Top Five Tips for New Canadians on How to Make It in the Financial Services Industry

Adjusting to a new country is difficult at the best of times – but now, new Canadians are finding it harder than ever to adapt to life in Canada, due to the complex and uncertain job market, limited social networks and your own lack of Canadian credentials.

Here are TOP FIVE TIPS to help you succeed in the Canadian financial services industry:


  • Map out your career path
    Canada’s financial services landscape is complex and rapidly evolving, but there are many tools and resources to help you achieve your education and career goals. One of them is CSI’s Financial Services Career Map – an easy-to-navigate, interactive tool that allows you to search and explore multiple career options and learn about the different roles, opportunities and credentials in Canada’s financial services industry.

  • Build on your existing qualifications
    In today’s increasingly global marketplace, many Canadian employers and investors are looking for professionals from diverse backgrounds who can connect with Canada’s diverse multicultural communities. Make sure you market your education and experience from your home country on your resume, LinkedIn profile and other platforms.

  • Bridge the gaps between your Canadian and international experience
    Many financial services companies in Canada offer paid or unpaid internships to new Canadians. Certificate-level financial credentials are a good option if you’d like to develop specialist skill sets – for example, in retirement planning or small business advice.


  • Treat your resume as a reflection of who you are and what you want to achieve
    You are your own brand. You need to define, articulate and promote it. What is your strongest skill set? What do you have to offer in a highly competitive labour market? Your resume should spell out – in a concise and compelling manner – why an organization should hire you. It must look professional. Typos, grammatical errors and layout inconsistencies immediately send the wrong message.

  • Use your resume to do a gap analysis of your skills
    Compare qualifications on your resume with those required in the job posting to identify your strengths, weaknesses and skill gaps you need to work around. Which Canadian credentials are a “must” to achieve the specific role you want and which are “nice-to-have”? Ideally, plan to get both. To get the position you want, you need to “stand out from the pack.”

  • Tailor your resume
    Update your resume every time you reach a milestone – such as acquiring a new professional certificate or designation – that increases your value to a potential employee. You should customize it to reflect the requirements of each position you are applying for.


  • Crack the hidden job market
    With 80 per cent of job opportunities lurking in the “hidden” job market, your networks – personal and professional – are critical to landing the job you want. So, think about who you know and mine your contacts in a strategic way. Use every business and social opportunity to mention you want to get into the financial services.

  • Don’t be shy about cold calling
    Develop a “dream list” of employers you would love to work for. Determine which positions would be a fit for you. Then, start calling and e-mailing. Ask for 15 minutes of a supervisor’s time for a quick information interview. Find out what’s required to succeed in the role that interests you. And don’t forget to weave in your “elevator pitch” – a 30-second “infomercial” about who you are and what you’re looking for. They may have an opening, now or in the future.
  • Build relationships
    Networking is not just about collecting business cards – nor should you expect the people you meet to do something for you right away. You must build relationships. Be prepared to offer something of value. Chances are that people who trust you will want to help you.


  • Find a mentor you trust
    Many accomplished financial services leaders would be happy to help as you get your Canadian career on track. Some have gone through the same difficulties you’re facing now. So, find that senior professional you respect and trust and ask them to be your mentor. Did you know that Fellows of CSI® (FCSI) – financial services professionals who attain advanced levels of education, experience and leadership in Canada – may be looking to help someone like you as part of their commitment to giving back to their profession and their community?

  • Build a successful mentorship relationship
    When you first meet with your mentor, make sure both of you are on the same page regarding what you expect and what the process will look like. Make sure you introduce your mentor to your long-term career plan and get their feedback on the steps you are taking to achieve your goals.

  • Find mentorship programs targeted towards new Canadians
    The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) offers a Mentoring Partnership, and works with community and corporate partners to make sure immigrants can access professional contacts and job search support. TRIEC also partners with the Career Edge Organization responsible for the Career Bridge internships providing newcomers with a better understanding of the Canadian workplace and current industry trends.


  • Get your foot in the door
    Doing your research, you may find that there are certain proficiency standards required for specific financial services jobs in Canada. For example, the Canadian Securities Course (CSC)®,considered the benchmark credential, is the gateway to a variety of careers in Canada’s financial services industry and is required by many employers. Adding the CSC® to your resume will help open many doors. The CSC® is available in English and French.

  • Go the extra mile
    Succeeding in Canada’s highly competitive financial services market may require specialized knowledge and skills. For example, in financial advice, these may range from basic financial advice for mid-range clients to more complex integrated wealth management and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals. Canadian designations, such as the PFP®, the CSWP® and the CIM®, will help you meet specific proficiency and competency standards required for many financial advice roles.

  • Choose the right credentials
    Make sure the letters after your name add credibility in the eyes of your employers and your clients. The best financial education programs have a clear focus, high proficiency standards, quality course content, relevant work experience and assessment testing requirements and mechanisms that ensure credential holders maintain their good standing. While certificates are crucial in bridging career transitions and knowledge gaps, designations help navigate longer-term learning paths towards building fulfilling financial services careers.

This story is from the "Train for a Financial Career" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.