Our Volunteers in Action: Getting to Know Our Audit Committee with Thomas Gagné, CFA
Thomas Gagné, CFA, has been working in Montreal’s financial industry for over 20 years. His involvement with various associations dates back to his university days, and his commitment to sharing his knowledge and passing along his insights has only grown since then. Today, he is the Treasurer of CFA Montréal and the President of the Society’s Audit Committee.
Read on to find out more about why he is a volunteer and what he and his fellow Audit Committee members do.
Tell us a little more about CFA Montréal’s Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee is one of three strategic committees formed by CFA Montréal. Its role is to oversee the financial management of the Society, identify any risks to which it may be exposed and circumvent any obstacles that stand in the way of achieving its objectives.
More tangibly, the members of the Audit Committee work to pinpoint issues of concern and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. We are also in charge of implementing and enforcing various policies, specifically those regarding financial operations and risk management.
Given that CFA Montréal’s very purpose is to promote excellence in financial management, we have to be very careful in how we go about things!
What prompted you to volunteer with the Audit Committee?
After I completed my master’s degree in finance at the Université de Sherbrooke, I moved to Montreal and started studying for my CFA exams. I won a scholarship through CFA Montréal, and that was the spark that would slowly turn into a flame. I thought I’d like to get more involved in the Society, so I could put my own skills to use and stay connected with my financial industry peers.
It’s a path that would eventually lead me to the Board of Directors, where I’m currently serving as the Treasurer and President of the Audit Committee, although I touched on several other aspects along the way.
The first thing I contributed to was planning several CFA Montréal–hosted events. Then I joined a committee focusing on career tools, which I eventually ended up chairing. That gave me the opportunity to meet other financial professionals and learn more about their own career journeys. I used this to write a series of articles that were intended to inspire the CFA Montréal community. Following this, I joined the panel of judges for the mentoring program, which pairs future financial leaders with seasoned professionals.
In the years that followed, an opportunity arose to join the CFA Montréal Board of Directors. I started out as the President of the Fintech Committee, right after it had been set up. I was very interested in this position, as it was closely aligned with what I was already doing at Desjardins in terms of fintech partnerships and investments. The treasurer’s position subsequently opened up and that’s where I’ve been for three years now. Through this role, I had a say in setting up and overseeing the Audit Committee.
What is one of the initiatives you are particularly proud of?
One of the first things the Audit Committee did was to carry out a risk assessment. That prompted us to start thinking about how CFA Montréal would prepare for certain challenges and situations, and how it would go about guarding against operational and financial risks. This is an important exercise for any association of our size.
Doing this required our committee members to develop an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of CFA Montréal as well as its core mission, objectives and strategic planning process. I am very proud to say that today we have a robust plan in place, which is executed and updated yearly.
I feel very lucky to be working with my fellow committee members, whose dedication is equalled only by their sense of ethics and integrity. They are incredible colleagues who are instrumental to being able to fulfil CFA Montréal’s mission with confidence.
What would you say to anyone who would like to join the Audit Committee?
As volunteers at CFA Montréal, we are called upon to work with other industry professionals who, like us, feel driven to support the Society’s mission. Actively contributing to these efforts and seeing the positive impacts that result from them is very exciting indeed. Our strategic committees are shaping the future of CFA Montréal. And I know that there are solid foundations in place to support our long-term viability.