Canadian bank CEOs signal slower growth ahead amid trade tensions, falling rates


TORONTO — The top executives of Canada’s biggest banks say investors can expect slower growth thanks to looming trade tensions and America’s falling interest rates, but the lenders remain confident they’ll be able to adapt to the quickly changing macroeconomic environment.

CIBC’s chief executive Victor Dodig told an industry conference in Toronto today that the lenders are operating in “unprecedented” times and people cannot “keep your blinders on.”

Dodig told the Scotiabank Financials Summit that negative interest rates are an issue and questions loom about how trade wars will unfold, but CIBC will be able to manage partly by adjusting its business and investment spending accordingly.

BMO Financial Group’s chief executive Darryl White told the conference that a slower growth environment is ahead, but he likened it to a “breeze in the face” rather than a gale-force headwind.

RBC’s chief executive Dave McKay, agreed there are headwinds but says the outlook is “not as dark,” adding that the lender will continue to focus on economic opportunities and pull back if they do not manifest.

Scotiabank’s chief financial officer Raj Viswanathan said the lender’s biggest tool to help navigate the constantly changing landscape is its diversification, such as its international footprint.


Companies in this story: (TSX:CIBC, TSX:BNS, TSX:RY, TSX:BMO)


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