Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) Program Provides Unique, Rewarding Career Path


The reason finance and accounting is such a coveted field for new graduates is that it offers a lot of opportunity and room to grow.

Although many people are familiar with the common accounting and finance designations – CGA, CA, CMA, CFA, etc. – awareness of the Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) designation is relatively low, especially among young people.

Whether you’re a young member of a First Nations, Metis or Inuit community who wants to contribute to the financial growth and successful management of your community, or you’re simply passionate about starting a finance career that involves working with Canada’s Indigenous communities, this designation is a unique way to develop the skills knowledge you’ll need to successfully navigate the complex world of Aboriginal financial management.

What is a Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager?

The CAFM program, offered by the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA Canada), is a culmination of financial and business training, work experience and knowledge of Indigenous histories, cultures and social issues.

According to AFOA Canada, CAFMs form the backbone of Aboriginal government administrations, and are key decision-makers and leaders in their organizations and communities. There are currently over 300 Certified Aboriginal Financial Managers in Canada.

How do you become a CAFM?

How you become a CAFM depends on the level of education you have before pursuing the designation, but in most cases you must complete 14 courses, write the CAFM exam, and have at least two years of full-time relevant work experience in private- or public-sector Aboriginal organizations, which must be verified by two independent sponsors.

Four of the courses are offered only online through AFOA Canada, nine courses are delivered by AFOA-accredited universities and colleges throughout Canada, and one – law – is offered both online and at post-secondary institutions.

If you’re currently a student considering the CAFM designation, AFOA Canada also offers a student membership at a cost of $25 per year.

How does being a CAFM impact your career?

Obtaining the CAFM designation means you are considered to be knowledgeable in the areas of financial and management operations. The program prepares you in four competency areas, including technical knowledge, such as finance and financial planning; general management, including human resources and communication; leadership; and professionalism.

CAFM recipients can work in finance, program management and human resources in a variety of positions, including Director of Finance, Office Manager, Business Consultant or Director of Operations.

As the only designation program for Aboriginal finance at the national and international level, this program trains people to work in Indigenous communities, organizations and governments; First Nations, Metis and Inuit political associations and non-profit organizations; Aboriginal business, as well as banks and financial institutions and economic development projects.

Thus, graduates can work in a variety of positions in many different industries, but most importantly you can use their knowledge and expertise both inside and outside Indigenous communities.

At the same time, the CAFM designation can also serve as a stepping stone to further training. After successfully completing the CAFM Professional Examination, recipients can start at level four of the Certified General Accountant (CGA) Program of Professional Studies.

Once you become a CAFM, you must remain a member of AFOA Canada and meet the “Maintenance of Certification” requirement by completing at least 20 hours of continuing professional education annually.

Financial Services Week

Photo credit: Elder In The House by Thompson Rivers University on Flickr

About the author

Danielle Lorenz is a long-time contributor to the Career Incubator. Danielle is a PhD student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta. When procrastinating from schoolwork, you will find Danielle lurking on several social media platforms and trying to befriend the snowshoe hares on the U of A campus.