Toronto-Dominion Bank braced for stormy shareholder meeting

Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:20am EDT
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By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO (Reuters) - Executives at Toronto-Dominion Bank will on Thursday face shareholders for the first time since media reports suggested branch staff were pressured to meet sales targets, causing its shares to tumble.

Chief Executive Bharat Masrani is expected to be grilled by investors about how Canada's second-biggest lender is responding to the reports and whether the bank plans to scrap or re-shape sales incentives for branch staff, industry sources said.

TD's shares are currently trading around 6 percent below the level they were at before a March 10 report by CBC News, Canada's public broadcaster, that cited branch staff as saying they moved customers to higher fee accounts and raised their overdraft and credit card limits without their knowledge.

CBC News later reported that staff at Canada's other big banks had admitted to similar behavior.

TD and the other banks have defended their practices. But Canada's financial watchdog has said it will start a review of their business practices in April.

"There is tremendous pressure on all bank employees to sell bank products and there has been for quite a period of time. Their evaluation is done on the basis of moving product," said Tom Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Securities, which holds shares in all of Canada's major banks.

Banks in Britain have stopped sales incentives for branch staff after a number of selling scandals and U.S. bank Wells Fargo & Co ended the practice earlier this year.

Some analysts have said similar moves in Canada could ultimately hurt banks' profits.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO --  The TD bank logo is seen on top of the Toronto Dominion Canada Trust Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 16, 2017. Picture taken March 16, 2017.   REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo