Fil-Am finance professionals offer resources, scholarship  | Inquirer

Fil-Am finance professionals offer resources, scholarship 

ISFFA officers being inducted. CONTRIBUTED

CHICAGO–How do you ask your boss for a raise? Do you need a scholarship grant to supplement your college costs?  Did you just move to the area and have no luck with job hunting?

Look no further for help. Turn to The International Society of Filipinos in Finance and Accounting (ISFFA) which offers mentoring on career decisions, scholarship grants, and venues for networking for professionals in the financial and accounting field.

It is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation whose goal is to assist, educate, train and mentor emerging professionals, both domestically as well as globally.

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ISFFA has area chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Officers of the ISFAA Chicago Chapter was inducted in August 2013.

The 2017 ISFFA Chicago Chapter held its Induction dinner on October 20 at Victoria in the Park Banquet in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  Special guest speaker Consul General Generoso Calonge discussed the current economic conditions of the Philippines while Keynote speaker Clarita Santos, MPH, of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois shared in her remarks how she negotiated a higher salary.

“Present your request and listen to their offer, then tell them you’ll think about it and will get back to them the next day,” Santos said. Determined to get what she deserved, she was able to secure a higher salary offer than her initial request. To this day, she is very glad of her decision.



Besides mentoring in career decisions, ISFAA offers a chance for professionals to improve other skill sets.

“This is a great organization to develop one’s soft skills [interpersonal skills to help you successfully interact with others in the workplace],” said Andrew Guerrero, 2017 Chicago Chapter president.


“What attracted me to this organization are things that are not taught in high school — leadership, community service, mentorship and scholarship,” he added.

“One of the biggest things I learned in my four years of membership is that there is no limit on how many mentors you will have or need in your life—if there are people willing to guide you that you trust, let them in,” Guerrero explained.

The seven top-most important soft skills employers look for are acting as a team player, flexibility, effective communication, problem-solving and resourcefulness, accepting feedback, having confidence and creative thinking, according to


ISFFA also provides scholarships grants to students domestically and globally.

Chapter member Kathlyn Talapian, who is now vice president of External Affairs, received a scholarship grant in 2014 from the ISFFA National Conference when she was doing an internship.

ISFFA member Patrick Alforque, whom she met at an internship, encouraged her to join and be involved.

“It was exciting to find a group of welcoming professionals that share the same heritage and values, and were very eager to mentor young accountants. I was mentored by a lot of former officers of the chapter like Maria Balita, Stella Santos, and Mavie Valera who always took the time to check on my studies and career and advised me on opportunities to pursue based on their experiences and expertise,” she said.

“I hope to give back and support as well Filipino students who are starting their careers,” Talapian added.

During the induction dinner, a new grant called the Floresca CPA Review Fund was introduced by outgoing president Arvin Floresca. It provides a CPA review opportunity to financially-challenged accounting graduates to pursue their dream of becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines.

“The Floresca CPA Review Fund, along with other sponsors, committed to provide the most up-to-date review materials to 15 members this year,” Guerrero stated.

Members will contribute to the fund on an annual basis based on fund-raising efforts and individual pledges from its members.

ISFFA also provides opportunities for networking and professional development.

There are seminars and workshops on various business topics, the most recent of which is a professional leadership seminar which we will hold in October of next year,” Guerrero said.

Mark Tan, Vice President of Mentoring, offers “Speed Mentoring,” which is a networking event in which a mentee can meet as many mentors/leaders/professionals within a 1-2 hour period timeframe.

“It’s an opportunity for a mentee to meet different mentors to work with,” he said.


ISFFA understands the complex situation of new immigrants who have not yet assimilated into the American way of life.

The organization is aware that “most newly arrived individuals find themselves stretched financially, due to the big gap in the currency exchange and the comparatively very high cost of living.

Such individuals often have extreme difficulty in finding jobs – not only in their chosen field of study or experience, but in virtually all professions. This creates additional difficulties in providing immediate support for their families.”

Common obstacles experienced are speech, business development, medical and dental, the U.S. banking system, lifestyle, personal practices and cultural differences. They can find a support network in ISFFA.

“Along with workshops and seminars, the organization is looking into hosting a Shadow program for students to visit firms and get a first-hand experience of the life of accountants,” Guerrero said.

It also aims to provide assistance to Filipino accountants that have moved to Illinois from other states or countries to assist them in their professional transition.

ISFFA Chicago Chapter induction dinner was sponsored by Adelfia LLC, Abbvie, Anixter, MB Financial Bank, Madrid Crost Law Group, Opulene Skin Care and Jennifer Alba.

For more information about the Chicago chapter, visit

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TAGS: Finance, fund, mentoring, scholarships
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