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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Get an edge - become certified

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

Immanuel Tunde-Sobiye always knew he wanted to work in financing. In his native Nigeria, Tunde-Sobiye completed an MBA in business and marketing in 1993 before working as a credit officer at a local bank. It wasn't until much later, though, after emigrating to Canada, that he would discover his new passion: personal financial planning.
The financial planning certificate program is a two-year program offered by the George Brown College continuing education department. It was developed in conjunction with RBC Financial Group and the Financial Planners Standards Council, the standard-setting and licensing organization for certified financial planners (CFP).

Candidates must complete the program, meet a work experience component and pass an exam.
  • The program consists of seven courses that cover areas such as retirement planning, investment planning, insurance, estate planning, ethics, risk management and more.
  • Prerequisites:
    Grade 12 English with a grade of C or better, and Grade 12 mathematics with a mark of 60% or better.
  • diploma or university degree in business or a related subject is recommended. Students must maintain a C average in order to receive a certificate.
  • For more information, call 416-415-5000, ext. 2163 or e-mail
  • To find out about what a CFP does and the examination process, visit the website of the Financial Planners Standards Council at

  • "Most west African countries are not organized in financial planning," says Tunde-Sobiye, 38. "I did many other things, but not planning people's entire lives, helping them plan for retirement. It was something I'd never done before."

    When he and his wife arrived in Toronto in 2001, Tunde-Sobiye began exploring his career options, and soon came across the financial planning certificate program at George Brown College, a brand new offering by the school's continuing education department.

    He signed up for the two-year program and immersed himself in the fundamentals of financial planning: investment planning, estate planning, ethics, retirement planning, risk management and more.

    The program proved to be a natural fit for Tunde-Sobiye, so much so that after his first year, he was hired on as a certified financial planner (CFP) by RBC Financial Group.

    "It was an excellent program, especially for me coming in as a new immigrant -- it helped me bridge the gap in training," he says. "It has enabled me to achieve my professional goals."

    The financial planning program came to be as a result of tremendous growth in the field, and mounting public interest in a more accessible educational route.

    "We noticed a huge growth in the financial service sector," says Munir Noormohamed, business co-ordinator of continuing education at George Brown. "We also got quite a few phone calls and e-mails from interested people. We knew we had enough interest to build on."

    Noormohamed spent time observing the school's full-time program to see what elements needed to be covered. RBC Financial Group also came on board to help develop the curriculum.

    After two years of planning, the accredited program was introduced to the public in 2001. The program is quite intense, Noormohamed says, and while a diploma or degree is not required for entry, it is recommended.

    "There's a tremendous amount of work and we do lose many students," he says. "Less than a third finish, but when it drops down to that, those are the ones who are serious enough to be CFPs."

    To become a designated CFP, candidates must complete the program, complete a work experience requirement and pass an exam issued by the Financial Planners Standards Council, the licensing organization for the profession.

    Noormohamed says the program attracts a range of students, from those looking for a career change, to those seeking to stay current in a highly competitive field.

    "We get a lot of people who work at banks or elsewhere in the financial industry who are interested in possible promotions at work," he says. "The only way to get an edge is to be certified and have designations. People who are well educated need to be one notch above."

    Tunde-Sobiye was among the first graduates of the program in 2003, at which point he successfully completed his CFP exam. In addition to working for RBC, he was also invited to be a teacher in the program. Last month he began teaching the first course, fundamentals of financial planning.

    "Now I can give back to the people who fed me," he says. "It's really important for me to give back."

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