There are many opportunities for your business when working with immigrants to Canada. So, it’s important that you or one of your team members be able to work with that market, says Carol Leong, a vice president and investment advisor with TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice in Richmond, B.C.
In addition to coming from a wide range of countries and speaking a multitude of languages, immigrants can also be divided into three categories, says Wendy Seto, a private banker with RBC Wealth Management in Toronto: international student, skilled immigrants and investors.
Many people who come to Canada as a student will stay in the country even after completing their studies, she says. These students usually come from wealthy families and can be excellent long-term clients.
Skilled immigrants are typically well-educated people between the ages of 30 and 45, says Seto. They like to do everything themselves from research to trading stocks. They primarily need help learning about retirement savings contributions.
The investors group consists of very wealthy people who are busy running their own businesses, she says. They need advisors to help them manage their wealth. Normally, they are more concerned with protecting their capital than making a large return.
Follow this advice to work with new immigrants to Canada successfully:
> Speak their language
Make sure you can relate to the immigrant population you choose to work with.
It’s important that either you or someone on your team speaks the same language or shares the same cultural background as the clients, says Seto. When immigrants arrive in Canada, everything is very foreign to them, so they look for people who share their culture.
> Wait and see
Be patient. It may take some time for prospects from this demographic to rely on you.
“They want to make sure [you are] trustworthy,” says Seto. During the first couple of meetings they won’t want to talk about investments. Instead they’ll want to get to know you, make sure you are who say you are and that you genuinely want to help them.
> Explain their options
When working with immigrants, take time to teach them about the different investment vehicles and options available in the Canadian market.
Many newcomers to Canada are only familiar with stocks and real estate as investment options, says Seto. Make sure you explain other concepts and investment vehicles, such as long-term financial planning and mutual funds, to them.
As well, talk to them about regulation policies in Canada, says Leong. For example, many immigrants will not understand the difference between discretionary and non-discretionary accounts and what their responsibilities are as investors.
> Stand out
Be prepared to answer questions from new Canadians about how you are different from other advisors.
If someone opens up a publication from their cultural community, they won’t always understand the difference between you and another advisor advertisement on the next page, says Leong. They don’t understand designations or awards in Canada, so you need to explain how your services are different.