Immigration nation

By Philip Porado | December 12, 2008 | Last updated on December 12, 2008
2 min read

Canada is changing.

I took my oath of citizenship two months ago, and the judge who presided over the ceremony pointed out the 83 of us assembled hailed from 67 different countries. A Brazilian man in front of me brought along a large Canadian flag and asked all of us to sign it as a memento of his joining the mosaic. The signatures flowing across the red and white banner were in a variety of scripts—Arabic, Amharic, Cyrillic, Farsi.

In our recent national election, a larger number of what Ottawa calls visible minorities were sent to seats in Parliament. More and more, we see Canada’s diversity. These newcomers, and I count myself among them, are motivated to do well here and provide for their families. From the best and brightest we’ll likely see some of the next-generation Made in Canada products to set the world on its ear.

We’re all distillations of our new home and our birth lands. We carry our cultural perceptions in the bags that arrive with us, including beliefs about money; how we’ll spend it and save it; and how we’ll invest. Many cultures have taboos against debt, some religions prohibit the earning or paying of interest, and a lot of new arrivals place no trust in banking institutions because they were faulty in their homelands.

Some find capital markets intimidating, preferring to allocate incomes toward more tangible assets like real estate. And of those who do invest, few have likely experienced the levels of market volatility now taking place—and are likely wondering what their advisors have gotten them into.

This month, we’ve taken the opportunity to address those issues, first in our Cover Story, which starts on page 24; and then in our special Go West section, which begins on page 35 with an examination of estate issues for immigrants. In many ways, coping with culture is a logical extension of the know-yourclient process. Advisors who hone their sensitivities and probe what makes their clients tick not only have an opportunity to encounter new perspectives, they lay foundations for lifelong loyalties.

In my home country, people have a saying, “Money has only one colour, green.” The phrase is used to remind people with insensitive leanings that their bigotry can hit them in the pocketbook. In Canada, the money is already multihued. Take advantage of that.

Philip Porado