The “dust is settling” on Scotiabank’s transformation and the lender is looking forward the coming year as a “dramatically simplified” institution, Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter says.
Porter’s comments come after a year where the bank made a string of divestitures, including the reduction of its operations in Thailand and, most recently, the sale of its operations in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. This was the final stage of Scotiabank’s multi-year plan to streamline its footprint and focus on core markets.
The result of this transformation process is a bank with improved earnings quality and reduced credit and operational risk, Porter said during an on-stage session at RBC Capital Markets’ 2020 Canadian Bank CEO Conference on Tuesday.
"It was a busy year, that’s a lot of work to get from 54 to 33 (countries), I can tell you that,” he said during the question-and-answer session in Toronto. “But we're proud of what we've done, you get a more focused bank at the end of the day… 95% of our net income today comes from the Americas, from Canada down to the tip of Chile. We can focus on those countries where we earn a great ROE.”
The long-term prospects of Chile, which has faced protests in recent months, remain intact, he added.
"We don't have any regrets about our investment in Chile. We acquired a great bank, great assets, good people, and very good technology,” he told Darko Mihelic, research analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “The integration has gone seamlessly, and exceedingly well. And we are ahead of our targets.”
Porter said there are no plans for further mergers or acquisitions in the pipeline.
"The dust is settling. We’re very comfortable with our platform and we’ve made some significant investments in people, process and technology over the last five years and you're starting to see the dividend of that… In an environment where revenues are going to be a little harder to come by for some, we'll manage our expenses,” he said. “We'll take our cue from revenues and manage expenses aggressively, and we look forward to 2020."