When Erick Alfonso meets immigrants who feel overwhelmed, he gives them hope by telling his own family’s story. In fact, the Manila native and his wife achieved personal success in a remarkably short time, by ignoring skeptics who scoffed at their Canadian dreams.
Now working as a Senior Personal Banking Officer at Scotiabank in Calgary, Alberta, Erick remembers how friends discouraged them from immigrating to Canada with their five young children.
“They told us that you need Canadian experience to find a job,” recalls the former IT project manager at a Philippine bank. “But we decided to try because we knew it was a good country to raise our kids.”
Upon arrival in Canada in 2006, the Alfonsos discovered that many Filipino compatriots were juggling low paying jobs to survive. While Erick also took a temporary factory job to pay the bills, he refused to give up hope.
“I was lucky that Scotiabank gave me the chance to prove myself”
“A friend told me to open my first bank account at Scotiabank, and the teller was so helpful that I decided to submit my resumé,” recounts Erick. To his amazement, the branch manager hired him within a month as a casual teller, and two months later gave him a full-time customer support role.
Erick recommends the Scotiabank StartRight® Program1 for Newcomers, which includes a bank account, credit card2 options and other customized services and benefits. He also provides plenty of first-hand financial advice.
“Since many newcomers arrive with personal savings, I help them invest it wisely, including short-term investments such as a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), which lets them earn tax free income that they can access later for other needs,” says Erick.
He also explains the importance of building a Canadian credit history. “Some newcomers are afraid to use credit cards, but I tell them how it can help them achieve other goals if they use it responsibly.”
Erick also gives pep talks on job searches, based on his experience and that of his wife’s, Maria Rosario, who within a year moved from a temporary accounting job to accounting manager with a local firm.
“We didn’t do anything special, but we were determined. By believing in ourselves, and supporting each other, we got through each difficulty,” advises Erick. “It is possible - If you show what you can do, you can build the right connections and open the door to a new life in Canada.”