Canadian Bankers Association

Canadian Bankers Association

November 15, 2010 15:10 ET

Banks in Canada Help Newcomers Find Their Financial Footing

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 15, 2010) - Making a purchase with a debit card, having a paycheque deposited into a bank account or paying a bill online – for millions of Canadians these tasks are carried out every week without a second thought. But for newcomers to Canada, such routine actions can seem difficult or even overwhelming. As a sponsor of Credit Education Week 2010, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) has tips and suggestions to help newcomers to Canada learn about our banking system and take control of their financial future in their adopted homeland. 

"Banks in Canada recognize that cultural differences and language challenges can make even the most basic banking tasks appear intimidating for newcomers, which is why many banks offer special services in multiple languages, designed specifically for new Canadians," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Bankers Association. "Our banks pride themselves on helping newcomers to Canada get started on the right financial path with affordable, accessible services and sound financial advice."

How to Open a Bank Account

Setting yourself up on a sound financial footing is a key factor in succeeding in a new country and one of the first steps in getting there is to open an account with a financial institution. Opening a bank account is a good idea for many reasons – it can help you save money and track spending and it provides a secure location to store money, reducing the need to carry large amounts of cash. Also, many employers in Canada pay staff by depositing paycheques directly into employees' bank accounts; having a bank account open and ready to go will make it that much easier for a newcomer to get their first paycheque.

To open a bank account in Canada you need to present two pieces of identification, such as a permanent resident card and a foreign passport (a complete list of acceptable identification is available on the CBA website). Banks offer a wide range of bank accounts and specialized services tailored to meet the needs of new Canadians, including high-interest savings accounts, no-fee chequing accounts, specialized mortgage products and financial tutorials. More information and links to individual bank resources for newcomers are available on the CBA's consumer information webpage.

Tips for Managing Your Money Wisely

Once an account has been opened, the next step towards financial security is learning sound money management skills.

"We all use money in different ways, reflecting our individual values and priorities," said Ms. Hughes Anthony. "What is common to everyone though, is the impact that today's financial decisions can have on our lives tomorrow, which is why it is so important to take control of your money sooner rather than later."

One of the simplest ways to ensure you spend within your means is to create a budget. By tracking how much you spend each month and where you spend it you can ensure your expenses don't exceed your income. Budgeting is also a great way to help you plan ahead and save for a trip or major purchase without going into unnecessary debt.

Today Canadians have more spending options than ever before and more choices for how to make payments, including cash, cheques, credit cards, debit cards, pre-authorized withdrawals or through the Internet. While all this choice is certainly good news for consumers, it doesn't mean financial decisions should be taken lightly. Newcomers, along with all Canadians, should avoid over-extending themselves with unnecessary debt. By paying down credit card balances in full each month consumers can avoid interest payments and keep from getting into financial difficulties.

It's also a good idea to put some money aside each month into an emergency fund. Most financial experts recommend Canadians should have three to six month's worth of living expenses put aside to help cope with unexpected financial difficulties, such as a job loss or an extended illness.

Banks Support Financial Literacy

Banks in Canada recognize the importance of providing all Canadians with the necessary tools and services to be sound money managers. That's why the CBA developed and manages the YourMoney program, a free, non-commercial financial literacy seminar for senior high school students and other community groups.

Sponsored by Canada's banks and developed in partnership with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), the 50-minute YourMoney seminar is presented by more than 800 community bankers from across Canada who volunteer their time and expertise to deliver the seminar in schools. Since its inception ten years ago, more than 190,000 students have participated in the program. Those interested in learning more about the program can visit www.yourmoney.cba.ca

Credit Education Week

Supported by leaders within the financial services industry, consumer advocacy groups, community organizations and government, Canada's fourth annual Credit Education Week runs from November 15 to19, 2010 and gives free access to financial advice and resources from Canada's leading experts. This year Credit Education Week focuses on newcomers and how they can spend, save and manage their finances in Canada. More information can be found at www.crediteducationweekcanada.com

Canadian Bankers Association

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 51 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 260,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions. www.cba.ca

Follow the CBA on Twitter: @CdnBankers

Contact Information

  • Canadian Bankers Association
    Andrew Addison
    (416) 362-6093, ext. 220 or Cell: (416) 587-7733
    aaddison@cba.ca