Helping new Canadians realize their potential

It means a lot to Chuck Tsui when his colleagues wish him a Happy Chinese New Year. “It’s the most important holiday for people of Chinese origin, and working in an organization that recognizes and celebrates this special date makes me feel respected and supported,” says the business development manager of TD Direct Investing from Vancouver.

Traditionally, the holiday is a time to get together, and TD seizes the opportunity to celebrate with employees and the larger community with events that include gala dinners, lion and dragon dances, lucky draws and prizes, says Mr. Tsui. “It’s a way to show our appreciation to the community, and from what I’ve witnessed for over 10 years, everyone is really excited to participate.”

Chinese New Year also presents an opportunity to recognize the contribution of immigrants to Canadian society, says Mushtak Najarali, senior vice-president, Everyday Banking, TD. “Immigration is how Canada has grown, and it will play an even more critical role in the future.

Supporting newcomers when they arrive in Canada sends the important message that they are welcome. It also makes good business sense.
— Mushtak Najarali is senior vice-president, Everyday Banking, TD

“Supporting newcomers when they arrive in Canada sends the important message that they are welcome. It also makes good business sense,” says Mr. Najarali. “If we make it possible for newcomers to have access to resources that can help adjust to a new way of life, they will thrive and positively contribute to the Canadian society and economy.”

Challenges for newcomers may include navigating day-to-day life – including financial transactions – in a new language, says Mr. Najarali. The TD language line can help – it is a service where translators support branches in over 200 languages. And being able to establish a relationship and deal with an adviser who speaks their native language can make a lot of difference, he adds.

A TD survey found that almost nine in 10 newcomers consider establishing good financial standing in their first year in Canada a top priority, yet nearly half stated that they didn’t know where to start when setting up their finances. Among new Chinese Canadians, more than 87 per cent wish they had a better understanding of how to build their credit rating.

In consideration of the most common challenges newcomers face, TD offers a package that can help simplify the process of getting established. “Our New to Canada package offers features that can help newcomers start building a financial foundation in Canada,” says Mr. Najarali, who offers two pieces of advice: “First, come into a branch and get help with your basic banking needs. Second, talk to us about how to start establishing a credit history in Canada.”

Mr. Najarali believes it’s important to understand the value of establishing a credit history. “Many first or second generation immigrants still think cash is the way to go and credit is something to avoid,” he explains. “But when you want to get a lease or mortgage, for example, most institutions look at your credit rating.”

The package includes the option of applying for a TD credit card even for those who don’t have a Canadian credit history. And additional financial education resources, such as the TD Money Matters programs for newcomers and new Canadians, are designed to build familiarity with the Canadian banking system and offer guidance on establishing credit and developing a savings plan, says Mr. Najarali. “This is what Canada is all about: being inclusive.”

Mr. Tsui is experiencing this first hand as a member of the TD team. “I’m very thankful that my culture is so respected,” he explains. For the upcoming holiday season, Mr. Tsui is looking forward to the TD Chinese New Year gala events, where the executive team joins the employees to welcome the Year of the Rooster. The celebrations vary in size – close to 1,000 people gather for the Vancouver Chinatown and Toronto Markham galas, for example – and present a chance to exchange good wishes for the season, mix and mingle, as well as perform in a talent show. “It’s a lot of fun,” says Mr. Tsui.

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