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At PlanOffers Canada we try to compare various financial services & financial service providers, so you don't have to, unless you want to. We save you time. We might even save you money. You be the judge on all that. (We are not a financial services company, but we do write about those topics.) Financial services is a very broad topic, so let's start with mentioning that there is a company named Borrowell Inc. They are a Canadian company. They have a website called Borrowell.com, which can help you with a whole bunch of 'financial' stuff, to help you take control of your finances including such topics as: free credit score; rent advantage (use your rent payment history to count on your credit history); credit builder; credit cards; personal loans; mortgages; banking; insurance; and they also have a Blog for your reading pleasure, as do we.
What are financial services? In Canada, financial services companies seem to include banks, insurance companies, pension funds, mortgage companies, loan companies, and other companies than offer 'banking services'. There is most likely a better legal definition out there, but this is accurate enough to give most people a general idea of what is included.
In Canada banks are Federally regulated. The banking system that we have in Canada works well. It is strong and stable. Our banks tend to be national in scope, and are often referred to as 'the big five', though there are more than five banks in Canada. The five largest banks in Canada are: the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC); the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD); Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank); Bank of Montreal (BMO): Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).
The sixth is frequently considered to be the National Bank of Canada (some people would argue that word 'national' was not intended to refer to Canada, but rather to Quebec, where is is known in French as 'Banque Nationale') and tends to have most of its bank branches. The Laurentian Bank of Canada is another less well known Canadian bank, which tends to focus its opations inside the Province of Quebec. Canadian Western Bank (CWB), is a smaller Canadian bank, based in Westen Canada, but it has a big vision. CWB is part of the CWB Financial Group. Many Canadian banks have a presence in parts of the USA, and some have a presence in other countries as well.
One interesting wrinkle in the Canadian 'banking system' is the Alberta Treasury Branch, which as the name might suggest, is actually a 'branch' of the Province of Alberta's Treasury. These days is it commonly known as ATB Financial, and it mostly operates within Alberta. So ATB Financial looks like a bank, it walks like a bank, it sounds like a bank, but it is not actually (far as we know) a 'bank', though according to its website (we looked), it does offer 'personal banking' and 'business banking'.
Another interesting player in Canada's banking system is Canadian Tire Bank, 'the financial services arm of Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd'. It is also unusual to note on their website, the statement that 'Canadian Tire Deposit Products are not currently available in Quebec.' They do however seem to offer most of the usual things banks tend to offer, including: Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs); Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSAs); Credit Card Services; and of course bank accounts. Their main focus seems to be on offering Triangle® credit cards. One must assume that there is a lot of pofit to be had in credit cards. (Our best advice on the topic of cerdit cards, is to pay off your balance in full each month, to avoid interest charges.)
In addition, Canada's financial system includes credit unions, mortgage companies, and loan companies. In the Province of Quebec, the credit union movement tends to be branded as 'Movement Desjardins' (which literally translates in English to 'the Garden Movement', but is best thought of as a 'Credit Union Movement', as that makes more sense in the English language, and is a 'better' translation). It is also known as 'Caisse Populaire', which best translates in English as "Credit Union'. Some foreign banks also have a (well regulated) presence in Canada. More to follow. :)