For the most part, Canada offers the world an open-door policy – and that’s a good thing for a country with a smaller population than the state of California.
This country needs newcomers. It needs their ideas, their energy, and their drive to propel the economy forward. And it needs their desire to live and raise their children in a better place, because that kind of hope and optimism will help keep Canada in touch with the ideals upon which it was founded.
These immigrants need access to a diverse range of financial services. It’s a crucial component of getting established in their new home that leads them to save, buy real estate, and develop a nest egg for both retirement and to pass to the next generation. Further, the financial services industry needs immigrants within its ranks who can build bridges between financial institutions and the array of ethnic communities.
A large percentage of new immigrants who choose a career path in financial services begin by building practices that cater to the needs of people with whom they have cultural ties. They establish operations in immigrant communities, offer services in native languages and are able to display a sensitivity for cultural traditions that’s often unavailable elsewhere.
The people and institutions who created these niche practices should be proud, because they’ve ensured a larger percentage of newly arrived Canadians have access to banking, mortgage, insurance and investment services. It’s a far cry from the earlier parts of the 20th century, when immigrants from non-English or French-speaking countries were forced to struggle along and hope for the best.
In all, these niche practices have a good thing going. But a game changer looms on the horizon. The children of these immigrants, by and large, are well assimilated and may not care about the ethnicity of the person who sits across the table when they acquire financial services. As long as the service is good, the fees fair, and the attention to detail in place, they’re on board.
Over time, too, the ethnic makeup of neighbourhoods in Canadian communities of all sizes will shift, and in some cases, centres of concentration will become less dense. And in cases where clients hail from places where financial institutions are corrupt, it will be the children who help their parents learn to accept that systems in Canada are safe.
These assimilated kids will also serve as translators when the parents sit down with advisors – and they may not consciously guide their parents to advisors who stem from their ethnic circles.
These changes will impact the way advisory businesses originally set up to cater to ethnic needs will evolve going forward. Indeed, quite a few product distribution and advisory firms originally designed to serve the Chinese and Indian communities have shifted their marketing focus to appeal to larger swaths of the Canada mosaic.
So, while there will always be newcomers requiring services to get started, advisors catering to the niche must monitor the changes as immigrant kids get comfortable in Canada.