Toronto's and Ontario's cash cow -- banking -- is going to face increasingly rough seas. This won't happen immediately, but a steadily downward trajectory affecting profits and employment is clear. At a recent high-level conference in New York on the future of finance, the news was great for consumers but grim for the world's bankers.
Cash has been plentiful in emerging markets. Between 2009-2012 as quantitative easing ramped up, there was a massive expansion in borrowing on global bond markets by emerging market (EM) sovereigns, banks and companies. As a result, EM economies are now closely integrated into global debt markets, and thus more affected by actions taken in Developed Markets (DMs), particularly the withdrawal of quantitative easing (QE).
In a town perhaps previously best known for providing the dirt that allowed Boston to double in size by filling in its swampy Back Bay there is a startling banking counter-revolution underway. Led by long-established but newly-rejuvenated Needham Bank and involving not only that town but those nearby, community banking is reclaiming market share.
There is a major battle going on in the financial services industry, and your welfare is at stake. What's the war over? Whether or not the person you're trusting to invest your money is legally required to act in your best interest. Right now, they only have to make sure the investments they're selling you are "suitable." I would like to see legislation for fiduciary duty and I'll tell you why.
While it took a few years after the financial crisis for financial services start-ups to get their business models refined to the point where they can come to market they are here now, and these alternative financial services technology companies are becoming viable and increasingly common sources of financing for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
In this day and age of free market orthodoxy, the banks don't like to think of themselves as having any sort of "moral obligations," only obligations to shareholders. But the protection Canadian banks enjoy -- the same protection that has allowed them to prosper internationally -- means that the banks do not operate in a free market environment, and if they want to continue having their cake and eating it too they should accept they have responsibilities towards the Canadians who have little choice but to bank with them.