Thought leadership stories

Professor Cody Buchenauer (CPA, CA, MAcc ’14) is a School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) alum with a remarkable career journey. From a student navigating through co-op terms to an industry professional holding a role as senior manager at EY, Buchenauer is now a full-time faculty member as well as a member of SAF’s co-op and experiential learning team. Bridging academia and industry to guide current students’ career paths as a passionate educator, his journey is a testament to the impact of the co-op experience offered at SAF.

New research shows that team-based recognition can be effective in settings where performance is highly interdependent, and teamwork is essential to the company’s success.

With the fall term fast approaching, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is excited to welcome the incoming Class of 2028. There is a lot of preparation involved as students get ready for their first year of university. To help with this transition, a team of faculty members at SAF have created a series of modules to get students familiar with the technology requirements for SAF, as well as basic accounting and finance concepts.

In the digital age, a new Twitter strategy can have implications for a healthy bottom line. How companies handle customer complaints on social media plays a critical role in their customer-focused performance management systems. However, there has been a notable lack of descriptive information related to assessing managerial performance based on the handling of online complaints.

Based on the emerging technology, this paper proposes a new method to measure the expected duration of competitive advantage for average adopters. This method is based on public data, such as google searches, press releases, book titles, and companies’ disclosures with respect to the technology. The method is very easy to implement.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is pleased to share that Jillian Adams has been awarded the Warren Ober Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student. This award is given to a University of Waterloo graduate student in the Faculty of Arts who has made significant contributions to teaching.

When Blake Phillips began his doctorate in finance in 2009, he was asked to declare a focus. With previous degrees in biology and forestry and an interest in conservation, he zeroed in on sustainable finance.   

Congratulations to School of Accounting and Finance professor Ranjini Jha, recipient of the 2023 Arts Award for Excellence in Service!

Established in 2012 by then-dean Doug Peers, the Arts Awards for Excellence in Service, Teaching and Research recognize exceptional contributions made by faculty, staff, and students in the Faculty of Arts. This is the 11th anniversary of the Arts Awards and more than 30 members of the Arts community were nominated by their chairs, supervisors, and colleagues.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Andres Perez-Vilarino (MAcc ’19) to discuss his career post-graduation, and to learn how he has leveraged his education and passions to help inform his role.

More than 30 nominations submitted for the 2023 Arts Awards for Excellence in Service, Teaching, and Research posed an especially tough challenge for members of the Arts Honours and Awards (AHA) committee this spring. So many outstanding members of the Arts community inspired their chairs, supervisors, and colleagues to put names forward as nominees to recognize their contributions and achievements. Today, Dean Sheila Ager and the AHA committee are happy to share the results.

Wenqian Hu’s paper Trust Versus Rewards: Revisiting Managerial Discretion in Incomplete Contracts was awarded the Lazaridis Institute Prize for the best paper on accounting issues relevant to technology firms. The paper finds that an algorithm-generated bonus allocation scheme improves employee productivity, compared with human managers’ bonus allocation.

In fast-paced and often rapidly changing work environments, employers continue to seek new and improved ways to recognize employees in the workplace. However, new research from the University of Waterloo suggests that public peer recognition may backfire by enabling comparisons among employees, and these comparisons may make some employees feel unfairly treated.

Krista Fiolleau, associate professor in the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) has recently published a chapter titled “The professional responsibility of accountants as re-defined by the inclusion of the NOCLAR standard in the Code of Ethics” within the Research Handbook on Accounting Ethics alongside co-authors Pier-Luc Nappert from Université Laval and Linda Thorne from the Schulich School of Business.  NOCLAR, an acronym meaning non-compliance with laws and regulations is discussed extensively throughout the chapter.

From becoming the first member of her family to graduate from university, Ranjini Jha now educates other students as a professor of finance at the University of Waterloo.

Currently, Ho works as an associate in private equity at Brookfield Asset Management and he attributes the start of building his investor mindset to his experience at the University of Waterloo with the Student Investment Fund (SIF). SIF gave him and other SAF students the unique opportunity to invest with real money and get hands-on-training in equity valuation and portfolio management with guidance from industry experts and faculty mentors. This taught him about value investing that he then applied to his co-op role as private equity analyst at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and when competing in the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

Mingyue Zhang is an assistant professor of accounting at the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo.

