What makes Toronto a great city for CAs?
Cheryl Meyer speaks to CAs in Toronto to find out what they love about the city – and their tips for new arrivals.
Toronto has become a magnet for CAs who not only desire a successful career, but who also value quality of life and an international flavour. It was even ranked as the best place to live by the Economist Intelligence Unit (part of The Economist magazine). But what makes it such a great place to live and work?
"Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities I've ever lived in," says Karen Ho James, CPA, CA, a forensic accountant who moved to Toronto 15 years ago and decided to stay. "There are a lot of growth opportunities."
Toronto employs almost 1.4 million people, and in 2014 over 5,000 new businesses were created in the city, according to reports put out by the City of Toronto.
Toronto is a vibrant, growing North American city. In terms of technology, sophistication, the financial machinery – we are as good as any.
The city is Canada's financial and business capital, and is home to many large, international banks, including RBC Royal Bank and CIBC, and large insurance companies including Sun Life Financial.
'Demand for accountants'
All of the Big Four accounting firms, along with mid-size and smaller firms, have flocked to the city. The Big Four have "a good steady stream of demand for accountants, and in particular chartered accountants," says Donald McColl, CA, a partner at Deloitte LLP and a resident of Toronto for over 30 years.
"Collectively, we look overseas to bring people here fairly often. There are not enough people in the market locally to satisfy the demand."
Toronto is more than just a financial hub, however. It boasts a high quality of life, is considered a safe city with its strict gun laws, is less expensive than many other major cities in terms of housing and offers its residents a plethora of things to do.
"Toronto is a vibrant, growing North American city," says Michael Graham, founder of Michael Graham Investment services Inc., and a long-time resident who loves the city. "In terms of technology, sophistication, the financial machinery – we are as good as any."
Tips for CAs moving to Toronto
Start work with one of the large accounting firms
From there, says, William Reid, CA, a Scottish and Canadian chartered accountant who moved to Toronto in 1979, use that experience and branch out from there. "It is a good launching point for any young career," he says. "Firms are social and you'll make good friends within these firms."
If possible, live Downtown or in Midtown initially
Toronto has a good public transportation system and most business and networking activity happens in the city. The city is full of condos that are affordable even to young chartered accountants. "Even on a modest salary as a financial professional, you can still afford to live right downtown," notes Pernille Jensen, CA, senior manager, global taxation at Celestica, an electronics manufacturer. "In London, that's not possible unless you make millions." Jensen moved to Toronto five years ago from London to work for KPMG, and is there to stay, she says.
If possible, acquire CA certification in Ontario
You can only call yourself a 'chartered accountant' in Toronto if you are a member of the CPA [Chartered Professional Accountants] Ontario, says Ho James. "Contact the Ontario institute to see what you need to do to become a member. It adds to your employability."
Be prepared for the weather – and don't avoid winter
"Accept winter and embrace it and enjoy it for what it is," says McColl. Toronto residents don't stay inside during the winter but instead enjoy a variety of outdoor events. "It pays to spend money on the right coat and boots and you're good to go," Jensen adds.
Connect with the ICAS community in Toronto
CAs in Toronto can connect with the ICAS community in the city. The community runs a number of events and networking opportunities for members. Contact ICAS to find out more about our international communities.
Do you live in Toronto? What do you love most about the city? Let us know in the comments below.