Funds Industry Profile 5 - Karen McAffee, Senior Manager for Financial Reporting at RBC3 December 2018
This is the fifth profile in a series of 12 profiles we will be publishing over the next three months to highlight professionals, their career paths and their experiences working in the funds industry. We interviewed professionals in a variety of firms, areas and roles in order to give a broad view of their experiences and the opportunities in the industry.
Karen McAffee, Senior Manager for Financial Reporting within the Investor & Treasury Services Division of Royal Bank of Canada talks about her current role and career at RBC, what she most enjoys, her proudest achievements and what she's looking forward to next year.
Describe your current role in a nutshell.
I am a Senior Manager for Financial Reporting within the Investor & Treasury Services Division of Royal Bank of Canada. The role has a number of aspects but primarily my team are responsible for delivering financial reporting to our fund clients. This encompasses audit management, financial statements preparation and review; and more recently the delivery of regulatory reporting
Tell us about your career so far.
I was always interested in finance. I graduated from Maynooth University with a B.A. (Joint Honours) in Economics and Finance. I started my career as a junior fund accountant with a fund administration company working my way up to account manager. During my tenure I started my Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) studies.
When I joined RBC as a supervisor, it was a rapid learning curve. The support I received from colleagues though was incredible. As my level of knowledge developed, I was promoted through the ranks with many opportunities to continue my development along the way. With an expanding team supporting a growing client base, resulting in increasing volumes and complex funds, our team continues to go from strength to strength.
During my time with RBC, I have experienced different financial statement systems, helped implement an outsourced model, and taken on new regulatory reporting. So it has been varied, challenging, exciting and rewarding.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
The wide variety of tasks coupled with the interaction with a broad number of people. For example, I can be at an external board meeting, come back to review a set of financial statements, attend a potential client presentation, look after people management tasks and catch up on emails - all in the one day. No two days are the same although overall there is always our set objectives within the annual audit cycles to meet the reporting needs of our clients.
Which achievement are you the most proud of?
Five years ago, I went to Malaysia for a few months to set up a new financial reporting team. This was a huge undertaking as the team consisted of new employees who needed to be trained in the audit process in a short timeframe. The days were long but rewarding and I always made sure I started each with a swim in an outdoor pool. Given the average January temperature in Kuala Lumpur is 25 degrees Celsius, it was one of the perks of the trip.
What are you looking forward to next year?
I will be part of an internal Securities Financing Transactions Regulations (SFTR) project team which, although in its early stages, will result in learning new skills, increase my regulatory knowledge as well as broadening my RBC network of colleagues.
What is the best lesson you have learned during your career in Funds?
If you work hard, collaborate and always act with integrity you will be recognised for your commitment, and career progression opportunities will arise.
As the Funds Industry positions itself for the future, how are our businesses and clients responding to industry trends?
There have been so many changes in recent years – change is a constant! Regulation has been a key conduit which has helped further protect underlying investors. The implementation of regulatory standards, though, has taken a significant amount of resource over the past few years and as a result the funds industry is behind in the ongoing evolution of technology. While other industries have already seen significant advancements (especially in the retail space), our industry has been behind the curve. But we are an industry that works through collaboration and we’re already seeing examples of this collectiveness through active participation in industry forums, discussing how disruptor technology can help the industry evolve - e.g. how can Blockchain, robotics, AI, etc. help solve the challenges of tomorrow and improve the underlying client experience while maintaining strong compliance. The funds industry needs to keep sight of the next generation of investors and the expectations they will have in how they expect to interact with our industry.
Describe your role in 3 words…
Busy, challenging, rewarding