Scotiabank Reports Decreased Profits Amid Rising Costs and Increased Provisions for Bad Loans

Scotiabank's latest financial results reflect the challenges faced by major financial institutions in the current economic climate, marked by uncertainties and rising costs.

The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) reported a significant drop in its fourth-quarter profits, primarily due to a substantial increase in money set aside for potentially bad loans, as reported by CBC News. The bank’s net income fell to $1.39 billion in the quarter ending October, marking a decline from $2.09 billion in the same period last year.

Key Financial Metrics

Scotiabank’s revenue showed an uptick, reaching $8.31 billion compared to nearly $7.63 billion last year. However, this increase was offset by a 22 percent rise in expenses, amounting to $5.5 billion. The bank attributed the surge in costs to various factors, including “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.”

Provisions for Credit Losses

A significant factor in the bank’s decreased profitability was the amount set aside as provisions for credit losses, which more than doubled to $1,256 million from $529 million last year. Of this, $454 million was allocated for loans currently performing well, a steep increase from $35 million last year. The remaining $802 million covered loans already underperforming, up from $494 million in the previous year. The bank noted that the increased provision was “driven primarily by the unfavourable macroeconomic outlook and uncertainty around the impacts of higher interest rates.”

Scotiabank’s profitability was dragged down by having to set aside more than twice as much money to cover potentially bad loans. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Mortgage Portfolio and Restructuring

Scotiabank’s mortgage portfolio also saw a decrease, dropping from just over $349 billion last year to $344 billion. Additionally, the bank reported a restructuring and severance charge of $354 million related to its recent workforce reduction of about 3 percent.

Market Response

Investors reacted negatively to Scotiabank’s financial results, with the bank’s shares dropping by approximately 5 percent to just over $57 on the Toronto Stock Exchange following the announcement.

Context Within the Banking Sector

Scotiabank’s report comes as the first among the Big 6 Canadian lenders to disclose quarterly financial results. Royal Bank, TD, and CIBC are expected to follow suit on Thursday, with Bank of Montreal and National Bank rounding out the week on Friday.