Championing Diversity: The Indispensable Role of Multicultural Engagement in Canadian Financial Institutions

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Championing Diversity: The Indispensable Role of Multicultural Engagement in Canadian Financial Institutions

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In the rapidly evolving multicultural landscape of Canada, financial institutions are faced with the challenge and opportunity to serve a diverse population. Where having a multicultural focus is no longer optional, it has become an unassailable strategic necessity in the current market. This article delves into the importance of multicultural advertising and focuses on Canadian financial institutions and provides a treasure trove of insights on how to approach this inclusively and effectively for your 2024 campaigns and strategies.

The Multicultural Landscape of Canada

Canada is one of the world’s most multicultural countries, with an impressive diversity of over 200 ethnic origins reported by Canadians in the 2016 Census. Moreover, Statistics Canada projects that by 2041, 34% of the population could be foreign-born, with 31-36% of the population belonging to a visible minority group. 

At this very moment, more than a quarter (8.3 million people) of the total Canadian population are either landed immigrants or permanent residents.  In 2021, Canada set a new annual immigration record by welcoming over 400,000 new permanent residents. Plus, the current government policy in Canada aims to welcome 500,000 people a year by 2025, which could bring the number of new immigrants added to more than 3.7 million between 2016 and 2025.

This demographic shift should encourage financial institutions to rethink how their financial services are designed, marketed, and delivered.

The Case for Multicultural Focus

First and foremost , it is absolutely indispensable to recognize that multicultural customers are not just an isolated segment, but a dynamic and exponentially growing market force.. Additionally, it is noteworthy that immigrants predominantly belong to the younger age brackets, which gives room for financial milestones, such as buying a car, buying a house, opening their first Register Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) accounts, or saving up to send their kids to university. And any Financial institutions that fail to serve this segment risk losing out on substantial business opportunities.

Challenges in Multicultural Financial Services

One of the most daunting challenges while serving multicultural clientele is bridging the chasm of cultural differences. These can manifest in various forms, such as language barriers, different attitudes toward money and investing, and a potential lack of trust in financial institutions. Overcoming these barriers requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances and a commitment to cultural sensitivity. That is why knowledge is key, the country of origin can give a hint on the financial knowledge and income level of the newcomers. As a general example, Asian immigrants tend to arrive with a higher level of wealth than their South American or African counterparts. 

Cultural affiliations also play a pivotal role in banking preferences. For example, Asian immigrants would be more enticed to go to HSBC bank branches, since it is a familiar bank  and they have probably heard of it in their home country, while Scotiabank might have a higher advantage in the South American communities for the same reason.

Most banks have already noticed the importance of these communities, and do offer some interesting welcome packages with some nice perks, some include the possibility to get $200-$300 if they open a checking account, in addition to other conditions, other banks offer an iPad or electronic devices as a welcome gift, and others just offer to waiver the maintenance fees of credit cards for a year or so. But these are temporary offerings and do not really address the loyalty of these consumers.

That is why creating content and an advertising plan considering these communities is of the most importance. Keeping in mind a few of these will help:

  • Educate: How can we help educate this segment in financial services/products?
    • Most newcomers are not familiar with RRSP, TFSA, or FHSA accounts.
    • They do not have a Credit Score; how can they start building one?
    • How to transfer their savings or even their pension plans safely from their home countries?
    • How about insurance, for renters, for cars, or life insurance plans?
  • What is important for these communities when they think of banking?
  • Communication is one of the biggest challenges. And it only requires branches to see which of their employees speak which languages and make it known to their customers on their website, in which branches they could find someone to communicate in their native language.

Moreover, financial institutions need to avoid the trap of viewing multicultural customers as a monolithic group. They represent a wide array of cultures, languages, and experiences. A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be effective and may even be perceived as insensitive or discriminatory. However, there are some factors that all immigrants share and that could be critical to keep in mind when advertising. In many cases, newcomers save more and have higher home equity and credit scores are non-existent when they first arrive in the country.

Strategies for Multicultural Focus

In-Depth Cultural Understanding, embarking on the journey of offering effective multicultural financial services begins with an immersive understanding of the cultural nuances, attitudes, and preferences of diverse customer groups. This can be achieved through comprehensive market research, authentic community engagement, and forging partnerships with multicultural organizations.

In Multilingual Services, language can be a significant barrier to accessing financial services. Offering multilingual services can help bridge this gap and make financial services more accessible to multicultural customers. And it does not have to be in all branches, securing some branches where financial entities already have collaborators that speak another language, could be an asset that just needs to be pointed out to management and shared with customers.

Always make culturally sensitive advertising, advertising plays a key role in reaching out to multicultural customers and building trust. Ensure that your advertising is culturally sensitive, respectful, and reflective of the diversity of your customer base. Having an internal or external multicultural team will help you see things from different perspectives. 

The Road Ahead and Ethnique Media 

As Canada continues to become more multicultural, financial institutions need to adapt and evolve. Those that embrace diversity and make a concerted effort to serve multicultural customers stand to reap significant benefits, including expanded market reach, increased customer loyalty, and a stronger brand reputation.

If you are a financial institution looking to get a better grasp on how to reach immigrant audiences, Ethnique Media has a variety of services and channels to help optimize your strategy, through all or a mix of media channels. Such as print, radio, tv, CTV/OTT, digital display, or rich media. 

At Ethnique Media, we use proprietary audience, demographic, and consumer data to reach out to the best prospects for your financial services. Whether be mortgage products, savings accounts, insurance, or investment management accounts.

We have capabilities, in both programmatic and private marketplace, where we provide access to Finance and Business publishers’ unique inventory. These Business and Finance portals are mainly used by immigrants to manage their foreign stock portfolios and better manage their streams of income, as well as stay UpToDate with their home countries’ economic markets. In our experience, we have found that these sites are highly targeted publishers that perform 3x higher for financial services campaigns than for generic content, particularly for financial products targeting affluent immigrants.

Moreover, we can have the capabilities to create microsites in various languages, which are great tools to share vital information in language with newcomers, creating an immediate sense of trust in your brand with these audiences.

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