By: Marg Archibald, Four Directions Financial Manager

Access to basic financial services – like a bank account or the ability to cash cheques – is something most of us take for granted. But many individuals don’t have easy and affordable access to these essential services.

In order to alleviate these challenges, Boyle Street Community Services has formed a partnership with ATB Financial to create a bank for the unbanked and the under-banked. We offer low-barrier financial services that allow our clients to access an unlimited transaction chequing account for just $9.95 a month.

Why does this matter?

Lack of financial services for inner-city communities mean that many low-income earners are forced to resort to cheque cashing companies that charge exorbitant fees just to access their money. These toxic relationships exploit an already marginalized population.

Lack of access to financial services also means that community members are forced to access all of their funds at once, increasing the danger of clients losing or having their money stolen.

Other clients are burdened by the (often physical) perils of relying on street lenders where failure to repay a debt can result in consequences much worse than a poor credit rating.

The path from poverty to economic self-reliance can be a lengthy struggle, but with the support of staff at Four Directions Financial clients are making lasting and meaningful changes in their financial situations.

The path begins with a basic first step – getting a bank account – through this comes learning how to save and invest, build credit, to pay off loans, and finally, owning assets. The road to true financial security is long but with the support of Four Directions Financial, it is now more than just a dream for those that are the most vulnerable in our community.