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When people get displaced, many of them don't have help to get established financially, especially when it comes to being protected from those who might try to take advantage of them or scam them, says one advisor.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

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Some Canadian financial advisors are fighting for Ukraine in ways that go far beyond their fields of expertise.

Many are helping clients direct charitable donations in the most effective and tax-efficient ways. Some are co-ordinating volunteers and aid shipments, along with planning future fundraising to support post-war rebuilding efforts. Others are taking it a step further and setting up customized financial resources for the thousands of Ukrainians arriving in Canada, while a few are even making space in their own homes for newcomers to stay.

Carole Urias, certified financial planner, insurance and financial advisor at Peak Investment Services Inc. in East Selkirk, Man., is preparing to host four members of her extended Ukrainian family – two parents and their six-year-old and two-year-old children – after they managed to escape to Poland.

After spending several hours on a video call going over their immigration documents, she realized fellow advisors could start offering their skills to help with complex paperwork for Ukrainians fleeing to Canada via the federal government’s new temporary residence program.

“What is really going to be helpful and needed is that if you go through the documents required to come to Canada and say, ‘I have experience with paperwork like this or I can advocate on your behalf,’” says Ms. Urias. “That could make a big difference to people.”

Peter Gimon, financial security advisor with Navigo Financial Solutions in Oakville, Ont., is also offering to shelter newly arrived Ukrainians.

“My kids have moved out and I have a 4,000-square-foot house and it’s just me and my wife right now,” Mr. Gimon says.

While he is waiting for his local Ukrainian church to send out an appeal on behalf of the new immigrants, he says it would be a good idea to establish a group of volunteer advisors to help.

“When people get displaced and they have to come here, many of them have nobody to help them to get established financially, especially when it comes to protecting them from those who might try to take advantage of them or scam them,” he says.

Helping the Ukrainians should just be the starting point, Mr. Gimon says, arguing that advisors should help those coming from other parts of the world such as Afghanistan or Syria because they will need to reassess their finances.

Taras Pidzamecky, chief executive officer and general counsel of Ukrainian Credit Union (UCU), which is a member-owned financial co-operative in Toronto, says the organization traces its origins back to 1944 and has helped waves of newly arrived Ukrainians find their financial footing in Canada. It’s also providing customized support to the latest generation. Some examples include preferential loan terms, no-fee bank accounts and credit cards with $1,500 limits without the need to submit credit histories or collateral.

“There will be some who have never left Ukraine and don’t speak any English and won’t have any kind of access to finances,” Mr. Pidzamecky says. “They’re going to have different needs compared to others who perhaps have travelled a bit, speak some English and are a little more well off.”

The organization is aiming to help those who need it most, but the resources are available to everyone, he adds.

The UCU has branches in 12 cities in Ontario, and many have ended up becoming networking centres, connecting people who want to volunteer, and those who need advice, Mr. Pidzamecky says. The Hamilton branch recently helped co-ordinate two humanitarian flights to Ukraine.

The UCU is also waiving all wire and money transfer fees to Ukraine or to neighbouring countries where millions have been displaced.

It’s a similar situation in Manitoba, where the Carpathia Credit Union has also started waiving fees associated with sending money to Ukraine and has established a capacity for one-click donations on its website.

The other ways to donate

Craig Swistun, associate portfolio manager with Lexicon Financial Group at Raymond James Investment Counsel Ltd. in Toronto, says advisors can provide the most value to those who can afford to offer other financial support.

“If a client wants to give $200 or $500 on their credit card, then more power to them, but I think it’s our job as professionals in the industry to just say ... ‘Can we explore this?’” Mr. Swistun says. “Out of that will come a more efficient way to donate.”

Giving to a domestic charity that is working in Ukraine as opposed to a Ukraine-based charity allows the donor to get a tax credit, he says, “and then you can do some quick math and figure out how that allows you to give more.”

Gifts of appreciated securities allow the donor to get the same tax credit while also avoiding capital gains taxes. They can also be processed in as little as one day and any registered Canadian charity is able to accept them, Mr. Swiston says.

“Is it slower than donating cash? Yes, but is it that much slower? No,” he says. “Giving cash is the fastest, but least efficient way to give.”

Meanwhile, Funding Matters Inc. in Toronto has created an online tool called Giftabulator that potential donors can use to compare the various ways to offer financial support to Ukraine.

Bill Petruck, the firm’s chief executive officer, says part of the goal is to provide advisors with a platform similar to a mortgage calculator that allows them to discuss broader goals with clients such as how to support Ukraine’s post-war rebuilding efforts.

“We want to make people aware, but advisors have to play a role,” Mr. Petruck says. “The reality is most donors won’t know where to turn. They won’t realize that they need to be talking to their advisor about this.”

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