In the financial services industry, baby boomers and the echo generation represent significant markets. But there’s another group that warrants attention, as Brigitte Parent, Sun Life Financial’s Senior Vice President, Individual Insurance and Wealth, explains.

“New Canadians are a huge part of our population. Every year, thousands of people from around the world choose to make Canada their home. As they settle in, many need advice about saving, financial protection and retirement. Our industry has an exceptional opportunity to make a difference in these people’s lives — and those who make the most of it are bound to build their business.”

Our first article in this ’emerging markets’ series focused on the Chinese. Our second article explores the Filipino market.

In 2011, Canada’s foreign-born population equaled approximately 6,775,800 people and represented 20.6% of the total population — the highest proportion among the G8 countries.*

*2011 National Household Survey

Joem Balbiran-Weinkauf, a Sun Life Financial advisor based in Lloydminster, Alberta, was born and raised in the Philippines. In 2001 at age 24, she arrived in Canada. Many others soon followed. Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirms that from 2003 to 2012, 234,922 Filipinos came to this country as permanent residents. And according to the Philippine Embassy Ottawa, they’re among Canada’s most active citizens, contributing to the economic, social and cultural dynamism of this country. In fact, since 2006 when the immigrant labour force data series started, immigrants born in the Philippines have had the highest employment rate of all groups, including those born in Canada, who ranked second.

“Many want to earn a better living so they can support their family back home,” affirms Balbiran-Weinkauf. “The reason I came to Canada was to earn enough money to send my sister to medical school and build a house for my family” — both of which she worked hard to accomplish before moving onto her next goal.

Did you know?

According to the most recent information available from Statistics Canada:

  • Women make up a particularly large proportion of the Filipino community. This is especially true of women in their prime working years. In 2001, 57% of the Filipino community (compared to 51% of all Canadians) was female. In the 25 to 44 age group, 62% of the Filipino community was female; in the 45 to 64 age group, 63% was female.
  • Canadians of Filipino origin are much more likely than the rest of the population to have a university degree. In 2001, 31% age 15 and over had either a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree. This was more than double the figure for the overall adult population.
  • Canadians of Filipino origin with post-secondary qualifications are more likely to hold degrees in highly technical fields.

“Once the first family member is settled, many Filipinos want to bring the rest of their family to Canada to become permanent residents and experience a better way of life.” In her case, she brought over her mother and three sisters — one sister is Lloydminster’s first Filipino doctor; one is Lloydminster’s first Filipino immigration consultant; the third is a successful Sun Life advisor in Calgary — and has since helped many other Filipino families.

For newcomers, Balbiran-Weinkauf begins with the basics.

“Financial products and terminology are often new to them. So it’s important to start by educating them about the types of products and services available in Canada — how they work and how they can help. Once they have this knowledge, they’re often interested in learning more.”

Otherwise, at decision time, there could be a tendency to ‘follow the crowd.’

“Some can be people-pleasers,” says the advisor. For example, unless they’re familiar with life, health and wealth solutions or work with an advisor they trust, family members and friends may have a big influence on their decisions. So Balbiran-Weinkauf puts a high priority on being visible and accessible to this demographic, citing community involvement as a particularly effective way to reach out, build trust and make connections. Among her most successful community-based initiatives are:

  • Seminars (organized by the advisor and her team, featuring multiple speakers including Balbiran-Weinkauf, immigration consultants and housing representatives), and
  • Sponsorships relevant to the Filipino community.

“I enjoy working with this market, educating them and helping them build a life in Canada, as I have. My experience is they’re very hospitable and hardworking. It’s my pleasure to help them.”

For advisors interested in knowing more about Canada’s emerging Filipino market and their approach to financial and retirement planning, Balbiran-Weinkauf offers some insight.

Insurance – Many opt for permanent or participating insurance. “They like the idea of paying premiums for a limited number of years (and they also appreciate) the cash value,” she says, but be cautious. When Filipinos first come to Canada — before they buy a home or a vehicle or incur other major expenses — they may be able to afford a larger monthly premium. Then, when they make major purchases, they’ll need more coverage that will mean bigger premiums — and some won’t be able to afford them. “When you sit down together, carefully consider the client’s one- and five-year financial situation and advise accordingly.”

As for health-care coverage, given the high proportion of women in the Filipino market and women’s longer life expectancies, long term care insurance is certainly worth exploring.

Retirement – “Like many, they believe in saving. But in their first years in Canada, their immediate needs are the priority … paying off their expenses in coming here, buying their first home and vehicle, getting insurance and more. Many also send money to relatives back home … and any savings they have are often emergency funds.”

To encourage the retirement conversation, she suggests a small contribution — $25 or $50 a month, based on what a client can afford — and a conservative approach to investing. She also urges advisors to learn as much as they can about each client’s risk tolerance, investment knowledge and financial position: “Make good use of the ‘know-your-client’ process.”

Getting started

As the Filipino population and community continues to grow in Canada, advisors have a tremendous opportunity to encourage discussions about building and protecting savings, protecting families, covering future health needs and planning for retirement. To help start these conversations, use the Money for Life whiteboard videos from Sun Life Financial.

To learn more about these and other available resources, talk with a Sun Life Sales Director.

Did you know?

  • The Philippine Embassy Ottawa confirms that Philippine relations with Canada started in 1896 when Sun Life Financial opened a branch in Manila.
  • There are approximately 150 Filipino languages. Pilipino (also called Filipino) is based on Tagalog and shares a place with English as an official language. “If an advisor can speak (a little) Tagalog, most Filipinos will be very impressed,” shares Balbiran-Weinkauf.

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