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Human beings are all the same. We want to feel secure, a place to call home, and to know our children and health will be looked after.

The routes to fulfilling those needs are where we diverge, and advisors need to understand newcomers often take a broader view of the term advisor, and may ask your help choosing neighbourhoods and securing a mortgage for a first home. The questions they ask will reveal their attitudes about debt and risk comfort, and that will help when it’s time to talk investments.

You’ll also have to explain what is, and isn’t, covered by provincial health plans. Many newcomers haven’t experienced nationalized healthcare and don’t know how it will impact household spending.

If they have children, help them make the most of educational opportunities—top Canadian universities are bargains compared with many counterparts worldwide. But, they’re still not free, and immigrants often have shorter timeframes to bulk up RESPs, or may not be able to take full advantage of government grants.

Diminished savings horizons will likely extend to retirement investment and asset gathering. Longer lives, and longer waits for inheritances, mean estates will have to be handled carefully. And estate plans must also account for tax treaties between Canada and home countries.

By helping newcomers with these real issues, instead of fretting over connecting culturally, you’ll gain greater insight into their goals.

  1. Say welcome to cheap healthcare

    A new client recently moved Canada and wants to buy life and health insurance. One problem: He’s from the Middle East.

  2. Slow the real estate rush

    Many immigrant clients value property over less tangible forms of wealth, since a home is a tactile sign of success.

  3. Handle long-distance communication challenges

    It’s tough holding meetings when people’s money, properties and families are separated by continents and clocks. But advisors must talk to decision-makers, even if it slows down planning, says Narinder Gaday, a planner with RBC in Vancouver.

  4. Cope with inter-jurisdictional tax problems

    Many immigrant clients incur penalties for accidentally disobeying tax laws. When that happens, they may blame you, so learn the common errors. Plus, read Ways to save cross-border tax

  5. Show the road to retirement

    For many people moving to Canada, retirement’s low on the priority list. Most who come here under the family-class category think first about making ends meet, says Tony Mahabir, CEO of Canfin Financial Group.

  6. Reel in education grants

    Many people move to give their children access to better education. Yet depending on when those children immigrate, they may not be able to take advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant. Plus, read RESPs: Just the facts

Originally published in Advisor's Edge