Bernice: Hello, my name is Bernice Cheung; I’m the VP of Financial Services and Cultural Markets at Environics Research. Today, I have the pleasure of inviting Christina Ashmore, Managing Director of IFSE Institute. Hi Christina. Thank you so much for coming today – and I’d love to have you briefly introduce your organization.=
Christina: Thanks so much for having me, Bernice. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak about IFSE. IFSE Institute is a leading provider of education for the financial services industry. We help individuals achieve their career goals by preparing them for roles at financial institutions and firms. We deliver the licensing exam and, because we do that, a lot of individuals wanting to enter into the industry start with us.=
Bernice: That’s great. I know that you actually have a little bit of a focus on understanding the multicultural consumer or the multicultural job seeker, who would like to get the exam or do the exam. Would you mind telling me a little bit about that?
Christina: Well, our interest in the multicultural audience is really based on the makeup of our own student base, which itself is a reflection of the financial services sector as a whole. Employers in this space are the forerunners of championing inclusion [and] diversity in the workplace.
Bernice: That’s great. So, how do you divine that population? Is it newcomers, or immigrants, based on their ethnicity?
Christina: Well, since the industry is welcoming to all cultures, we don’t actually target a specific group per se. Anyone can have a career in financial services. Our challenge is ensuring that we get the messaging across, especially to new immigrants, that there’s opportunities for them in financial services. There’s great opportunities for them to work in one of Canada’s strongest and best industries.
Bernice: That’s great. And you mentioned new immigrants. How do you approach the strategy to communicate to this group?
Christina: Well, we have a multi-prong approach. One of the things that we’ve been doing is in developing the content on our website that speaks to some of the challenges that this group might face in entering the job market for financial services. So, we’ve been developing information on how to overcome a lack of Canadian work experience, where the jobs are, how to prepare for interviews, how to write resumes for this particular segment. And what we’ve been doing is, we’ve been sharing it on our social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. And so, another thing that we’ve been doing is, not only communicating out the content, but we’ve been paying for sponsored ads so we can increase a broader reach of that content, as well as having banner ads. So, now what we want to do is be able to get people who are interested in entering financial services or thinking about a career, or thinking about moving to Canada to consider financial services as an opportunity for them.
Bernice: Great. I heard that you actually ventured into WeChat. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Christina: Yeah, this is something that we’re currently embarking in. So, we’ve created a banner ad and that’s in-language. We’ll be posting it shortly on WeChat, and we’ll be directing it to an area on our website where we talk about careers and opportunities for individuals; and kind of letting them know what to do, what the different job roles are, what they need to get into it, what are the key skills, key attributes that they’re looking for and [the] kind of salary ranges.
Bernice: That’s good to know. So a lot of these newcomers, even from their home countries, are able to search for that information through your site and through your social media feeds.
Christina: Yeah. And that’s what we want to do, is increase the reach. Not only to newer immigrants that are here in Canada, but perhaps immigrants that are considering moving to Canada but are still in their home countries. So people who are preparing for a career once they get here, they can start studying with us because our courses are available online. They can reach us through the Internet. It’s all self-study and they can get that preparation started.
Bernice: That’s good to know. And that’s a great piece of information on their resumes; so that they’re much more likely to get a job when they do get here.
Christina: Yes, and one of the things that the employers are looking for when they are hiring is that people have passed their proficiency exams. So, most employers require people to be licensed or registered, and they can’t do that without satisfying that requirement.
Bernice: Okay. And so would you say, what share of the new, or your student population, is actually newcomers?
Christina: I would say that about a quarter of our population are actually newcomers. But even the population that’s here in Canada, they may have been here for 10 plus years. So, we have quite a diverse background of students, but that really is a reflection of Canada and the makeup of the population. So, even people who may not be a newcomer, they may have an ethnically diverse background, being Canadian.
Bernice: Yes. That’s great. So where do you see the future of looking at these newcomers from a business perspective in terms of your organization?
Christina: Well, we really see Canada as very unique in welcoming people from other countries and so we see a continuing trend. As people come into the country, they’ll need people who work for financial services firms to be able to service and help them be able to save for their retirement, or save for their home, or prepare for their children’s education. That’s why these organizations and institutions are looking for staff that can speak the language, that can understand culture, that can reach out to the community and be able to service those people.
Bernice: And so, essentially, they want staff that mirrors the Canadian population; and as the Canadian population keeps growing, they need more and more of the people that can serve them.
Bernice: Yes, that’s great to hear and great to know. So, thank you so much, Christina, for coming in today. I really, really appreciate you sharing what you are doing in your organization. We hope that you have a very successful run at this digital marketing strategy for the new immigrants; and hopefully next time when you come join us, you can tell us about all the success that you have.
Christina: Thank you so much Bernice.