professionals:
- You always need to take the role of a student and never stop learning.
- You need to put on a business lens; people become successful as they make a business successful.
- You learn the most when you stretch the most - never underestimate your ability to rise to the cause, when you are given a challenge that is when you grow the most.
- Always think like the CEO so that you are preparing yourself for the next level.
Mayers’ passion is clear as he speaks about the university, his career path and the work he is currently doing at Sagen. The School looks forward to continuing to work with Phil and Sagen to help grow and develop the financial literacy program.