Canadian banks up to the challenge in 2006: But more to come



    TORONTO, April 2 /CNW/ - It is a time of change for Canadian banks, but
it's not stopping them from earning record profits. Canada's Big Six banks
overcame many challenges in 2006 to earn a combined net income of over
$19 billion - 50% higher than 2005 according to Canadian Banks 2007,
PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) annual review of the banking industry.
    "Canadian banks showed they can prosper in the face of change in 2006.
The year was a challenge on several fronts but they still turned in stellar
results," says Diana Chant, Partner and Leader of the PwC Financial Services
Practice in Canada. "The challenges are not over-regulatory issues and
increased competition will only intensify in the coming years. Canada's banks
will need to stay nimble and continue to adapt. But the earnings in 2006 speak
for themselves."
    Spending by Canadian banks on regulatory and compliance requirements has
been substantial, and resources had to be pulled from other projects to deal
with them. More resources will be needed with the changes that will be brought
by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and impact of Basel II.
European banks have already dealt with IFRS and found the effort should not be
underestimated.
    The race for customers in the Canadian banking industry is also gaining
speed. And competition is coming from both smaller players and global giants.
The number of foreign banks in Canada has been steadily increasing in recent
years. Many are niche banks that focus on specific services such as credit
cards or mortgages - they do one thing and they do it well. At the global
level, Canada's big six banks should be competing against other large global
financial institutions.
    "Banks are focusing on customers like never before. Satisfied customers
provide a stable base of income and the banks realize the retail market is the
new battleground," says Chant. "The Big Six are expanding their services
across the board - and are opening new branches for the first time in a long
time. Banks are realizing that branches are an excellent distribution channels
for their products and services and want to cash in on the opportunities."

    
    Canadian Banks 2007 looked at other serious challenges banks will face in
the coming years, including:

    -   Protecting customer information from security breaches
    -   Fighting the global war for talent
    -   Better serve customer needs
    -   Becoming more efficient and productive to stay cost competitive with
        their global rivals
    

    "All of Canada's banks will try to improve productivity and get leaner so
they can acquire, integrate and grow," says Chant. "They have to compete with
players on a global scale but they have a fighting chance - especially given
Canada's strong dollar and economy."
    Canadian Banks 2007, PwC's annual survey of the banking industry is
available on-line at: www.pwc.com/ca/canadianbanks.

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance,
tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its
clients and their stakeholders. More than 140,000 people in 149 countries
across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop
fresh perspectives and practical advice. Now celebrating 100 years of
excellence in Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (www.pwc.com/ca) and its
related entities have more than 4,700 partners and staff in offices across the
country.

    "PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Canada, an
Ontario limited liability partnership, or, as the context requires, the
PricewaterhouseCoopers global network or other member firms of the network,
each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.




For further information:

For further information: Carolyn Forest, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,
(416) 814-5730, carolyn.forest@ca.pwc.com; Peter Zvanitajs,
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, (416) 941-8383 x13408, peter.zvanitajs@ca.pwc.com

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