Embracing diversity and helping new Canadians realize their potential
By Susanne Martin, Managing Editor
Clicking on a scroll conjures up a bouncy brush-paint animation of a goat that takes the viewer on a tour of Chinese New Year festivities. The beautifully produced video clip is part of the Royal Bank of Canada’s e-card that conveys best wishes for the year ahead. Christine Shisler, RBC’s director of client strategies, sees it not only as an acknowledgment of the important holiday, but also as a gesture of appreciation for clients and staff of Chinese heritage.
The Chinese New Year celebration is something the whole organization gets behind, says Ms. Shisler. “We have exciting things planned. The individual branches will be decorated and, in addition to the e-greeting card, we have in-branch signage as well as celebratory advertising and collateral.”
The celebration is an example of how RBC embraces multiculturalism, Ms. Shisler explains. In a country where population growth is driven by immigration, it’s an ethical responsibility to make sure everyone is included. But it’s not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense, says Ms. Shisler. Immigration not only increases the pool of talent from a recruitment perspective, it also brings potential customers.
Ms. Shisler has no doubt that immigrants make an important contribution to our society. For the last three years, she’s been involved in the annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. “The awards celebrate the cultural, economic and social contributions of immigrants,” she explains. “Looking at the examples of nominees and winners, you realize what kind of impact one individual can have – it is inspiring.”
In order to help newcomers realize their potential, RBC aims to improve programs and services that can help meet their needs, says Ms. Shisler, who is responsible for the newcomer segment. Last year, for example, one of the biggest issues that came to the bank’s attention related to clients without a credit history.
“We’ve made improvements to make it possible for newcomers to get their first credit card, their first car loan or their first mortgage, even when they don’t have a credit history,” says Ms. Shisler, adding that “experts who are qualified to give sound advice and have a good understanding of all available financial solutions” are part of what sets RBC apart.
Client feedback has been very positive, she says. “When you come to a new country, there are many things to take care of, such as looking for employment, finding a school for your kids, finding a home. Banking and financial solutions aren’t things people want to spend a lot of time on.”
She considers it a “big win” that new Canadians say the bank has helped to reduce stress by providing advice and solutions that allow them to settle more easily.
In addition to customer-specific advice, RBC offers financial literacy workshops for newcomers, such as understanding credit in Canada and investing for the first time.
Part of RBC’s strategy is paying attention to branch staffing to ensure clients can be served in the languages they are most comfortable with. “Service is available over the phone and in branches in over 200 different languages,” says Ms. Shisler. “That’s something we are proud of.”
Offering custom advice in preferred languages shows a commitment to partnering with the client, she says. “It’s not just about one transactional process – it’s about building a relationship and helping clients meet their goals.”