British Columbia

New national bank targeting Chinese Canadian customers

Offices for Wealth One Bank open in Vancouver and Toronto this week, which aim to be the premier banking options for Chinese Canadians.

Offices for Wealth One Bank open in Vancouver and Toronto this week with focus on Chinese Canadian market

Wealth One Bank of Canada becomes the newest Schedule I Bank in Canada, and will focus on becoming a premier bank for Chinese Canadians. (CBC)

A new national bank opening offices in Vancouver and Toronto will "focus primarily" on bringing in Chinese Canadian customers.

Wealth One Bank of Canada is a new national Schedule I Bank that aims to be the preferred banking choice for all Chinese Canadians.

According to a statement, the bank will be open for all Canadian citizens and permanent residents, but they operate with "a deep knowledge and respect for Chinese values and culture."

"It was really about some of our founding shareholders — who are very well known in the Chinese community — [they] thought there would be an opportunity to provide a banking alternative in the community," said Charles Lambert, the CEO of Wealth One.

"Our primary focus is to, over time, become the preferred bank of Chinese Canadians," he said.

Lambert says the bank will offer services in Cantonese and Mandarin, and that frontline staff will be members of the Chinese Canadian community.The banks initial offerings include savings accounts, term investments, and residential and commercial mortgages lending — services that Wealth One's research suggests resonates with the Chinese Canadian community, according to Lambert.

Cultural financing

Robin Brown, vice president of Dig Insights and author of Migration Nation: A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Globalized Canada, spoke with CBC's BC Almanac guest host Andrew Chang to discuss Wealth One's announcement.

"It certainly make business sense," said Brown. "Chinese Canadians have specific needs across a range of services — financial services more so than others."

According to Statistics Canada, roughly 4 per cent of Canada's population are of Chinese descent, accounting for 1.32 million residents. About 70 per cent of which are immigrants.

While a lot of mainstream banks offer services in Cantonese and Mandarin, Brown thinks its advantageous from a business standpoint to take a wider cultural approach to banking.

"Financial planning is a cultural thing — it's influenced by your culture, even beyond language. If you're speaking to a financial advisor who understands the way you interact with your family, the kind of goals that you have, the way that you understand financial planning — that's going to be an advantage," said Brown.

But Brown admits there's a fine line to be walked.

"I think it's important that banks like Wealth One and the mainstream banks as well do ensure that they cater to specific cultural needs — but at the same time, the mainstream offering that they have is inclusive," he said.

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Newest national bank is targeting Chinese Canadian customers