The more things change, the more they may not remain the same.

Scotiabank has a new President and CEO: What does it mean for immigrants?

Scotiabank, Canada’s 3rd largest bank and one of the country’s most immigrant-friendly banks, has just appointed Scott Thomson as the new CEO, following Brian Porter’s decision to retire as President and Chief Executive Officer. Scott Thomson’s appointment as CEO of Scotiabank is effective February 1, 2023.

Mr. Thomson is retiring as President and CEO of Finning International Inc., after nine years of leading the world’s largest dealer of Caterpillar equipment and engines across diverse industries in the Americas and Europe. He has been a member of the Scotiabank Board since 2016.

“Brian Porter has been a forward-looking leader who has made bold, strategic decisions that have repositioned the Bank, while growing assets to $1.3 trillion from $744 billion. He refocused the Bank’s geographic and business priorities and redeployed capital into businesses with greater growth opportunities, while exiting non-core markets,” said Aaron Regent, Chair of the Board for Scotiabank.

“During his tenure as CEO, the Global Wealth Management business has more than doubled in size, now ranking #2 by assets in the Canadian retail mutual fund industry; our International Banking business is now focused on fewer, larger markets that offer higher growth potential.

“Brian’s focused stewardship through challenging macroeconomic environments and through the global pandemic, has resulted in outstanding employee engagement, customer satisfaction and brand equity, leading the Bank to win multiple industry awards including Bank of the Year in Canada for three consecutive years.

How does this affect banking for immigrants to Canada?

Scotiabank is one of the most immigrant-friendly banks in Canada. Its StartRight Program designed for Newcomers, offers up to $1,400 in savings and bonuses in the first year.

Scotia also offers credit cards to new immigrants to help them build their credit history. In addition, through the ScotiaRise, The bank has pledged a 10-year, $500m commitment to foster economic resilience among disadvantaged groups including helping newcomers feel at home faster.

Despite these gestures, Canadian banks are still expected to do a lot more to help new immigrants integrate faster into the Canadian financial system.

Some of the biggest challenges facing highly skilled immigrants to Canada include, access to business loans, inability to build excellent credit, difficulty finding jobs that match their high qualifications and insufficient understanding of the Canadian financial landscape.

Scotiabank and all the other major banks are also under pressure to increase the representation of black and immigrant employees.  The bank has over 90,000 employees. As of July 2021, the number of black employees at Scotiabank only rose from 4.5% to 4.8%.

CIBC, RBC and TD have all expanded their diversity and inclusion programs, but they also suffer from under representation of blacks, minorities and immigrants in their staffing. Time will tell whether the new CEO and President will introduce more immigrant-friendly banking policies at Scotiabank.

Banking is a calling

“I have always believed that banking is a calling and serving this enduring, 190-year-old institution as President and CEO has been the honour of my lifetime,” said Brian Porter, President and CEO of Scotiabank.

“I leave the Bank with the same sense of optimism that marked the start of my time in this role. I am confident that Scott Thomson will guide the Bank through the next phase of its growth and development.

“He is a results-driven and proven leader who executes with purpose and shares values that are aligned with those of the Bank. I have every confidence he will lead the Bank exceedingly well.”

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