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Case study: changing financial habits among employees at Scotiabank Mexico.

One of the predominant features of the Anglo-Saxon culture, represented on the North American continent by Canada and the U.S., is its long-term focus on achieving financial security through retirement savings and medical insurance. Unfortunately, this culture barely exists in Latin American countries. In Mexico, for instance, the majority of the population is not used to saving for the future, and the life and medical insurance purchase rate among Mexican households is quite low.

Toronto-based Scotiabank, one of North America's leading financial institutions, has 51,000 employees in some 50 countries, including more than 7,000 in Mexico. This case study describes how Scotiabank developed and successfully implemented an internal communication campaign encouraging its Mexican employees to participate in Scotiaflex, a new retirement and flexible benefits program.

Goals and objectives

Scotiabank recognized that the saving practices of its employees around the world vary greatly. The bank hoped to remedy this by launching Scotiaflex, a retirement and flexible benefits program similar to one used by Scotiabank's Canadian employees, to employees in other locations. The mission was to positively engage with all employees and increase their understanding of potential benefits.

Encouraging employees of Scotiabank Mexico to adopt Scotiaflex represented a big challenge. While a pension and benefits plan was already in place, in order to adopt Scotiaflex, employees would have to make significant changes in their financial habits. With a deadline of just a month, the communication team at Scotiabank Mexico had to work quickly to launch an awareness campaign focusing on the importance of saving now to prevent future financial hardship. By giving employees the resources to compare the old and new programs, the team aimed to help everyone make an informed and intelligent decision.

Solution and implementation

The communication team used several different media to educate employees about the importance of saving and ways to change financial habits. These included both printed and electronic materials, direct training, and a savings growth simulator.

The strategy was developed in three phases:

* Expectation. The team introduced key messages regarding the importance of saving for a financially secure future--for example, "The decisions I make today can help me to enjoy my retirement tomorrow."

* Launch. All Scotiabank Mexico employees received a Scotiaflex information kit and direct training.

* Reinforcement. The team addressed employee questions and concerns via e-mail.

Employees were given only one month to decide whether to keep their old pension and benefits plan or to adopt Scotiaflex. This meant that the communication team did not have much time.

Fortunately, Scotiabank employees had already participated in an earlier study on saving for the future conducted with focus groups and questionnaires. Supplementing printed information with a training program had also increased awareness and understanding. Therefore, all employees had some exposure to positive messages around long-term saving practices by the end of the initiative.

Measurement and evaluation

The introduction of Scotiaflex to Scotiabank Mexico proved to be a great success. At the end of the month, 70 percent of Scotiabank employees decided to adopt the new flexible benefits program. The Scotiaflex launch was considered so successful, in fact, that the international Scotiabank Group decided to expand this flexible benefits program to other subsidiaries in Latin America.

about the authors

Elsa Mercado is communications director and Adriana Vizcaino is communications coordinator under Federico del Castillo, human resources director at Scotiabank. This article was written with assistance from Ignacio Robledo, public affairs director at the Mexican Association of Communicators.
COPYRIGHT 2007 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SPECIAL REPORT: Latin America and the Caribbean
Author:Vizcaino, Adriana
Publication:Communication World
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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