She earned her PhD in Accounting from the University of Toronto (Rotman School of Management) and Master of Professional Accounting from Singapore Management University. She is also an affiliate of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.(ACCA)

Cyber-attacks and data breaches are of great concern for data-sensitive organizations. These organizations are adept at safeguarding data but fail in safeguarding against cyber-attacks. Phishing is a semantic attack that deceives email users into clicking on the embedded link or attachment in an email. The goal could be to induce the email users to subsequently give away sensitive information, enable malware that can steal passwords, or install a backdoor into the user’s system and encrypt the users’ data. Phishing imposes a great risk on these organizations for two reasons. First, even a non-vital position in which employees likely perceive little cyber risk, if being attacked, could cause significant economic loss and litigations. Second, phishing emails could simultaneously reach most employees within an organization. Thus, strengthening the frontier of safeguarding against phishing is of vital importance.

On a bright sunny day at the TD Centre in Toronto, professor Adam Vitalis interviewed four SAF alums about their careers in the internal audit field. Internal audit is a critical component of effective corporate governance and risk management and plays an important role in helping organizations achieve their objectives while safeguarding their assets and reputation.

As workplace practices continue to shift, organizations are finding inventive ways to keep their employees motivated and committed to reaching their goals.

The University of Waterloo community came together to cheer on eight finalist teams as they pitched to a panel of judges and a chock-full room of attendees at the Velocity $5K finals on March 30th in the Black and Gold Room at the University’s Student Life Centre.

The recent collapse of banks in the United States and this week's intervention by the Swiss government to facilitate the takeover of banking giant Credit Suisse might have some worried about a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

Dr. James R. Thompson, associate professor in the School of Accounting and Finance and co-director of the University of Waterloo's Computing and Financial Management program, sheds light on what's causing the instability in the banking system and how it might affect Canadian financial institutions.

Many fear a repeat of 2008 given the recent collapse of banks in the United States and the intervention that happened this week by the Swiss government to facilitate the takeover of banking giant Credit Suisse.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Laura Fong (MAcc '20) to chat about her career since graduation and her path to pursuing a career in tax. Fong, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) graduate, worked with Deloitte for all her co-op terms as a student. With the support and encouragement of her colleagues, she has happily stayed at Deloitte post-graduation. She continues to thrive in this positive environment as she grows her skills to become a great tax practitioner.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity, calling people to imagine a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where differences are valued and celebrated. Today and every day, the School of Accounting and Finance is proud to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in our community.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Muhammad Azim, Assistant Professor

Muhammad Azim is an Assistant Professor at the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo.

He acquired his Bachelor of Commerce from Queen's University, Masters in Finance from Queen's University, and a PhD in Accounting from the University of Toronto. He has previously worked at Deloitte's Assurance and Advisory Services, and during that time he also obtained his CPA and CA degrees.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Alba Navarro (MAcc '21) to discuss her career since graduation and the gap in support for 2SLGBTQIA+ students that she experienced in university.

Alba, a Master of Accounting graduate, is energized by the work that she does as a Consultant in Deloitte Canada’s Finance and Performance team. Alba helps companies bridge technology-enabled transformation with leading practice business processes for their finance functions.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Tisha King, Assistant Professor

Tisha King is a professional accountant and earned her Ph.D. from Wilfrid Laurier University. Professor King specializes in behavioral research that largely focuses on ethical judgments and decision-making within the context of taxpayers and tax professionals. Her recent studies investigate how advances in technology, penalties, and fairness influence tax compliance. In her free time, Professor King enjoys running, biking, and hiking with her family.

Monday, February 6, 2023

It was written in the stars

This Valentine’s Day, we are sharing the story of Candy and Francis Lanois (MAcc '12), two graduates of the Master of Accounting program who may not agree on the story of their first date but agree that they saw something special in one another from the start. After fatefully meeting in their fourth year of studies, their love was sparked with romantic star gazing dates in St. Jacobs, and many bubble tea and ice cream outings. Now happily married, their advice is to never stop dating.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Twins by chance, classmates by choice

Sisters Stephanie Nguyen and Jessica Nguyen celebrate graduating from the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program and passing the CPA Common Final Examination (CFE) together. During their time at the University of Waterloo they had in each other a built-in best friend, study partner and cheerleader.

The federal government has introduced several changes to taxation and tax benefits for this year — and experts tell CBC News the tax changes related to housing are the ones to watch.

The federal government indexes personal income tax brackets and many tax benefits to inflation. They'll increase by 6.3 per cent this year, says the Canada Revenue Agency.

