Coast Capital is Committed to Alleviating Financial Shame and Improving its Members’ Economic Health

Coast Capital Is Committed To Alleviating Financial Shame

In a Nutshell: People experiencing financial difficulties may feel embarrassed about their circumstances. Coast Capital works with its members to help them overcome their financial shame and position themselves for success. The cooperative provides financial education for consumers and businesses. Coast Capital released an interactive game in 2023 to help couples have productive conversations about money.

People tend to think of big businesses as nefarious entities that don’t care about the well-being of their customers. Perhaps inspired by depictions in cinema and television, we can see in our mind’s eye a villainous CEO looking down from their ivory tower at the populace below, scheming how they can wring another nickel from the working class.

But in reality, not all businesses are out to get us. Some companies even have the best interests of their customers and communities at heart. 

Coast Capital is Canada’s largest and British Columbia’s first federal financial cooperative. Coast Capital’s branch network is rooted in British Columbia, but the cooperative offers personal and business banking services to members throughout Canada via online and phone banking.  

Coast Capital logo

Coast Capital has nearly 600,000 members, $21.7 billion in assets, and 45 branches. The cooperative is a certified B Corporation. To achieve certification as a B Corporation, a company must pass a rigorous assessment conducted by B Lab that evaluates the company’s social and environmental impact. 

We spoke with Roanne Weyermars, Coast Capital’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, to learn more about the cooperative and its mission. Weyermars said that, as an impact-driven financial cooperative, Coast Capital invest profits back into its members, employees, and communities.

“One of the things that really makes us different is our unique social purpose,” Weyermars said. “Coast Capital works with our members and communities to build a better future together. A B Corporation focuses on using its business to solve some of the world’s largest social and environmental problems. We look at our impact on our members, employees, communities, and the environment.”

Money Can Significantly Impact Emotional Well-Being

Coast Capital released a study about financial shame in 2023. Weyermars said Coast Capital had conversations with its members and surveyed Canada’s economic landscape to determine that many Canadians are experiencing financial struggles. The study revealed that 36% of Canadians in the study said they feel shame regarding their financial situations.

“The goal of the study is to shine a light on the shame people feel about their finances,” Weyermars said. “Then we can have conversations that start to solve peoples’ problems and help them create a better financial future. If we’re not talking about it, then we can’t fix it.”

Roanne Weyermars
Roanne Weyermars is Coast Capital’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Weyermars said the study indicated that 3 out of 4 people said they think about their financial situation more often than they talk about it. The study reveals that people said their financial situations can affect their relationships. Weyermars said 56% of the study’s participants said their financial situation impacts their relationships with friends and peers.

Weyermars said she was surprised to learn financial shame can cause people to be dishonest about their finances or avoid discussing the topic altogether. But Weyermars said recent social media trends like Loud Budgeting have given her hope that people are becoming more comfortable discussing their finances online and are using TikTok to let others know they’re avoiding purchasing items that aren’t a part of their budget.

“People have announced that they’re passing on Taylor Swift tickets because they’re saving for something that’s more important to them,” Weyermars explained. “That’s a really positive step in the right direction. If people don’t have enough money to purchase something, they should feel comfortable saying that out loud.”

Weyermars said macroeconomic factors, such as the state of the housing market and the rising costs of consumer goods, influence the financial outlook of some Canadians. Coast Capital’s study divulged that money issues can impact a person’s emotional well-being regardless of age, gender, geographic location, or income, Weyermars said.

“There’s a real connection between financial health and a person’s overall sense of well-being,” Weyermars said. “For many people, money is linked to happiness.”

Financial Education Enriches Communities

Weyermars said it’s essential for people to know their financial limitations, and those who don’t may take actions that harm their financial health.

“People’s financial behaviors can lead to a vicious cycle,” Weyermars detailed. “As a financial partner for Canadians, we care about how things turn for our members and the economy. It’s important for us to raise awareness about these issues.”

Weyermars said Coast Capital plans to continue providing tools to help people improve their financial health. The cooperative offers financial education to help its members learn sound financial practices and correct their financial course, if necessary.

Coast Capital devotes a section of its website to helping members learn money management principles and strategies, including the benefits of automatic savings and maximizing investments.

Coast Capital wants its members to succeed. Its branding aims to impart the message that Canadians can expect a difference when they bank with a member-owned financial institution.

Coast Capital’s small business webpages contain resources to help small business owners grow their businesses. Coast Capital also provides educational content that extends beyond the banking arena, such as career advice for those seeking to learn interview skills or who are interested in networking.

Coast Capital’s financial education program aligns with the cooperative’s mission. Weyermars said Coast Capital wants the communities it serves to thrive. The cooperative contributes to community health by helping its members earn more income.

Coast Capital’s Elevate account comes with all the features one would expect from a comprehensive checking account, but it also offers members free access to Coursera’s courses. It’s one more way Coast Capital helps its members grow and reach their goals.

“An important part of our strategy moving forward, and something you can expect to see us doing more frequently, is bringing tools to our members and communities that will help them learn new skills that ultimately grow their income,” Weyermars said. “Just having savings goals may not always be enough. We need to equip people to educate themselves around their finances and areas of professional interest so that they can improve their incomes.”

Coast Capital Encourages Financial Conversations

People experiencing difficulties in life may find it beneficial to discuss their problems with a trusted friend or family member. Weyermars said it can be crucial for people with money challenges to find a knowledgeable person to discuss their financial issues with.

Weyermars said people should talk to and see guidance from those they trust, including a financial advisor.

“Finances can be a point of contention in relationships,” Weyermars said. “Couples may not see eye to eye on financial issues, or they may not know how to start conversations about money with each other. If people can’t talk to their spouse or a friend about finances, they should explore consulting with a financial advisor.”

Coast Capital game cards
Coast Capital provides a free game to help couples talk about money.

Coast Capital launched an interactive game in 2023 to help couples have productive conversations about money. Couples can play the game online for free.

“The game helps couples start difficult discussions about money,” Weyermars said. “The goal is for people to be able to discuss their financial picture openly as they progress through the game. It’s been a really powerful resource that helps break down financial taboos so couples can move together toward the type of financial future they want.”

As Weyermars looks to Coast Capital’s future, she said she envisions the cooperative continuing to find new and creative ways to motivate people to talk about their finances.

“We can’t wait for what’s to come in terms of ways we can help our members increase their incomes and improve their financial outlook,” Weyermars said. “And we’re looking forward to launching some exciting things for our members in the coming year.”