Canadian banks have really come into their own since the financial meltdown, a debacle that burned most of the world's banks, but left Canada's institutions virtually unscathed.
Since then, several of these financial titans have found their names on various high-profile lists, such as Bloomberg Markets' 10 strongest banks, and the World's 50 Safest Banks. More recently, Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE:BNS) has gathered kudos from a member of the Financial Times family, The Banker magazine, which recognized Scotiabank in several categories, including Global Bank of the Year.
A well-regarded, well-managed bank
Scotiabank is the first great northern bank to be so honored by the magazine, which also bestowed upon Scotia the title of Bank of the Year for the Americas. The judges noted the bank's strong ROE, annual growth rate and its exemplary risk management style. The magazine also noted Scotia's successful global expansion, naming it Bank of the Year in seven countries.
It's true that Scotia, like its peers, has been gobbling up goodies discarded by their not-as-healthy competitors. The bank's acquisition of ING Groep's (NYSE:ING) Canadian unit is set to close by the end of the year, adding $30 billion in deposits to Scotia's coffers. The bank expects the new purchase to be accretive to earnings within the first year.
Additionally, Scotia has been waiting for nearly a year to get Chinese approval for its buyout of the Bank of Guangzhou, held up due to concerns over China-based Cnooc's (OTC:CEO) takeover of Canada's energy giant Nexen (NYSE: NXY), as well as Canada's revamping of its rules governing foreign investment.
Despite the heartiness of Canadian banks, Moody's recently put the entire sector on review for downgrade because of perceived threats to its stability. Issues such as high levels of consumer debt and a looming housing bubble pop were front and center, with the sloggy U.S. economic recovery weighing in as well.
Scotia and other Canadian big boys such as Toronto Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD) and Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE:RY) were on the hit list, though others predicted an excellent earning season for northern banks. Indeed, TD Bank's recent acquisition of Target's (NYSE:TGT) credit card business and recent juicy $0.77 dividend payout doesn't seem to reflect the actions of a bank worried about Moody's dire predictions. Nor did Royal Bank of Canada's just-released Q4 report show any strain, though it did boast a profit increase of 22% year over year.
One Fool's take
If clouds loom on the Canadian banking horizon, they appear to be a long way off -- and certainly aren't affecting Scotiabank. The beauty of the burly Canadian financial sector, however, is the knowledge that, whatever comes its way, banks like the Bank of Nova Scotia will be able to take it in stride. For today's banking investor, that peace of mind is hard to find anywhere else.