What do robo-investors, cryptocurrency, and your bank app have in common? These, plus dozens of other technology-based financial management software platforms all fall under the category and growing industry of FinTech.

The Second Annual CFM 101 Team Competition was held in December. Teams were again required to choose from a basket of stocks to include in their portfolios to meet pre-set goals.

Fall 2022 Velocity $5K winners share desire to innovate

Excitement permeated the packed room as eight finalist teams made their last effort to convince a panel of judges that their business idea was deserving of one of four $5,000 awards at Velocity’s $5K pitch competition.  

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.

Jacqueline Sue and fellow 2019 Master of Accounting (MAcc) graduate, Jasper Lam are both working in social-focused organizations. In building their careers, both attribute the co- and extra-curricular opportunities they’ve had in leading them into careers with an objective to solve social problems and provide social benefits. The School of Accounting and Finance caught up with Jacqueline and Jasper to learn more about their experiences and their motivations to do good for their community, Canada, and potentially the world.

Young alum Annu Puri (MAcc ’19), attributes his current success to Waterloo’s entrepreneurial spirit and the experiences and mentors he’s had throughout his academic career. Calling Waterloo Region home, Puri returned to the University to see how it has changed across campus, chat about his career path, and highlight his passion project, &Vision, with the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF).

Erica La’s (MAcc ’10, CPA) career journey started quite traditionally from an accounting perspective. As an Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) student, La completed her co-op work terms and began her career after graduation with PwC. After exploring and taking on diverse roles within audit, La left PwC as a senior associate, to work for Borealis Infrastructure, now known as OMERS Infrastructure. La’s next career move brought her to RealStar, a past audit client from

Thursday, October 20, 2022

SAF Director's message

Blake Phillips is the Director of the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF, September 1, 2022 - ), the ninth director since the School was established in 1980. From 2018 – 2022, Blake served as the Deputy Director for the SAF.

Daily box office earnings can accurately predict stock market returns, according to a new study.

Traditionally quarterly and monthly consumption data is used to predict stock market performance. But using box office earnings – a measure that captures consumption on a more frequent basis – offers more timely and relevant data for decision-makers in the financial markets.

Sheilaah Guthrie, associate director of advancement at the School of Accounting and Finance had the chance to sit down with alum Lana Paton (BMath ’93) whose generous donation established the Lana Paton Women in Finance Scholarship in 2020. Lana is vice-chair and managing partner of the Greater Toronto Area and South Western Ontario Region at PwC Canada and a member of their Extended Leadership Team. The Lana Paton Women in Finance Scholarship was created to encourage and support aspiring undergraduate women to strive for leadership roles. Historically, leadership roles in the finance industry have been dominated by men. The School hopes the scholarship will act as encouragement to bridge the gender gap in leadership roles within finance, accounting, and business in general. Amazingly, Lana’s scholarship has already inspired other alumni to establish similar undergraduate scholarships that will further break down gender disparity and inclusivity barriers. 

Seasoned entrepreneur Ian Weng (MAcc ’13) began his career at KPMG in audit and advisory services after graduating from the Master of Accounting program. While at KPMG he gained a breadth of knowledge and obtained his CPA, CA designation. Like many University of Waterloo alums, however, he caught the entrepreneurship bug and wanted to create something⁠—so he ended up leaving KPMG to start his first tech startup called ChopChop.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Welcoming New Faculty

Welcome to Fall 2022 and with the beginning of the semester, SAF will be welcoming five new faculty members. We’re excited to have them with us and look forward to being inspired by their energy, research and expertise. Please join SAF in welcoming them to the School of Accounting and Finance.

Muhammad Azim, Assistant Professor

Tangible rewards motivate employees when they’re easy to use, pleasurable, unexpected, and distinct from salary, a new study found.

A recent survey of firms in the United States revealed that 84 per cent spent more than $90 billion annually on tangible employee rewards, such as gift cards, recreation trips and merchandise, in hopes of increasing productivity.

A recent trend in organizations is to motivate employees with goal-based prosocial rewards, whereby employees must donate their rewards to charities upon goal attainment. We examine the motivational effects of goal-based prosocial rewards versus cash rewards under different levels of goal difficulty. We develop our hypotheses based on affective valuation theory, which posits that when valuing uncertain outcomes by affect rather than calculation, individuals are largely insensitive to changes in probability of the outcomes, including probability of goal attainment.