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Expect slow but steady growth for Canadian banks in 2016

The slumping price of oil has yet to take a major hit to earnings at Canada's Big Six banks.

Jess Morgan 9 December, 2015 | 6:00PM Dan Werner
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Dan Werner: Overall, the banks had a decent 2015. I think that they all saw fairly steady but modest growth in the personal and commercial banking area. While capital markets started off really strong overall, for the year they did very well even though they kind of slowed up with the turbulent markets later in the year. For those banks which had U.S. divisions, they did very well. And I think generally going forward the credit quality for all the banks was very good. Given that we've been at low oil for at least a year-and-a-half, it really hasn't shown up in the impaired loan numbers. It hasn't shown up in the loan losses and we're optimistic that we're going to get kind of slow but steady going forward into 2016.

Bank of Montreal is benefiting from its presence in the U.S. Midwest. We're seeing very strong commercial growth in the U.S. and Bank of Montreal is clearly pegging on to that which helped improve results and helped improve spread income for the quarter.

CIBC had generally lower profits, I think largely because of the restructuring charge that they took earlier in the quarter they announced at their Investor Day in October, largely to address future expenses which they hope to benefit from lower expenses going forward. So, generally, the Canadian personal and commercial business did decently and, as expected with most of the Canadian banks, the capital markets activity and trading revenues were lower.

National Bank had good domestic growth in personal and commercial banking. They also raised some capital during the quarter and raised their dividend, which should address some potential capital deficiencies with its stake in Maple Financial Group, which is undergoing an investigation in Europe. But we don't think that's going to be a significant impact. But overall, pretty good quarter with minimal impact of oil upon its loan portfolio.

For Royal Bank, the personal and commercial business did pretty well. Overall, the Royal Bank of Canada earned net income of greater than $10 billion, which is the first bank and apparently the first Canadian corporation to earn more than $10 billion. The wealth management area had some difficulty. They had to incur some charges and, as expected, the capital markets division did have some decline, largely due to lower trading revenue and lower customer activity on investment banking. But we've seen that from all the Canadian banks, and given the quarters that they had earlier in the year, they will be pretty tough to match.

For Scotiabank, as with the rest of these other Canadian banks, they had decent personal and commercial growth. But where they really saw the increase was on the international side, where they had good balance sheet growth in the Latin American region, and also they realized some significant benefits from the restructuring they did in their Caribbean operations last year, and they are starting to be realized now in this quarter.

TD had a decent quarter with good results from its Canadian personal and commercial banking, but it also realized very good results from its U.S. banking division, which had good balance sheet growth, and plus they realized the benefit from the acquisition of the Nordstrom credit card portfolio.

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About Author

Jess Morgan

Jess Morgan  Jess Morgan is the associate editor of Morningstar Canada’s website. She began her career as a television producer and freelance writer, often making appearances on TV and radio as a commentator on politics and culture. She holds a BA in communications from the University of Winnipeg and a diploma in Creative Communications from Red River College.

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