Apr 26 2013

Financial Services Needs of Immigrant Communities in Canada and the United States

Report  
Number  
292

The purpose of this research is to identify relevant and applicable socioeconomic trends within the immigrant community in Canada and the United States.

Bernice Cheung
Altus Strategy Group
Jaime Christian
Altus Strategy Group
Matthew La Rose
Altus Strategy Group
Report Number 292

Executive Summary

Barring a rupture in the trend lines, most of the future population growth in Canada and the United States will come from immigrants and the children of immigrants. This is the fastest growing market and it cannot be ignored. Credit unions are seeing an erosion of their membership, with the average age of members increasing year after year. Immigrants are on average younger and provide the opportunity to offset this trend.

But “immigrants” are not a monolithic group, and this report seeks to tease out the differences between communities in Canada and the United States and between long-term inhabitants and recent arrivals, and to make sense of the preferences and needs expressed by the groups that are making new homes in North America.

What is the research about?

The report is broken down into four chapters:

  • The first outlines demographic trends of the immigrant populations in Canada and the United States in an attempt to provide applicable information that may be used to design products that meet their needs. 
  • Chapter 2 outlines past and present initiatives that banks have used to target the immigrant market, with a special focus on remittances. 
  • Chapter 3 outlines services and organizations that work directly with immigrants to determine what is said about credit unions as well as whether there is a need for improved financial education. Lastly, in 
  • Chapter 4 the authors review recent immigration trends to determine whether similar immigration levels will continue in the future.

What are the credit union implications?

This report offers a range of useful facts and statistics, but the authors take great pains to point out the credit union implications. Here are a handful:

  • Target the right group of immigrants.
  • Learn from successful programs.
  • Enable immigrants to work with credit.
  • Local marketing may be highly effective due to immigrants’ high geographic concentration and their use of public transit.
  • Products for the one-fifth of immigrants who are in poverty should be similar to those aimed at low- to moderate-income individuals, and credit unions should offer products that compete with alternative financial services.

The trend lines are clear. So are the opportunities.

This report is sponsored by Credit Union Central of Canada.