CEOs of Canada's big banks expect Donald Trump will be boost for U.S. operations

TORONTO _ The CEOs of some of Canada’s biggest banks say they’re expecting to see their U.S. businesses get a boost from stronger economic growth south of the border as the new Donald Trump administration takes over.

“The talk is that there’s going to be corporate tax reform, there’s going to be more infrastructure spending, there’s going to be less regulatory burden for industry in general, not just for banks,” TD Bank (TSX:TD) CEO Bharat Masrani said Tuesday at a conference in Toronto.

“All of that is stimulating for the economy.”

Dave McKay, the CEO of Royal Bank (TSX:RY), said the pro-growth policies that Trump is expected to implement could lead to higher interest rates, which would be positive for the bank’s operations in the U.S.

“We see strong opportunities in the U.S. market for our capital markets franchise, which has enormous momentum,” McKay said at the RBC 2017 Canadian Bank CEO Conference.

It isn’t just higher interest rates that could benefit the U.S. operations of Canada’s biggest banks. The stimulative effects of pro-growth policies on the U.S. economy would also boost business and consumer confidence and could lead to higher loan growth for the banks, according to several of the bank CEOs.

“Clearly, the new administration is creating an environment in which our clients are much more comfortable in talking about capital investment, about expanding their businesses,” said Bill Downe, CEO of the Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO).

While rising rates in the U.S. would be a positive for TD, Masrani cautioned that too sharp of a rise could have the opposite effect.

“If the rates go so high so quick, then it’s going to be negative to the economy because we might get into a slowdown of some kind,” he said. “So you want to make sure this is within reason.”

Speaking at the same conference in Toronto, CIBC CEO Victor Dodig said it’s premature to speculate what policies Trump may implement.

“What’s happened with the new incoming administration is that they’ve telegraphed certain policies,” Dodig said.

“What actually gets implemented and how it will look and what kind of economic benefit that will deliver is yet to be seen.”

Dodig said there are some inconsistencies in the incoming administration’s messaging about protectionism, trade and tax policy.

“Speculating about administrations and politics is not what I’m paid to do,” Dodig said. “What we’re paid to do is make sure that we can increase shareholder value with whoever runs any particular country that we choose to operate in.”