TORONTO, April 13, 2021 /CNW/ - Scotiabank today hosted its 189th Annual Meeting of Shareholders via webcast and teleconference. In his address, President and CEO Brian Porter thanked Scotiabankers and the medical community for their resilience throughout the pandemic, as well as the Board of Directors for their engagement and counsel. He also highlighted the success of the Bank's strategic repositioning while outlining investments and policy recommendations to support customers, businesses and communities as the global economy recovers.
"Shortly after becoming CEO, I outlined our plan to create shareholder value over the longer term. A plan to put our customers first, build a winning team, and lead in the businesses and markets where we operate," said Mr. Porter. "Today, the Bank's repositioning program is largely complete, and our overall financial and operational strength has never been better."
Delivering on our Strategic Priorities
Mr. Porter outlined how Scotiabank has achieved significant progress on its growth strategy. Since 2013, the Bank has exited 25 unrated or sub-investment grade countries and eight non-core businesses and redeployed approximately $10 billion to stable, high-growth businesses and geographies with better return on investment. It acquired BBVA Chile, strengthening its position in a high growth market, as well as Jarislowsky Fraser and MD Financial, which bolstered its Wealth Management capabilities both in Canada and across its footprint.
Over the past year, Scotiabank has also made strong progress against its digital targets, with active digital and mobile usage up almost 20 percent. Digital sales now account for over 40 percent of retail banking sales and nearly 90 percent of all banking transactions are self-serve.
"The Bank's Q1/2021 earnings demonstrate the full power of our repositioned well-diversified businesses. Our share performance since the start of the Bank's fiscal year is top-of-class, and further evidence that our strategy is working and our repositioning efforts are having their planned effect," said Mr. Porter. "We intend to build on that solid momentum throughout the balance of the year and beyond."
Living our Purpose
Mr. Porter also outlined Scotiabank's two-fold purpose: to provide profitable solutions to meet the needs of customers, and future customers, and to play a role as an important part of the economic and social fabric of every country in which it operates, to serve as a driver of broader economic growth.
Examples of how Scotiabank is living this purpose include several new ESG initiatives that aim to build a stronger, more inclusive and cleaner world; like the Bank's goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a strategy that is currently in development, which will include interim targets, timelines and transparent reporting – and the launch of ScotiaRise, a $500 million commitment designed to remove barriers and provide greater access to opportunity for disadvantaged groups across the communities where Scotiabank operates. Mr. Porter also reinforced the bank's commitment to speaking out against all forms of discrimination.
"As a Leading Bank in the Americas we benefit enormously from diversity. We know that a workplace that truly reflects the communities it serves produces the strongest results," said Mr. Porter. "That is why discrimination has no room in our Bank, or in society, and we will continue to oppose it at every opportunity. In fact, we aspire to be the Bank of choice for the diverse communities we serve, from both a customer and employee point of view."
Rejecting the 2% growth trap
Scotiabank recently partnered with the Public Policy Forum (PPF), an independent policy think-tank based in Ottawa, that encourages dialogue between leaders in both the private and public sectors to foster better public policy. As part of this agreement, Scotiabank will fund a research program that focuses on Canadian economic competitiveness in general and a national industrial strategy in particular.
The first report of the series – co-authored by PPF Scotiabank Fellow in Strategic Competitiveness, Sean Speer and Scotiabank Director of Economic Forecast Nikita Perevalov – is titled Beyond Two Percent: The Case for Economic Growth in the Post-Pandemic Age.
In his remarks, Mr. Porter proposed three policy recommendations that would have a direct and positive impact on Canada's GDP, increase the number of working Canadians, and contribute to a stronger and more prosperous country.
Prior to the pandemic, Canada's annual GDP growth rate averaged less than two percent – a scenario similar among advanced economies.
Recognizing that this slow rate of growth was a challenge even before the current crisis, Mr. Porter stressed that we should not accept what has been commonly referred to as the "two percent growth trap" and instead seize on opportunities to pursue policies that ensure Canada can achieve higher and better growth for a sustained period.
To do so, he recommended topping up the Canada Child Benefit by an extra $5,000 for each child in childcare, as well as increasing the Canada child tax credit to allow parents to fully deduct the cost of preschool childcare.
"More often than not, women are the ones who set aside their career ambitions to ensure their children receive quality care and education," said Mr. Porter. "Providing greater flexibility to families to find child-care arrangements that are best suited for them is good for women, it's good for families, and it's good for the country."
To support the business community, Mr. Porter proposed that the federal government launch a time-limited, matching grant for capital investment by businesses that invest in machinery, equipment and intellectual property. "Capital investments make businesses more globally competitive, improve Canada's productivity, and drive innovation," continued Mr. Porter. "These two policies alone could make a meaningful impact on Canada's economic trajectory."
Finally, he suggested the elimination of interprovincial trade barriers – a policy the Bank has been advocating for many years. According to a working paper produced by the IMF, complete liberalization of internal trade in goods could increase Canada's GDP per capita by approximately 4% per year.
"We are a country full of people who are capable of imagining and creating great things," concluded Mr. Porter. "From skyscrapers, to the next generation of telecommunication technology, to life-saving vaccines. We have an opportunity today to decide what future we're going to build – let it be a future of dynamism, growth, and prosperity, one that is truly inclusive and benefits all Canadians."
To read a copy of Brian Porter's remarks from the 189th Annual Meeting of Shareholders, visit https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/about/investors-shareholders/annual-reports.html.
Scotiabank is a leading bank in the Americas. Guided by our purpose: "for every future", we help our customers, their families and their communities achieve success through a broad range of advice, products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets. With a team of approximately 90,000 employees and assets of approximately $1.2 trillion (as at January 31, 2021), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: BNS) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BNS). For more information, please visit http://www.scotiabank.com and follow us on Twitter @ScotiabankViews.