OC alum Kayla Caruana was the youngest Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in Canada when she received her designation in January 2019, just 18 months after completing her program at the Okanagan School of Business.

She credits her professors at Okanagan College for the training and encouragement that led her to explore the CFP designation.

And Caruana was just getting started. Following the completion of her Bachelor of Business Administration from OC, during her last semester of studies she went on to found her own financial planning business.

Now, Caruana has partnered with her mom, Karen Erickson, to run a financial planning practice for the 55+ demographic focused on estate planning. The duo, Karen & Kayla – IG Private Wealth Management, was recognized as the Best of Kelowna’s Financial Advisor team in 2022 and again in 2023.

“I knew I wanted to have my own financial planning practice once I finished my degree because I was already working in that industry as an assistant to pay my way through school,” says Caruana. “I am an entrepreneur. I started my business the same year I finished my degree, practicing the skills I learned in class. The partnership OC has with FP Canada and encouragement from my professors helped me in taking the next steps to accreditation.”

The School of Business at OC is affiliated with professional regulatory bodies such as FP Canada. As students complete their training at OC, up to 80 per cent of their OC courses can apply towards their financial planning certification.

As a woman in the financial planning industry, Caruana is passionate about encouraging more women to consider finance as a career. The team they have built is women led, community focused and believes in professional designations. 

“Financial services can be a tough industry for women because you are a minority in the industry,” says Caruana. “But from my experience, the ability to empathize and build relationships gives women an advantage. My advice is to lean into those skills. Focusing on the relationship side will take you far in this industry.”

“Once you’ve reached a point in your career where you have something to give, I think it is important to give back,” says Caruana. “I gained so much from my time at OC – my training gave me the fundamentals to build my business.

“For me, giving back builds connection. And the way I can give back is with sharing financial knowledge. Helping our favourite people, seniors, with financial literacy, confidence and the skills to have an impact in their lives. That’s what fills me with happiness.”

Caruana gives back to the community through her advocacy work on title protection in her industry with the Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis) as well as her work with the Lake Country Rotary. She and her mom/business partner also run seminars in the community for financial literacy for seniors.

Learn more about the business programs offered at OC at okanagan.bc.ca/business.

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