Canada's Biggest Banks
"Credit costs were somewhat elevated but investors may be more concerned about the continued increases in exposure to oil and gas loans," Shanahan said in a note to clients, pointing out that outstanding loans to clients in the oil and gas sector grew to $16.5 billion, up $700 million from the previous quarter and $3.6 billion higher compared to a year ago. The energy sector represented 10 per cent of Scotiabank's total lending to business and government, Shanahan said. Meanwhile, the bank has trimmed its ranks by 1,140 staff since the end of July. At the end of the fourth quarter, Scotiabank had 89,214 employees, down from 90,354 at the end of the previous quarter. Most of the slimming down —1,014 positions — took place in its Canadian operations. Scotiabank announced plans in October to shutter certain Canadian offices over the next two years as it digitizes certain document processing functions. The lender did not say at the time how many roles would be effected. "We are well underway on our digital transformation of the bank, and we are also making the necessary investments to reduce our structural costs," Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter said during the company's conference call Tuesday. "These efforts will enhance our customers' experience and drive financial benefit over the medium and longer term." The Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) also reported higher fourth-quarter net income, which rose 13 per cent from last year to $1.214 billion, beating analyst estimates and taking the total for the 2015 financial year to $4.405 billion. The profit for the three month period equalled $1.83 per BMO common share, or $1.90 on an adjusted basis. Revenue for the quarter came to $4.982 billion, up from $4.64 billion during the same period last year. The bank raked in a total of $19.389 billion in revenue during the financial year. Several analysts noted that while BMO's results look impressive on the surface, some of the reason why the bank beat analyst expectations by such a wide margin stem from the sale of its retirement services and a legal settlement. "Overall, the details turn a 'wow' headline into something closer to an in-line quarter," CIBC analyst Robert Sedran said in a note to clients.