It’s too bad Stephen Leacock isn’t with us these days. With warm memories in mind of his classic short story, My Financial Career, I would love to get his take on the world of banking in Canada today.
Banks in this country are enormously profitable. Don’t believe me ? Just wait until the first week of December when all of them publish their annual balance sheets. The bottom line profit for most, if not all of them, will be in the billions of dollars. Interest rates have never been lower, but it does not appear to have hurt their profit margin.
What they want more than anything it appears is still more of the same, whatever it takes. This week’s news from Scotiabank made it abundantly clear once again that these pillars of capitalism don’t make much, if any of their revenue, providing customer service. Scotiabank made more than $5 billion last year, but they are cutting more than 1,000 jobs in Canada because of softer than expected revenue in their international operations.
This is very much an industry that plays ‘follow the leader’. We can expect similar moves soon from TD, RBC, CIBC and BMO, because they can. Remember when banks had actual names and not just initials? I chose Scotiabank a few years ago because they offered points on my Scene card which means free movie tickets now and then.
I have no illusions that my bit of business is important to them, despite what they say when you call them and navigate through endless voicemail. The only slightly positive development on the service side involves their call centres. Most often these days your call is actually answered in Canada, rather than India or The Phillipines.
All in all it kind of reminds me of what life is like for Leaf fans. There’s no reward, but something compels the customer to just keep on giving anyway.
I’m Roger Currie