Navigating the World of Money Management: McMaster World Congress Focuses on Financial Literacy

February 14, 2024 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Christian Barone, Co-Chair, McMaster World Congress 2023/24

McMaster World Congress team

McMaster World Congress (MWC) celebrated its 45th annual conference February 1-2, 2024.

Leading business professionals came to campus to share their unique perspectives from the world of business. Over two days, conference attendees heard from small-to-large wealth managers, selection specialists, advisors, risk directors, strategy and many more.

Attendees gained real-world insights from professionals who shared their knowledge and expertise, allowing for a diverse set of ideas at the conference. Four notable McMaster alumni speakers presented this year including: Derek Brenzil, Alex Pogacean, Mark Perkins, and Paul Lee-Chin. These exemplary speakers are a direct showcasing of what is possible as a McMaster graduate, and the many paths that are open to students following their degree.

Focusing on financial literacy

Financial literacy was selected as this year’s theme in the midst of rising interest rates and recession fears. In this economic environment, MWC saw a great opportunity to empower attendees with the knowledge of leading business professionals. Improving financial literacy skills leads to effective personal finance management – a skill to be grown and nurtured throughout one’s lifetime. Conference topics focused on areas to help students make financial decisions and gave attendees an opportunity to gain a different perspective on their wealth.

The conference provided an opportunity for students to learn about personal finance, investment management, debt, taxes, and budgets in a non-academic setting. We believe that by empowering McMaster students with financial literacy knowledge, they will be better off going forward in a continually changing economic landscape.


Day 1 Highlights

Michael Kovacs presenting
Michael Kovacs, President & Chief Executive Officer at Harvest ETFs discusses “Equity Based Investment Products”.
Derek Brenzil presenting
Derek Brenzil, Portfolio Manager & Head of Institutional Business at Yorkville Asset Management, and McMaster graduate, shares insights on “Refining Portfolio Construction – An Institutional Perspective”.
Rod White and Alex Pogacean presenting
Rod White (right), Portfolio Manager at Scotia Wealth Management and Alex Pogacean (left), Associate Portfolio Manager at Scotia Wealth Management and McMaster graduate, share their insights on “Planning, communication, and evidence-based investing”.

Rod White, Portfolio Manager and Alex Pogacean, Associate Portfolio Manager at Rod White Financial Group, Scotia Wealth Management

In a fireside chat, Rod and Alex discussed “The Keys to Wealth Management in 2023 and beyond.” They provided a high-level overview of what Rod White Financial Group does and how the audience should view their finances going forward. A point that resonated with the audience was “there is always a reason to sell,” and that investing requires a level-head, rather than following news headlines. Additionally, Rod and Alex provided comprehensive answers to the audience’s questions in regard to the wealth management business, sales experience and Alex’s “elevator pitch”.

Paul Taylor presenting
Paul Taylor, Vice President & Portfolio Manager at Mackenzie Multi-Asset Strategies Team spoke to attendees about “Asset Allocation, Equities Management”.
Mark Perkins presenting
Mark Perkins, Chief Operating Officer at FirstOntario Credit Union, and McMaster graduate, discusses “Responsible Credit”.

Mark Perkins, Chief Operating Officer, FirstOntario Credit Union

Mark’s presentation focused on introducing the audience to credit unions, FirstOntario, and tips for personal finance management going forward. Mark provided key insights on his position as COO, the credit union model of financial institutions, and financial topics including budgeting, education costs, savings goals, and investment products.


Caitlin Bryant presenting
Caitlin Bryant, Strategy & Operations Lead, Commercial and Money Movement Solutions at Visa Canada shares insights on “Driving Financial Literacy & Inclusion through Open Banking”.

Trevor Mapplebeck presenting
Trevor Mapplebeck, Managing Director & National Client Advisory at Marsh McLennan discusses “Strategic and Alternative Risk”.

Day 2 Highlights

Stan Konda and John Hollingshead presenting
Stan Konda (left), Financial Advisor at Equity Associates Inc. shares insights on the “Importance of Investing Early, Dollar Cost Averaging, Common Mistakes Investors Make. John Hollingshead (right), District Vice President at Fidelity Investments Canada discusses “Investing for Success & the Value of Financial Advice”.
Blake Cluff presenting
Blake Cluff, Associate Portfolio Manager & Wealth Advisor at Assante Capital Management Ltd. discusses “Institutional Investing for the Retail Client”.
Paul Lee-Chin presenting
Paul Lee-Chin, Private Client Portfolio Manager at Mandeville Private Client Inc., and McMaster graduate, shares his insights on “Mentoring Wealth Management”.

Paul Lee-Chin, Portfolio Manager, Mandeville Private Client Inc.

Paul discussed Mandeville’s investment philosophy, how investment opportunities are identified, and industry megatrends to be aware of including clean energy and infrastructure. Paul is a proud Hamiltonian and supporter of philanthropic initiatives in the area. He ended his keynote with a profound message to the audience: “Find people that you truly aspire to be like and learn from.”


Dennis Mitchell presenting
Dennis Mitchell, CEO & CIO at Starlight Capital speaks to conference delegates about “Real Assets”.

Dennis Mitchell, CEO & CIO, Starlight Capital

It didn’t take long for the CEO and CIO of Starlight to break the ice with the audience using a Michael Jordan vs LeBron James GOAT debate prompt. After providing a brief overview of Starlight’s history and identity, he explained Starlight’s investing approach and highlighted their strategic focus on real assets and infrastructure.

Prakash Koirala presenting
Prakash Koirala, Founder of FINLIT Nepal discusses “Embracing Financial Behaviour in our Body, Mind and Soul”.

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