The following story can be read in it's entirety here at The Toronto Star.
Banking on immigrants
Lenders are in hot pursuit of the booming population of new Canadians
Dec 28, 2007 04:30 AM
Bank of Montreal snagged new immigrant Jun Yuan as a client even before the Chinese shipping agent set foot in Canada.
What really sold him on BMO was positive word of mouth and an information seminar the bank held in Shanghai – a primer on life in Canada. Basic banking, it seems, was just part of the agenda.
From what I can surmise from these two paragraphs is that Canada's banks seem to be acting more like government consulates and immigration agencies via the old time "slide shows" and banks second. They are enticing immigrants to come to Canada by selling them on the benefits of a Canadian life first and then the benefits of using their particular bank when in Canada. Thus, Canada's banks are using Canada as they're prime selling point and not what services they can provide.
"When I decided to immigrate to Canada, I knew nothing about what to do after landing," Yuan said. "This lecture is very helpful."
He was also impressed with the bank's ability to set up his account and transfer his savings to a branch in the heart of Toronto's Chinatown even before he boarded a plane for Canada.
"I didn't need to carry the money with me," Yuan said.
After arriving, BMO activated his account and gave him a reference so he could secure an apartment in Scarborough. Immigrant settlement services are the latest twist to Canada's retail banking war.
Roger Heng, managing director and BMO's country head for China, said prospective clients pepper his staff with a wide range of queries about Canada – most of which have nothing to do with banking.
Further evidence to suggest that Canada's banks act primarily as immigration consultation agencies for potential immigrants to field questions about immigrating to Canada. This allows the banks the opportunity to establish a relationship with potential clients when, and if, they arrive in Canada.
Faced with an aging population and a ban on big-bank mergers, Canadian lenders are falling all over themselves to court and poach new-immigrant clients as they represent a rare source of growth for their mainstay personal and commercial operations.
"Really, the primary growth in the Canadian population is going to be fuelled by immigrants. And we're not just talking about the general population, but our workforce as well," said Rania Llewellyn, Scotiabank's vice-president of multicultural banking. "Obviously, that is a huge opportunity for the banks to tap into that market."
There's a "vice president of multicultural banking" now? Now that's funny!!! Sadly it's not really a joke. There really is a "vice president of multicultural banking".
Statistics Canada does not track how much money new immigrants bring to Canada annually, but one 2005 estimate by Royal Bank of Canada pegged the potential new-immigrant banking market at about $3 billion a year.
Immigrants also remove a similar amount from the Canadian economy in the form of remittances sent back home. Unfortunately I cannot find the reference but I did read it in The Toronto Star and the amount of money removed from the Canadian economy by immigrants far exceeds the amount Ottawa doles out in the form of foreign aid.
With China and India the top source countries, banks are in hot pursuit of those Asian-born arrivals.
The concerns of Canada's banking institutions about mass immigration is focused squarely on how they can extract money from immigrants. They are businesses so we shouldn't expect less. Immigrants take out loans, use credits cards and amass debt, they buy homes and therefore need mortgages. They send money back to their homelands and need services for that. And by using these banks they will also be paying the user fees we Canadians have come to accept and adore. Therefore we should never expect to see anything less than a glowing report from the banks about the virtues and necessities of mass immigration no matter how false and misleading they may be.
My problem is that while the banks selfishly pursue profits they are actively promoting a policy that is akin to colonization. Their behaviour is helping to change Canada in irrevocable ways; ways that most Canadians do not agree with. They continue to influence the maintenance of Canada's dangerously high immigration levels and they promote the raising of those levels because it is in their interests to do so. Even if immigration is hurting the Canadian economy and creating social disruptions Canada's banks will continue to promote unfettered mass immigration so long as it is profitable. A business's loyalty is to itself.
For a related story read here for a story about Western Union and how immigration saved it from bankruptcy.