Miranda Family

Man lies on grass with a basketball, his wife and two young daughtersShooting hoops helps newcomers find friends and advice

Coming from the basketball-loving Philippine Islands, Ronald Miranda was happy when he saw the neighbourhood basketball court after arriving in Kitchener, Ontario. Little did he know, the game would help him find new friends who would offer sound financial advice.

It all began when the software engineer came to Canada to accept a job with a high tech company. While Ronald was excited to bring his wife and daughter to North America, reality soon set in. “We didn’t know anyone here. We had no family and no idea where to get groceries or other necessities,” recalls Ronald.

Fortunately, new friends showed them around, including the local basketball court where their families gathered for Friday night games. The growing roster of players included Cris Santos, a Philippine-native, and Branch Manager at Scotiabank’s Courtland Ave. & Shelley Branch, in Kitchener, Ontario.

“The game created an extended family for us,” says Cris, who adds that basketball helped ease his own transition to Canada when he arrived seven years ago. “Sports can help build a community for newcomers who share all kinds of first-hand advice and experience.”

Off the court, Ronald turned to Cris to understand the banking system and when Ronald saw plans for the perfect four-bedroom home he connected with Cris once again for a mortgage pre-approval.

“I ask newcomers about their goals so that they can start working towards them,” says Cris. He suggests that newcomers who plan to settle in Canada should think about buying a home or other longer-term goals. “I tell them about pre-authorized contributions to high interest savings accounts, to save for a down- payment, or Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), for their children’s future,” explains Cris, who mentors at the YMCA Cross Cultural and Immigrant Services Centre.

Cris can appreciate how the right advice when starting out makes for long-term success, since he is providing first-hand advice. While Cris and his wife were veteran bankers in the Philippines, they had to learn the Canadian banking system before landing jobs at Scotiabank (Maria Santos is a Personal Banking Manager at 14 Fischer-Hallman Road North in Waterloo).

“Since we were newcomers, we can empathize with others and are able to guide them and provide trusted solutions suited to their needs,” adds Cris. For example, The Scotiabank StartRight® Program1 for Foreign Workers includes day-to-day banking, a range of credit card2 options and a number of other customized services and benefits.

For Ronald, the weekly basketball games enabled his family to build a group of friends who now camp and picnic together, plus a Scotiabank advisor who helped them obtain their new home.

“It started with a small basketball group and the rest is history,” remarks Ronald. “Now, when I meet other newcomers, we invite them to play ball and point them to Cris for good advice.”