Canadian Bankers Association

Canadian Bankers Association

December 07, 2009 12:00 ET

Seize Window of Opportunity to Make Financial Services a Key Canadian Industry

Long-term vision needed to maintain Canada's competitive advantage

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 7, 2009) - Today Canada's banks, financial regulators and the Canadian government have a unique opportunity to build on our financial sector's current position of strength to develop a vision of financial services as a key strategic industry for this country. That was the message delivered by Nancy Hughes Anthony, President and CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association, in a speech today to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa.

"As we emerge from the global financial crisis, now is the time for government and regulators to pause and reflect, to consider how, together with our banks, they can help maintain Canada's competitive advantage in financial services," said Ms. Hughes Anthony. "With cooperation, we can develop a shared commitment to making Canada's financial services industry a world leader: a flagship industry for Canada in the global marketplace."

In support of this position, Ms. Hughes Anthony highlighted that, while there have been 150 bank failures in the United States and hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts, Canada has not had a single bank failure and the Canadian government has not had to use taxpayers' money to bailout Canada's banks. She went on to caution policy makers against rushing into decisions without fully understanding or considering their long-term implications.

"Prudent regulation has certainly helped our financial sector achieve its current level of success while protecting Canadians, but it has not been responsible for the banks' growth or their own risk management," noted Ms. Hughes Anthony. "The key will be to give banks the maximum amount of freedom to grow, balanced with the minimum level of regulation necessary for protection. Changes to regulation should be limited and implemented only after thorough consultation with those whose businesses stand to be affected."

Ms. Hughes Anthony pointed to four main areas of action to help Canada's
financial system capitalize on its current strengths:

- A principles-based approach to regulation of the financial sector, which
avoids the dangers of over-regulation and regulation that is too

- A national, uniform approach to the regulation of financial services that
includes a single securities regulator. Today Canada is the only
industrialized country without a national regulator for securities.

- Legislation to protect both consumers and financial institutions from
financial crimes, including fraud. Measures like the recently-passed
federal identity theft legislation are a good step in the right

- The government should stay the course with respect to the direction of
its taxation policies. It has made excellent progress to date and this
will have a beneficial impact on all businesses, on jobs and economic
growth across Canada.

It is the combination of good regulation and good management that has made Canada's banks strong and well-positioned globally. But government policies and regulation cannot build a business or an industry. That takes good management, which Canada's banks have demonstrated that they have. Canada's banks avoided irresponsible mortgage lending, maintained higher capital levels than they were required to, kept credit flowing to help businesses grow and continued to invest in technology, branches and jobs.

This is why, as Ms. Hughes Anthony noted in her speech, it is not surprising that a recent Strategic Counsel survey found that more than three-quarters of Canadians have favourable views of our banks and that this number has grown since the start of the global financial crisis. Furthermore, over 80 per cent believe our banks are stable and secure and 88 per cent agree that it is important for Canada to have a strong banking sector that can compete internationally.

Ms. Hughes Anthony concluded her presentation noting that it will be through cooperative efforts that a truly visionary national strategy for financial services will emerge, to the benefit of all Canadians.

The full text of the speech is available through the following link:

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 50 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 263,400 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Bankers Association
    Andrew Addison
    (416) 362-6093, ext. 220 or Cell: (416) 587-7733