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NorQuest College Ask the Banker

A lineup of students snaked around the atrium of the Singhmar Centre for Learning at NorQuest College last month. Each student was waiting to ask their financial questions in the first-ever NorQuest College Ask the Banker series put on by ATB.

Each quizzical student was met with an optimistic smile and straightforward answer from Jackie Nguyen, the campus branch manager.

“One student asked, ‘how do I save money when I am a student?’” said Nguyen. “First, I am happy that she was thinking about saving since this is an important habit to build at a young age. Secondly, this is a common challenge for students due to the limited income while they are in school.”

Nguyen has all sorts of advice but says it depends largely on the student’s situation and understanding of money. In general, start small and start now while still in school.

“Setting aside an amount to automatically transfer to a savings account as soon as your paycheque is deposited is a good way to start,” explained Nguyen. “The amount can be small. What is important is instilling a saving habit.”

Along with questions about how to save, students asked about credit—credit scores, qualifying for credit cards and how to improve credit—and even some questions around investing.

“Depending on the students' experiences, there are different levels of understanding when it comes to personal finances and relationships with money,” said Nguyen. “In my experience, most students can benefit from improving financial literacy. That provides a good foundation so that once they are in the workforce, they are prepared to deal with increasing complex financial decisions.”

Achol Nai, who is currently upgrading her courseload to enter the nursing program at NorQuest, was happy she got the chance to ask a banker her questions.

“First I learned what ATB stands for. I didn’t know that,” laughed Nai. “When it comes to anything in this country it’s about savings, savings, savings. I’m a mother going to school so I need to find a way that I can save for myself and a little bit for my kids.”

NorQuest College branch is a unique ATB location. The college and ATB have partnered to open a full-service banking location in the Singhmar Centre for Learning that is operated by college staff. The branch offers a full suite of banking services to students, college employees, and the community. NorQuest is the first post-secondary institution in Alberta to manage a banking location, with profits from ATB NorQuest being used to directly benefit NorQuest students.

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