HSBC Bank Canada is tapping global markets
Want your business to grow? Orient it more towards growing markets.
That’s the advice offered by Lindsay Gordon, President and CEO HSBC Bank Canada.
“Most future economic growth is going to come from the emerging markets, from developing countries. So we need to diversify towards those emerging markets. It’s just good business,” Gordon says.
And what’s an easy way to access those markets? Hire immigrants, says Gordon.
“Most immigrants to Canada are now coming from those emerging markets. They speak those languages, they know the business culture. If you are looking to the future, and to grow your business outside of Canada, outside of North America, hiring these immigrants will help you,” says Gordon, a tall man whose sharp blue eyes don’t seem to miss much.
Given his analysis, Gordon is probably quite pleased with the position his own company is in. HSBC Bank Canada has roughly 8000 staff; an astounding 48% are visible minorities, and many are immigrants.
Gordon acknowledges that the financial services sector has fewer barriers to hiring immigrants than some other sectors. “Banking is banking is banking. It’s not dramatically different from one country to another. And there aren’t the same credential recognition issues you have in other sectors,” he says.
But Gordon also attributes HSBC Bank Canada’s impressive stats to the bank’s origins in Asia and international scale, which he says have made the company both more open to and more attractive to immigrants. “We operate in 87 countries around the world, so we are a natural magnet for people when they come to Canada. They’ve probably already heard of HSBC, wherever they’re from,” Gordon explains.
Furthermore, while some companies are leery of hiring immigrants because of language issues, Gordon actually sees immigrants who have English as a second language as an asset.
“Some immigrants have weaker English language skills, but they’re keen to learn, and think of the people they can connect with in your marketplace or community as potential customers. Their English language skills may be a weakness, but their own language, whether it’s Mandarin or Punjabi can be a real strength, actually. Canada is an incredibly multicultural country, with a lot of immigrants. To me it is intuitively obvious – you want to hire immigrants and you want a work force that reflects the customer base that you have — or the customer base you want to have.”
Despite the large percentage of immigrants in its workforce, HSBC Bank Canada hasn’t found a need for any specific programs or training to help immigrants integrate. “We have programs everyone can access, and recent immigrants probably take more advantage of them than other staff, for language training, mostly. But we haven’t had to develop anything for immigrants per se.”
Little to lose, much to gain: the bottom line for this banker is that hiring immigrants is an excellent business proposition.