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$7 Billion in profit and layoffs - sponsored by Scotiabank


Staff member
Scotiabank to cut 1,500 jobs, close about 120 branches

The Globe and Mail

“deliver sustained cost savings through operational excellence.” - Brian Porter

Exactly one year after he took over, Brian Porter is shaking up Bank of Nova Scotia.

Early Tuesday morning Scotiabank’s chief executive officer announced a surprising series of changes to the lender’s operations in Canada and abroad, including restructuring charges, layoffs and loan losses. The news comes during the first week of the lender’s new fiscal year, which started November.

Andrew Bell listened in to the Scotiabank conference call in which CEO Brian Porter explained why the bank has been closing dozens of branches in Mexico as part of a series of cuts.

In total, the charges amount to $451-million before tax, or $351-million after tax. The job losses, to be felt everywhere from head office to the branches, are expected to total 1,500 positions, and two-thirds of the cuts will be made in Canada.

Scotiabank has also replaced two regional heads. Executives in the four international markets that the bank prioritizes – Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile – will now report directly to Dieter Jentsch, who runs international banking, while Enrique Zorrilla has been named head of Scotiabank Mexico. Brendan King has been appointed the senior vice-president for international banking. Troy Wright, who recently oversaw the Mexican operations, and Wendy Hannam, who ran Latin America, are leaving the bank.

Restructuring Scotiabank’s operations will cost $148-million, an expense that will be incurred when the lender reports fourth quarter earnings in December, and the changes will shrink the number of jobs in multiple divisions, ranging from wealth management to capital markets.

However, the majority of the severance costs will be tied to positions in personal and commercial banking in Canada and abroad.

At home, Scotiabank has been trying to centralize and automate a number of mid-office functions. Outside Canada, the lender will shut or shrink 120 branches, largely in Mexico and the Caribbean, to focus on high-growth markets such as Chile and Colombia. Once made, these changes are expected to save the bank $120-million annually.

Mr. Porter, who took over as CEO in November 2013, has long stressed the need to clamp down on costs, even though the bank made a record annual profit of $6.7-billion in 2013.

At an investor day in April, Scotiabank made it clear that one of the bank’s top goals was to “deliver sustained cost savings through operational excellence.”

“The reality is in a slow-growing economy like the Canadian market, expense management through operational excellence is imperative,” Anatol von Hahn, the lender’s head of Canadian personal and commercial banking, said during the investor day. “A number of programs are already under way to deliver sustained cost savings. Our initial phase is expected to deliver an additional gross reduction in our cost base of approximately $150-million and improve our efficiency ratio by 1 per cent to 2 per cent over the next three to five years.”

Mr. Porter said on a conference call Tuesday that the bank’s revenue growth has been encouraging outside Canada, but profit has not jumped as much he would like. “The frustration for us across the international footprint is we’ve had very solid asset growth over the last three or four years, and not all of that has dropped to the bottom line,” he said.

Beyond this restructuring, Scotiabank’s additional charges range from a writedown on the value of the bank’s investment in Banco del Caribe in Venezuela to $109-million worth of loan losses in the Caribbean, where the regional economy continues to suffer in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Other charges stem from: bankruptcy writedowns related to retail banking accounts in Canada; legal claims spread across different business lines; changes to derivative valuations; and amendments to the methodology used when estimating Canadian loan losses.

“Outside of crisis periods, it is rare to see such a varied group of charges reported by a Canadian bank,” CIBC World Markets analyst Rob Sedran wrote in a note to clients. “Although we do not think [Scotiabank] is in crisis, the charges do make it obvious to us that it is facing a challenging operating environment in several jurisdictions.”

Scotiabank’s Caribbean charges come on the heels of similar writedowns from Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the two other Canadian banks with large operations in the region. Earlier this year CIBC announced a $420-million after-tax goodwill writedown on its Caribbean operations.

Scotiabank’s Caribbean writedowns largely stem from three loans to the hospitality sector. The total portfolio for this regional sector amounted to roughly $1.3-billion one year ago, the bank said, but that value had already fallen to $1-billion before the new charges by embarking on various initiatives, such as selling some loans.

“Today’s announcement is a result of making some difficult but necessary decisions to support our long-term goals,” Mr. Porter said in a statement. “Everyone impacted by these changes will be treated with fairness and respect and deserves our thanks for their important contributions to Scotiabank. We are confident that these initiatives will allow us to continue investing in high-growth areas of the Bank.

Notwithstanding these unusual charges, we remain confident that our 2014 reported results will be within our financial objectives for the full year.”

Scotiabank to cut 1,500 jobs, close about 120 branches amid writedown - The Globe and Mail
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


TRIBE Member
there's nothing investors love more than layoffs. After a period of growth and massive profit, responsible companies contract their operations in order to keep their operations tight and avoid unnecessary waste. This attracts new investment, and the company can grow again without angering shareholders.
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TRIBE Member
The same ideology that brought you a hate on for unions that set the lower class against itself and brought us tax cut obsession and free market fundamentalism is what brought us the logic of layoffs = progress.

Developing human capital is not as important as capital capital - though one could argue a strong investment in human capital is what gets you the real capital
The same ideology that brought you a hate on for unions that set the lower class against itself and brought us tax cut obsession and free market fundamentalism is what brought us the logic of layoffs = progress.

Developing human capital is not as important as capital capital - though one could argue a strong investment in human capital is what gets you the real capital

Now, now, you're not quite right - human capital gets you the real capital when they work for free.

Like what galactic grade dickhead Stephen Poloz (as in the guy who's in charge of the Bank of Canada) recently said towards the young folk:


This coming from a guy who earns over $400K a year.


TRIBE Member
Haha I stand corrected!!

Anyway I understand the logic of the market but as an employee of a large publicly traded company I have seen what happens in the weeds when these cycles come and go.

I'm happy to be a bit of an independent voice and remind people of what we lost along the way when the opportunity presents itself.

Also sometimes you see how the quarterly pressure shapes everything in an organization and wonder at how those pressures and constraints could be evolved over time into something that can overcome the downsides of having to show consistent "progress" every three months.


TRIBE Member
Praktik, all due respect but you work for the hands-down most profitable "business" of your employer.. just sayin'.


TRIBE Member
Sure but I'm a dreamer - I wonder for instance at how the market could incentivize better a long term planning strategy that isn't jeopardized for short term relief and quick changes made cause there's tight conditions leading up to the next quarterly.

Thinking meta here about markets and business strategy in general - not just my corner of it all, which I'm happy to keep out of this discussion except in the broadest generalities.
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TRIBE Member
scotiabank's last board meeting.