Home sweet Canada
Scotiabank calls Canada home, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't
spread its wings to embrace the rest of the world. Founded on the
northeastern Canadian island of Nova Scotia in 1832, the company
moved to the big Ontario city of Toronto in 1900. Today, it ranks
as Canada's third-largest bank, and provides a wide range of
services, concentrating on retail, corporate and investment
banking. Scotiabank's other services include personal savings and
checking accounts, as well as lending, brokerage and trust
services. The company also offers asset management (including
mutual funds) and, through its Scotia Capital division, investment
banking services, including underwriting, and mergers and
The bank's biggest area of operations remains its homeland,
Canada, where it offers banking services through a national network
of about 1,000 branches, commercial and business banking centers,
and four call centers. But with nearly 68,000 employees, Scotiabank
and its affiliates lay claim to about 14.6 million customers
internationally, operating in approximately 50 countries around the
The firm trades on the Toronto, New York and London Stock
Exchanges, and is the leading provider of financial services in the
Caribbean. It has the broadest Asian network of any Canadian bank,
and is active in the Latin American market through subsidiaries in
Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico, and affiliates in Peru
The bank also has a long track record of community involvement.
To celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2007, the bank commissioned
and donated new artwork by John Hartman, a Canadian painter, to the
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Waugh said the donation "offered a
unique way for us to create a permanent tribute to Halifax,
Scotiabank's city of origin, and all of the communities in which we
share a long and rich history."
Market expansion -- at home and abroad
Throughout 2008 and 2009, Scotiabank CEO Rick Waugh continued to
expand Scotiabank's overseas reach. In October 2008, Scotiabank
bought Sun Life Financial's stake in CI Financial Income fund for
C$2.3 billion, giving Scotiabank a 37.6 percent stake in CI, the
No. 3 mutual fund company in Canada. A few months earlier, in July
2008, Scotiabank agreed to buy the Canadian operations of E*Trade
Financial Group from the U.S.-based E*Trade for $442 million,
expanding Scotiabank's wealth management business and adding
125,000 active accounts to its stable. E*Trade Canada had 190
employees and C$4.7 billion in assets under administration at the
time of the deal.
In May 2008, Scotiabank bought Banco del Trabajo, then the
ninth-largest commercial bank in Peru. And in February 2008,
Scotiabank acquired Banco de Antigua in Guatemala and select assets
of Banco de Ahorro y Credito Atlas Cumbres in the Dominican
Republic. Banco de Antigua had 47 branches and 98 "rapidito" kiosks
at the time of the deal, and had 160,00 clients with $82 million in
assets under management. Banco de Ahorro y Credito had six branches
and 35 kiosks, and served some 39,000 clients; it had $29 million
in assets under management. Scotiabank also recently starting
working out of offices in Russia and Turkey.
By mid-2009, according to Bloomberg, Scotiabank had spent more
than C$2 billion to acquire foreign banks and lenders during
Scotiabank maintains six locations in the U.S. --
Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Houston and Portland --
from which it caters to large, national and multinational
corporations through its subsidiary, Scotia Capital. Scotia Capital
has operated in the U.S. for more than a century, overseeing the
bank's global relationships with large corporate, institutional and
government clients. The subsidiary specializes in syndicated
lending, corporate debt and equity underwriting, mergers and
acquisitions, fixed income and institutional equities sales and
trading, foreign exchange, derivatives, and precious metals
products and services.
Praise for superiors
It seems as though employees (mostly) love their managers. Insiders
say, "There is great respect from my superiors and the feelings are
mutual," even though "communication can be at times removed and
greater presence amongst staff would go a long way." For the most
part, though, employees report being "very pleased" and say
"respect, encouragement and mentoring are all alive and well."
Offers one staffer, "We are a family here, and since each of us has
ups and downs, we don't take it personally. But if something is
wrong, it is usually taken to management, and then it's taken care
of with delicate understanding."
While the firm's official policy on dress leans toward
business casual with casual Fridays, there seems to be an insider
consensus toward keeping things a little more elegant. "I am more
comfortable with more formal dress," admits one insider. Another
employee agrees, noting that while "sometimes summer dress is a
little more casual," dress shouldn't swing toward overly casual. "I
don't think jeans are appropriate."
Could stand an upgrade
Generally, respondents aren't delighted with the state of
their office space. One says the offices are "a little noisy at
times as we work in an open-concept environment," while another
complains about the office being housed in a "very old building
where ventilation is difficult and fluctuates." And one contact
complains that there are no ceilings in the offices that are "right
beside teller line -- there's a lack of overall privacy."
The firm's training programs receive meager marks from sources
as well. Scotiabank gave "no training at all when I was promoted to
my current position," reports one contact. Another adds that the
bank's "formal program is a little weak," although "informal and
formal coaching is very strong.""
The firm is "all-inclusive" and offers "equal opportunity to women
and men," insiders report. And those outside Scotiabank seem to
agree as well. The firm was honored with the 2007 Catalyst award
for their "Advancement of Women" initiative. Presented to just a
few companies per year, the award singles out efforts toward
developing women's careers.
Scotiabank's recruitment and retention of ethnic minorities
receive high marks, though employees don't seem to recall an
official company policy regarding gays and lesbians. "My location
is rural, and clients are conservative," says one insider.
"However, I have never felt my firm has any opinion on gays and
lesbians. It's just not an issue."
Another employee working in Calgary is stunned by the diversity
within the company. "The diversity in our branch alone is amazing
and truly reflective of Canada as a global melting pot. We have
employees from countries like Ethiopia, India, Ukraine, Denmark,
Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and Zimbabwe." And "being as
diverse as our branch is, we're always learning more about each
other through social events and pot-luck lunches."