Black financial professionals find a place in CAUFP
April 5, 2018
If you want to connect with very friendly and open-minded Black professionals in the financial services industry, then the Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals (CAUFP) is for you.
No longer rehearsed, the buzzwords flow easily from the mouth of Abdul-Aziz Garuba whenever he’s asked to talk about the organization. For good measure, he always adds, ‘We are also the best kept secret in Canada’.
The CAUFP – formerly the Urban Financial Services Coalition -- was founded 21 years ago to provide a bridge between corporations and the Black communities through education, information and programs to facilitate economic empowerment.
Garuba attended his first monthly meeting shortly after relocating from Ottawa in January 2013.
“I was significantly impressed by seeing so many Black professionals in one space,” he said at the CAUFP ‘Black on Bay Ball’ at Arcadian Court. “Everything was so well organized and I knew that was the organization for me.”
Not having the support of mentors before coming to Toronto was another reason for Garuba to gravitate to the organization.
“Just being able to connect with people like former presidents Ray Williams, Stanley Julien and Marlon Reid who have done extremely well in their careers and are so well respected in the industry as seasoned professionals meant so much for me,” he pointed out.
Williams is a financial markets lecturer and National Bank Financial risk management solution group, government & institutional managing director; Julien is the managing director of the special accounts management unit at BMO Financial Group and Reid is the director of regulatory complaints at CIBC.
Starting out as a volunteer managing the website and its communications portfolio, the RBC senior manager successfully ran for vice-president, internal with responsibility for professional development and community outreach.
In 2016, Garuba was elected the organization’s 16th president, succeeding TD Bank product manager Javon Findlator.
The chartered professional accountant and certified fraud examiner is proud to be leading the organization into its third decade.
“We have incredible value for our members,” said Garuba who holds a Masters of Business Administration from Queen’s University Smith School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. “We like to focus on professional development and enhancing the soft skills that Blacks need to advance in their careers with the ultimate aim of making it into leadership positions. We are focussed on creating a pipeline of Black talent, starting from the high school level. We do that by encouraging individuals to consider a career in finance.”
Garuba spent the first 14 years of his life in Nigeria before coming to North America.
“In Nigeria, there are stereotypical professions like doctor, lawyer and accountant,” he said. “I was interested in business, but I wanted to get into a field that, when I came out of university, I would already have a profession. Accounting made the most sense. When you graduate from business school, you are an accountant. It helped with understanding how businesses work and that was what drove me into this space.”
Garuba came to Canada in 1999 when his father was assigned to Ottawa for a year as Nigeria’s High Commissioner.
The CAUFP has about 180 active members and a network of about 2,000.
Its supporters include Daouii Abouchere who was recognized with a Young Achiever Award.
The University of Toronto (U of T) student is a Toronto Global Forum adviser and Desautels African Business Initiative vice-president with responsibility for corporate relations.
“I first met this young lady about three years ago and was immediately struck by her desire for excellence and her ability to network efficiently,” said Garuba. “She’s also a polyglot and as multicultural as they come.”
Three years ago, Abouchere founded the U of T Black Ties which is a student organization tailored to the professional advancement of visible minorities on campus.
“I was trying to do the same thing on campus that the CAUFP is seeking to do for professionals,” she said. “That’s why I joined this organization about two years ago. I am able to do what I do because of the trailblazers before me that include many in CAUFP who have paved the way. It’s humbling to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants and to be recognized.”
Migrating from Egypt at age six, Abouchere graduated from West Hill Collegiate Institute before entering the U of T where she’s pursuing political science and economics studies.
The former Rotman School of Management research assistant and U of T head delegate at the Harvard World Model United Nations aspires to design economic policy and help underdeveloped communities in Africa.
Pat Gloudon, who retired on October 31, 2014 after 41 years with Scotiabank, was honoured for her unstinting support to CAUFP.
“This is someone you can also call on for help and she has given so much of her time to this organization and many other groups in the community,” said Williams.
Because of Gloudon, Scotiabank made significant contributions to a four-year youth development program and cotillion ball, Oshawa’s Club Carib which opened its own building in 1993, Malvern Methodist Church and the CAUFP 360 degree Mastermind program that supports young leaders in the financial industry.
Starting in the accounting department, she rose to the position of director of commercial retail money market
Gloudon chairs Eva’s Initiatives “Home for Life” highly successful auction held every spring. The money raised from this and another major charity event – “Taste Matters” – maintains youth shelters named after late postal clerk, dental technician and community activist Eva Smith who died 25 years ago.
Paget Warner, the organization’s first president, was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Both he and Gloudon were unable to attend the event because of urgent family commitments.
Warner is the principal at Kingsmont Investment Management, a strategic adviser at AIP Private Capital and funds manager of AIP Hedge Funds, AIP-Kingsmont Global Macro Fund I and AIP-Kingsmont Global Macro Fund II
He also served as vice-president and portfolio manager at Cassels Blaikie Management Ltd. (CB) where his primary responsibility was quantitative and fundamental research and analysis of the mining/oil and gas sectors of Toronto Stock Exchange, identifying investment opportunities in those sectors, establishing appropriate timing for buying and selling investments, and monitoring the execution of trading in recommended investment actions.
Before joining CB, Warner spent 16 years at National Trust Company where his primary focus was research and analysis and portfolio management in the oil and gas and mining areas.
The chartered financial analyst holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the U of T’s Rotman School of Management.
Brock University president and vice-chancellor Dr. Gervan Fearon delivered the keynote address at the event.
“You are in an important sector that is really at the tip of the arrow as to the kinds of implications for the Canadian and global economy,” he said. “There is, in many respects, no other sector in the globe that is doing some of the innovation and technological changes that you are doing. Consequently, you are seeing the impact of technology, whether it’s artificial intelligence, data analytics, deep computing or robotics. You are seeing those things at some level before other sectors. The changes and activities that are happening in your sector become a little bit of a prelude as to what we need to think about across all sectors of the economy.”
The other CAUFP board members are CIBC senior product manager Meryl Afrika (vice-president, external), Wells Fargo financial crimes consultant Vivienne Lutwama (vice-president, internal), RBC wealth management director Nadine Eugene (treasurer & director of finance), Connor, Clark & Lunn associate Tunde Akinyemi (corporate secretary), RBC inclusive recruitment specialist Hali Farah (professional development director), TD Bank senior compliance officer Derrick Raphael (community outreach director), Titika Active Wear project manager Darren Jordan (membership & analytics director), RBC department manager Nardia Campbell (events director) and Sun Life Financial advisor Michael Thorpe (business development manager).