Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Short courses in finance and banking
(Published in The Canadian Newcomer)
By Sergio Granillo

One of the main concerns when you come to Canada is to get your credentials recognized, to make valid your University degree and your professional experience. It is hard to accept that, at least for a while, you have to start a new career.

And the fact of thinking of developing new skills in a different professional area makes a big difference between getting a ‘survival job’ –and staying there for a long time- and making that job a new career path.

This is about my personal experience. I have a degree in Communications, more than 15 years working in marketing, public relations and journalism. Shortly after my arrival, I approached to some orientation centres and workshops to learn how to make a resume according to the Canadian workplace.

Networking, a word new to me, came across in this workshop; a very useful tactic to get a job and to move up in the workplace. Luckily, I started my networking among the other newcomers in the group and attended to different orientation conferences.

It was November 2005, in a motivational conference in Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) that I met Stella Mejia, she worked for another organization created to advise immigrants, COSTI.
Originally known as Centro Organizzativo Scuole Tecniche Italiane (COSTI), is now COSTI Immigrant Services a multicultural agency that helps immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area.
I explained Stella that I had found a ‘survival job’ in a bank as a teller and that it made me feel frustrated. She gave me a peace of advice: ‘If you can access training programs in that job, take them, doesn’t matter that it is not related to your background. It’s like a free university!’
It is not easy to accept. But you learn how important that mindset can be. So, I was trained first as a teller, and then I kept learning all I could, as I saw the time passing by and didn’t find a job in my career.
Anyhow, in the same meeting I got connected to a group of newcomers, all of them with a background in Marketing and Communications, who had created a group called CAMP, where people new to Canada met to join efforts trying to break in that industry.
This way, I tackled two areas in my life, pay the bills working as a teller, but preserved my long term goal, getting a job in Communications.
If you can not find that ‘dream job’, you need to find the way of not getting stock in a sort of comfort zone and assess the possibility of growing in a new career path.
And here comes another piece of advice I got:
“Forget about your degree, it is no going to open the doors here; in this company you need to have a licence to sell mutual funds, that course will open doors”.
Luis Flores, a Mexican investment advisor in the bank, told me so. He studied in the same private university that I attended to.
The fist thing I thought was, I am not giving up my search or rip off my diploma. It is hard to take, but what he told me was true.
Even my idea of moving up in the financial industry was not becoming an account manager, position where this licence is required. Later I realized that you need that accreditation to get better jobs in the bank.
The Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) offers these courses. The basic ones are the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and the Investment Funds in Canada (IFC). The cost is $ 995.00 and $ 350.00, respectively. They are self-study courses, so you can organize your study time. Within a year, you cab book the date to present the exam. If you succeed, then you get your licence, which is valid for a couple of years.
I have lost the opportunity to get better jobs because I didn’t have any of these courses. Finally, decided to enrol in one of them and I realized that they are providing me with a better understanding of the industry where I am on. It can give me tools to build up a new career. And I have been able to transfer some of my previous experience and skills to enhance my performance and thrive for better opportunities.

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