In the fall of 2017, a small group of volunteers got together and partnered with YWCA FOCUS@Work to put on free finance workshops for women in Vancouver, BC.

We are motivated by the fact that financial literacy is an area that many people would like to improve and a study by Statistics Canada carried out in 2014 showed that Canadian women have lower levels of financial literacy and less confidence in their ability to manage their finances than Canadian men.  Since we also believe that women would feel more comfortable talking about money in a group composed of other women, we decided to hold the workshops for women only.

Focus@Work’s goal is to help women achieve economic and employment sustainability. FAW is a free 12-week job search program for women that includes three weeks of skills enhancement workshops followed by nine weeks of one-to-one career coaching and group and peer support.   The program establishes a structured place for women to move out of an isolated job search to a place where they build connections, showcase their strengths, express their challenges and participate in a safe environment that fosters accountability, confidence and self-esteem. For more information about the FOCUS@Work program please call 604-699-1788

Please keep in mind that the information offered in our workshops or other material is for educational purposes only and is not financial advice.



The workshops being offered for the October 2019 session are stand-alone seminars and do not have any prerequisites.  The workshops are held on a Tuesday or Wednesday as noted starting at 6 pm.  Details for each workshop are provided below so you can select the one(s) that meet your needs.

Since space is limited, please do not sign up for a workshop unless you are sure that you can attend.  We do allow for a certain number of no-shows, but some of our past workshops had empty seats even though we had to turn away people. 

Please keep in mind that the workshops we offer are for educational purposes only and not intended to provide participants with personal financial advice.  Having said that, we welcome lots of participation with questions and examples that broaden everyone’s educational experience.

October 1 (Tuesday) – Talking about Money / Investment Services at Canadian Banks

Part 1 of this workshop will be a discussion on how we can talk about financial matters with our families, friends and financial service providers.  The subject of money is often considered taboo or in bad taste but being able to talk about it can help in many ways.  For example, we can find out:

  • How much of a raise to ask for.
  • What we should be paying in rent.
  • Whether or not our expenses are normal or unusually high.
  • What is our family financial situation and are we meeting our goals.

Our presenter has experience leading this discussion with different groups and will give practical tips on how to talk about money in ways that help everyone.   

Part 2 is about the services that banks provide with respect to investing and wealth management.   Most of us have some connection with one of the large Canadian banks for basic banking services which makes them a logical choice for accessing investment solutions for our savings.  However, wealth management covers a wide range of products and services and it is difficult to know who to talk to and how to find ones most suitable to us.

Our presenter is currently working in this area where she focuses on providing her clientele with “practical advice that works as advertised”.  She will guide us through the banking system and show us where to find appropriate services especially for those starting out with modest savings.  Presenters:


Janine Guenther has 27 years of experience in the financial services industry working in insurance, investment management and banking.  She is currently a Portfolio Manager and Investment Advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy / CIBC Wealth Management.  Janine holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba along with the Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations and is also past president of CFA Vancouver, past President’s Council Representative (PCR) for Canada on the global Board of CFA Institute.

Register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/talking-about-money-investment-services-at-canadian-banks-womens-workshop-tickets-71014318739

October 9 (Wednesday) – Two Key Elements of Investing: Bonds and Asset Mix

The financial world has many different facets and this workshop is an opportunity to gain a better understanding of investing by focusing on two important elements.  Our presenters will explain bonds and asset mix in a basic, easy to understand manner and then talk about how to apply this knowledge for your own financial situation.  Here are some of the questions that will be answered in the workshop:

  • What are bonds?
  • How do the price of bonds change?
  • What role do bonds play in a portfolio?
  • How do I figure out what asset mix is appropriate for my portfolio?
  • How can asset mix change over my life?


Karey Irwin joined Leith Wheeler in 2006 as an Investment Funds Advisor after nine years with Phillips, Hager & North in Vancouver and Calgary. Karey provides investment advice to individual investors and discretionary portfolio management for Private Clients. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance from UBC, holds the Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Investment Manager designations, and has completed Levels 1 and 2 of the Chartered Financial Analyst program.

Cindy Huang joined Leith Wheeler in February 2012. She is responsible for the discretionary investment management of Private Client portfolios. She graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and holds a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. She has served as a mentor or helped to develop mentorship initiatives for several organizations, including Leith Wheeler, SFU Beedie School of Business and CFA Society Vancouver.

Register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/two-key-elements-of-investing-bonds-and-asset-mix-tickets-71014900479

October 15 (Tuesday) – Investment Strategies for Beginners

This is a basic workshop for women who would like to know about how to invest for the short-term and the long-term.  We cover concepts and terminology around investing such as:   

  • Know your investment goals, timelines and risk tolerance
  • Registered savings plans and taxable investments
  • Important features of different investment products
  • Sample investment strategies for different timelines
  • How to find an investment advisor

Please note that this workshop is very similar to the one held on June 29, 2019.  For those interested in a workshop that builds on the information presented in this one, we are planning to develop a “level 2” session for February 2020. 


Kathy Leavens is a CFA Charter holder and completed a M.B.A. and B.Sc. at UBC. She has over 30 years of experience in the investment industry. In 2014, she retired and is now involved in several volunteer projects related to the betterment of women and children in our community.

Register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/investment-strategies-for-beginners-workshop-for-women-tickets-71015355841

October 22 (Tuesday) – Preparing Your Income Tax Return

This workshop is for any woman who would like to learn more about how to do their income tax returns from a professional accountant. The concepts covered in this workshop include: 

  • How to complete a basic personal tax return
  • What to do about self-employment income
  • Why it makes sense to file your tax return, even if you don’t owe money
  • Benefits available to lower-income taxpayers in Canada
  • Where to find help


Sabrina Scardillo, CPA/CA, is currently working for Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group as a tax specialist.  She has extensive knowledge in both personal and corporate tax with over 19 years experience. 

Register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/preparing-your-income-tax-return-workshop-for-women-tickets-71015632669


We are constantly working to improve and expand our program and workshops.  Whether you have participated in a workshop already, or just interested in financial literacy for women, please feel free to complete our survey:


At the end of the survey, you have the option to also include contact details if you would like to find out about upcoming workshops.