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The top 5 banking challenges for newcomers — and what to do about

October 22, 2022

By CIC News |

Moving to a new country is a big undertaking.

It’s not surprising that it comes with unique financial challenges. At Scotiabank, it’s important for us to help newcomers get settled — financially and otherwise. So, we conducted a study to better understand the types of financial challenges newcomers face when they move to Canada.

What we found likely won’t surprise anyone who’s moved to another country to build a new life. Most newcomers feel worried, overwhelmed, and confused by their finances and how to navigate the Canadian banking system.

That makes sense. Financial rules, practices and products can be very different from one country to another. There’s a steep learning curve for everyone. We’ll walk you through what our study found were the top five banking challenges for newcomers — and give you tips for how to navigate them.

The top 5 banking challenges for newcomers
Our study found that establishing and navigating Canadian banking and financial issues can added stress to the moving process for many newcomers. The top five banking challenges survey respondents identified were:

High rental costs: Rent is a challenge for most Canadians — and newcomers are no different. Many newcomers who arrive from countries where rent is much cheaper can be surprised at the high rental prices, especially those who land in Canada’s biggest cities.

Getting the right documentation and identification: Landing in a country and needing all sorts of documentation and identification to set up a bank account or apply for a credit card can be stressful for newcomers.

Signing up for a mobile phone and credit card: Because credit scores don’t transfer between countries (and some countries don’t even have a credit scoring system), things that require a credit history, like getting a mobile phone or a credit card, can be especially difficult for newcomers.

Finding employment: A job search is always difficult. But a job search in a country you’ve never lived in before with cultural and work expectations you might not fully understand is especially so.

Financial fraud from internet and phone scams: Because of a lack of knowledge about the Canadian banking system, newcomers are particularly vulnerable to financial fraud — and more likely to be targets of scammers.

Despite these initial challenges, our study found that newcomers take a long view of their financial success in Canada. Their top motivations for coming to Canada include seeking out a better quality of life and a better future, opportunities to grow a career in Canada, and reunify families. These are things that also pay off over time.

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