Scotiabank engages with potential newcomers

How the bank works with organizations to guide potential customers at various stages of the immigration process.

With 235,000 new immigrants expected to arrive in Canada every year, according to Statistics Canada, brands are demonstrating greater urgency in developing marketing campaigns and initiatives that speak directly to the group’s unique set of needs.

But while many financial institutions, including TD (with its “How South Asians Get #RetireReady” campaign) and CIBC (with its Global Money Transfer offering) , are learning to navigate the increasingly diverse consumer landscape, the work often begins after the potential customers have landed in the country.

Not so with Scotiabank, whose strategy involves working with organizations to reach newcomers before they even arrive.

The Big Five bank has prioritized the newcomer segment for some time, having named its first VP of multicultural banking back in 2007. That year, it established a task force to create a multicultural business unit, which led to the launch of its StartRight program in 2008, according to Munsif Sheraly, currently director of multicultural banking.

Sheraly, who has been leading acquisition strategy, development and execution for the new-to-Canada segment for the last three years, says the StartRight program is designed to guide customers through the initial on-boarding phase and beyond.

During their first years in the country, the newcomer segment relies primarily on bank websites to find information on the Canadian banking system – with some difficulty, according to a pair of surveys conducted by Scotiabank last year. Compared to other customers, these people are also less prone to trusting financial institutions, Sheraly says, for the simple reason that it remains unfamiliar and intimidating.

At Scotiabank, addressing those consumer concerns is a journey that begins when the audience is still overseas.

Through partnerships with the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP), which offers orientation to soon-to-be immigrants, and CanPrep, which provides employment and education mentoring and online resources during the pre-arrival phase, the bank looks to educate customers about what they can expect when they get here. It also works with groups like Prepare for Canada and Moving2Canada to provide “independent, objective information” to new immigrants, which it shares on its website and through social media.

The partnerships enable Scotiabank to – quite literally – offer an “end-to-end experience” to the customer, Sheraly says. “We think that it helps to differentiate us, as it allows us to be part of the conversation a lot earlier.”

In addition, the bank has an internal group that facilitates online webinars with potential immigrants. “What we’ve seen is we’re able to provide not only more information about banking, but also more information about what that newcomer experience looks and how specific actions help establish that newcomer to Canada from an employment and education perspective,” Sheraly says.

Once in the country, Scotiabank continues to build on that work through its ongoing “We Can Be Your Guide” campaign with help from Bensimon Byrne, Narrative and PHD on media. The work includes educational resources and content hosted on a Life in Canada blog, whose pages receive 56% higher traffic than other Scotiabank website pages.

The campaign has resulted in a higher number of credit card applications among new immigrants, according to Sheraly. He takes this as an indication that the campaign has helped newcomers understand the importance of building credit in Canada – a notion that may be foreign to people arriving from non-credit-based societies. “What that tells us is that content is key,” he says. “It’s validating our strategic approach, and it’s helping build that trust and authenticity with the end audience.”

After three years in the country, newcomers are no longer eligible for the StartRight program. But company research suggests that, by then, their banking needs and financial understanding have evolved. At that point, their needs have shifted to buying a home and saving for their children’s’ schooling and they can be phased into regular programs.

And, of course, Scotiabank has products and services for these customers, too.