Banks vie for new Canadians

By Vikram Barhat | July 13, 2011 | Last updated on July 13, 2011
2 min read

Newcomers to Canada are increasingly becoming an important client base for the Canadian financial services sector. Financial institutions are scrambling to roll out the red carpet to about 250,000 people arriving in Canada from around the world.

Most banks, for instance, are aligning their services and offers with the newcomers’ hopes and dreams of building a better life.

One of the basic building blocks of starting afresh in a new country is opening a bank account and establishing a credit history—a task that can be overwhelming for some newcomers unfamiliar with the process in Canada.

“Individuals who are new to the country tell us that getting their finances established is one of the most critical first steps in moving to Canada,” said Stephen Forbes, executive vice-president of marketing, communications and public affairs, CIBC. “In building a banking relationship their top priorities are having convenient access to their funds, knowing their money and valuables are safe, and establishing their credit here in Canada.”

Feeling both excited and anxious in their first few years, these new Canadians need all the financial help they can get. The banks are ready to step in and provide that support by offering tailor-made financial solutions to suit the needs of these newcomers.

In this regard, the larger financial companies have an edge. While an independent advisory shop may be able to serve clients in one or two languages beyond English, the banking and investments giants can assemble a virtual United Nations of advisors in the larger centres where new Canadians tend to settle.

“That also means being able to speak to an advisor—often in your preferred language—who understands your needs and can help you make the transition to Canada an easier one,” said Forbes.

Being emotionally prepared for obstacles and opportunities is also an integral part of settling in a new country.

According to an RBC poll, the best advice newcomers to Canada have for anyone looking to follow in their footsteps is to be mentally prepared, including being ready for any sacrifices that their new life may demand of them.

“Moving to a new country is a life-changing decision and being mentally prepared for the challenges of a different culture can really help ensure a successful move,” said Camon Mak, director, multicultural markets, RBC. “Many newcomers focus on the physical and financial changes that come with a move, but establishing a support network and connecting with the community can be just as important.”

More than half (58%) of respondents said mental preparation is key, with almost a third (30%) noted that sacrifices or tradeoffs may need to be made, while another 28% said being positive and patient will help achieve long-term results.

Established newcomers stressed that success in Canada is not just measured in financial or career terms. Almost half (46%) of newcomers who have already settled in Canada define success based on “mind/spirit”, including inner peace and strength, enjoying small daily events of life, and love.

Vikram Barhat