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The Canadian Financial Industry as an Investment

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Canadian financial industry should be looked at as a possible appropriate investment for your portfolio. In Canada the financial industry has three different tiers. The first tier of banks, called Schedule 1, may not be subsidiaries of any foreign bank. These banks are allowed to enforce a security interest under the Canadian Bank Act which gives them a distinct competitive advantage over foreign banks that enter into the Canadian market. The majority of Canada's financial industry is run by what's known as "The Big 5" which are:

The Royal Bank of Canada or RBC
Bank of Montreal or BMO
Bank of Nova Scotia or Scotiabank
Toronto Dominion Bank or TD Canada Trust
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce or CIBC

The second and third tiers, Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 banks respectively, are allowed to be owned by foreigners but face certain restrictions outlined in the Bank Act.

There are distinct advantages to investing in the Canadian Financial Industry over the US or another country's Financial Industry. The Big 5 all have a national presence and have a wide range of services beyond banking and mortgages like insurance, brokerage houses and investment banks, making them much less susceptible to failures. There have been only 2 bank failures in Canada's history vs. about 12,000 in the US.

The Canadian economy is a strong, resource-based economy and in times where resources are rising, Canadian banks benefit as business activities that require financial services like loans and insurance plans for mining and investment bank services for Mergers and Acquisitions. It is always a good idea to diversify your portfolio into foreign assets and the Financial Industry is a very easy way for Non-Canadians to invest in Canada as all five banks are cross-listed on Canadian and US stock exchanges and all five have the same symbol on both exchanges.

Royal Bank trades under the symbol RY
BMO trades under the symbol BMO
Bank of Nova Scotia trades under the symbol BNS
TD Bank trades under the symbol TD
CIBC trades under the symbol CM

All 5 companies pay dividends ranging in the 3-5% range depending on the stock price relative to the size of the dividend at the time. The Canadian banks have relatively little volatility in their stock price compared to the American banks and have recovered most if not all of the losses seen during the stock market crash of 2008 while some American banks remain 90% or more off of their 2007 prices. Having a portfolio of the big 5 banks may be more appropriate for you compared to Mutual Funds or Exchange-Traded Funds from Canada as these banks will make up a significant portion of these funds value anyways, and you aren't subject to administrative fees on Mutual Funds or Contango on ETFs.


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