Risk & Compliance

Canadian Banks Face $114B Compliance Bill

New global rules will require the banks to have a shock-absorbing cushion even though they avoided the 2008 crisis.
Matthew HellerNovember 18, 2015

Canada’s six-largest banks will need to convert C$152 billion ($114 billion) of capital into securities to comply with new global rules designed to prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts, according to estimates from Royal Bank of Canada.

Though the banks are not viewed as possible risks to the global financial system, and therefore not subject to the rules, the country will probably move in step with its peers, Bloomberg reports.

Of the C$332.8 billion in compliant capital they will need, the Canadian banks currently have C$180.8 billion, leaving a C$152 billion shortfall, according to RBC.

“The federal government has announced an intention to adopt a similar regime for Canada’s domestic systemically-important banks that would protect taxpayers from losses in the unlikely event of a failure,” David Barnabe, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said.

The new global rules require that by 2022 liabilities equal to 18% of a bank’s risk-weighted assets must be convertible to equity if it faces insolvency.

According to Bloomberg, the Canadian banks can meet that standard by simply replacing maturing debt with the new types of securities, but “the market is signaling banks will have to pay up to do it, raising the cost of doing business.”

“The Canadian banks are like any other bank, they will now have to figure out how to reprice every service they provide,” said James Dutkiewicz, chief investment strategist of Sentry Investments in Toronto. “It will make credit more expensive, make it more difficult to get, or there’ll be less of it around.”

The Bank of Montreal’s cost to raise capital compliant with the new rules doubled when it went to sell C$600 million of preferred shares last month, compared to what it paid to issue similar securities in May, according to National Bank of Canada research.

“BMO blinked and then paid them the coupon they needed, which repriced the entire” market, Dutkiewicz said. “At the end of the day banks are going to be more expensive to run.”