Costs increased far more than revenue did
The Bank of Nova Scotia said its profit slumped in the fourth quarter for a variety of reasons, including doubling the amount of money the bank sets aside to potentially write off loans that are in danger of not being paid back.
The bank reported its net income was $1.39 billion for the three-month period up until the end of October. That's down by more than a third from the $2.09 billion it earned the same time last year.
Revenue came in at $8.31 billion, up from nearly $7.63 billion last year. But the bank was making less money because its costs rose by even more.
The bank's expenses rose to $5.5 billion during the quarter, an increase of 22 per cent. The bank attributed its surging costs to
higher personnel costs, technology-related costs, performance-based compensation, business and capital taxes, share-based compensation, advertising and the unfavourable impact of foreign currency translation.
In October, the bank announced it was laying off about three per cent of its workforce (new window) to rein in costs. On Tuesday the bank revealed it recorded a restructuring and severance charge of $354 million related to those moves.
- Interest rates have skyrocketed. So why hasn't the rate on your savings account budged? (new window)
Another major drag on the company's earnings was money it sets aside to cover bad loans, a closely watched financial metric known as provisions for credit losses.
The bank set aside more than $1.2 billion to cover such loans during the quarter. That's more than double the $529 million worth of provisions it had this time last year.
Within that, the bank set aside $454 million to cover loans that are currently performing fine. That's sharply up from $35 million of such loans last year.
The rest — $802 million — was for loans that are already underperforming, which means they aren't being paid back as planned. That figure was $494 million last year.
The increased provision this quarter was driven primarily by the unfavourable macroeconomic outlook and uncertainty around the impacts of higher interest rates, the bank said of its higher loan losses.
WATCH | What happens if you default on your mortgage?
What happens if you default on your mortgage? | About That
Successive interest rate hikes are causing real financial pain for Canadians forced to budget more of their money to cover interest payments. Kieran Oudshoorn asks mortgage broker Victor Tran what happens if you can’t afford to pay your mortgage.
Mario Mendonca, an analyst with TD Bank who covers Scotia, says the increase in impaired loans "suggests
conditions are deteriorating in Canadian personal loans and unsecured lines."
The bank had $498 million worth of residential mortgages that were
non-performing at the end of October. That's up from $406 million a year ago but still a tiny percentage of their overall home loan portfolio, which came in at $271 billion during the quarter. That's a decline of four per cent or $11 billion from just over $282 billion a year ago.
Mortgage delinquencies ticked higher, but remain low, Mendonca said.
Investors did not respond kindly to Scotiabank's financial results, with the shares losing about five per cent of their value to trade at just over $57 apiece when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened for trading on Tuesday.
Scotiabank is the first of the Big 6 lenders to reveal quarterly financial results in the coming days. Royal Bank, TD and CIBC will reveal their numbers on Thursday, followed by Bank of Montreal and National Bank on Friday.
Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management, says he expects the rest of the bank's to show similarly gloomy numbers.
I think you'll see other Canadian banks also increase reserves against future losses, he said in an interview with CBC News.
It's not a good look overall for the Canadian banks as we head into 2024. All we can hope for is that we escape a recession or it's very mild and that rates do get cut in the next three to six months.
Pete Evans (new window) · CBC News