Canada's message to Wall Street: we've got jobs

Wed Oct 5, 2011 3:41pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - As European banks seek state help and U.S. lenders shore up shaky balance sheets, Canada's well-performing banks have stepped up their efforts to poach talent from rivals around the world.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote), Canada's No. 2 lender, has added 50 executives so far this year through acquisition and organic growth, while smaller rival Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote) has bragged about poaching several high-profile executives from international firms.

"Many global players are retrenching, so there are significant layoffs happening, said Janet Ecker, president of the lobby group Toronto Financial Service Alliance (TFSA), which was holding a "career fair" in New York on Wednesday.

"(Canadian banks) have used this opportunity to just become more global in expanding their business."

Ecker hopes to cajole Wall Street bankers to relocate to Canada's financial center of Toronto, which cracked the top ten of the Global Financial Centers Index for the first time this year. "It's starting to register with people that there are career opportunities here," she said.

Figures from the Canadian Bankers Association show that total global employment by Canadian banks hit a record of more than 360,000 in 2010, and quarterly data from Canada's big lenders suggest that figure has continued to rise this year even as banks lay off workers elsewhere in the world.

Several big international lenders have announced massive job cuts, including Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote) and HSBC (HSBA.L: Quote), which have each announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs.


<p>A man walks down the street from the King and Bay intersection in the financial district in Toronto, February 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>