On Corporate Compliance, the CPA, CA Designation, and the Language of Business

Staff Writer: Niki Non

As part of a data driven company, Catherine Chew deals with all the numbers. Since obtaining her BCom degree, Catherine has emerged as a star-problem solver, using her interest in financial information to propel her career forward.



What is Global Relay?

Global Relay is a Vancouver-born-and-bred company that has been around since 1999. We provide cloud archiving, compliance, and information governance services targeted at the financial sector. The majority of our clients are hedge funds, banks, financial institutions, broker dealers and investment advisors that need to adhere to the rules set out by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission), and other regulatory authorities. These governing bodies require that communications such as emails, IMs, and social media postings are archived and searchable.

Our solution, Global Relay Archive, captures all of the different communication streams and, processes, indexes, and archives them. For large clients, we can archive millions of messages each day. We also provide search functionality uses metadata (e.g. senders, receivers, keywords, attachments, and time-date stamps) to filter through stored the messages. Global Relay Archive can search billions of messages and return results in seconds! This allows internal audit departments to search the Archive for messages that contain certain problematic keywords or characteristics. For example, they can search for phrases like “guaranteed return” or “risk-free investment”  to determine if their traders are violating securities regulations.


What does an average day in the life of a Global Relay Corporate Controller look like?

Global Relay has grown 25 to 30 percent per year since 2008, and this year we’re trending for revenues above $50 million dollars. In a growing company, there are a lot of different issues that come up every day. As the Corporate Controller, I’m a manager in our fourteen-person accounting and finance department. I oversee the financial and tax reporting, and I’m in charge of forecasts and budgeting so my days vary quite a lot. I might be reviewing forecasts, budgets, and cash flow projections; analyzing how we’ve done in the past month; identifying trends; or trying to close the month end by approving journal entries, financial statements, and various internal reporting. As well, tax issues come up all the time as we expand to new US states and countries. This always keeps things interesting!  


How did you get to where you are today?

The controller role is a very common position to take after leaving public practice. I was a BCom at UBC in the Accounting option and had an internship with KPMG between my 3rd and 4th year. I finished my 4th year and took the summer off to travel to Europe before starting full-time in September 2009.  I received my CA destination in 2012 (I was the top UFE writer in Western Canada in 2011) and articled at KPMG in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Assurance group. I was there for three and a half years before I moved over to the Enterprise group for a year and a half as an Assurance Manager.  In the Enterprise group, I oversaw audit and assurance engagements with a focus on small to medium-sized businesses in a variety of industries – from hotels and hospitality management to online grocery stores, real estate developers, and forestry companies. It was fascinating to meet people from all these companies and all different walks of life.


What are the advantages of going into Accounting?

In general, accounting is the language of business. I didn’t take any business courses in high school, so I went into Sauder pretty green. I didn’t really know much about accounting – not even what a debit or credit was. I’ve come a long way since then! That aside, what I find most interesting about being a CPA, CA, and Controller is trying to make sense of the financial information  and present it in a way that is understandable to those who don’t have the same financial knowledge but need to be aware of the trends and current circumstances. The CPA, CA designation is also internationally recognized. You can travel anywhere with it! It’s also very versatile, which makes the rigorous training worth it!


Do you have any nicknames and if so why?

Chew or Chewie, for pretty obvious reasons!


Thank you, Catherine, for kindly lending us some of your time to do this interview. We can’t wait to hear more about Global Relay’s success in the near future!