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Atlantic Canada Leading National Growth in Small Business Lending: CBA President

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/15/12 -- In a keynote luncheon speech today, the president of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), Terry Campbell, spoke to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce about the banking industry's commitment to help individuals, businesses and communities throughout Atlantic Canada succeed and prosper.

"Our banks have been here a long time and that commitment to this city and communities large and small in Nova Scotia and throughout Atlantic Canada is just as strong today," said Mr. Campbell in his prepared remarks.

Banks provide businesses of all sizes with the advice and financing to help them grow, and this is particularly true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For SMEs, bank lending in Atlantic Canada has increased here more than the rest of the country.

"In Atlantic Canada, there are almost 75,000 SME bank clients and the number of authorized loans has increased about 20 per cent in the past five years to $5.5 billion as the small business sector expands. Nationally, the increase in SME lending is just over 12 per cent," Mr. Campbell pointed out. "This tells me that SMEs are very important customer to banks, especially in this part of Canada."

Mr. Campbell also highlighted five distinguishing features that demonstrate Canada's banks' commitment to their customers and communities:

Financial literacy: Banks support local and national organizations and programs that provide financial literacy for youth, First Nations, newcomers to Canada and seniors. Individual bankers are also active in the CBA's financial literacy program, Your Money, and volunteer their time to lead a free financial literacy seminar that teach high schools students about the basics of money management. To date, almost 17,000 students in Atlantic Canada have attended a Your Money seminar.

Banks as employers: Canada's banks are good employers; they aim to be "employers of choice" and strive to have a workforce that reflects the diverse customer base that they serve. Banks as employers offer a range of programs for new Canadians including internal mentoring programs and support groups, language and skills training, internships programs and online recruitment tools. Banks also have an important educational role to play with customers new to Canada; some who may have come from countries with very different financial systems.

Canada's banks represent 3.4 per cent of the country's GDP and employ 274,000, including 12,500 jobs in Atlantic Canada. Mr. Campbell pointed out that "these are good, steady, clean and green jobs that include considerable skills development and training."

Competition in the Canadian banking sector: While many people tend to think of the "Big Six" banks, the Canadian banking market is much more complex with 24 domestic banks, 25 foreign bank subsidiaries, 24 full-service foreign bank branches and five foreign bank lending branches.

"If you think of banks as a national consumer business in Canada - like large chains of grocery stores, pharmacies, books, hardware, or department stores - I think you would agree that bank customers enjoy a very wide range of nation-wide choice and competition," said Mr. Campbell. "That competitive dynamic will only continue to intensify - and evolve - as the emphasis on internet banking, mobile payment systems and electronic wallets increases."

New innovations in banking: Over the past 16 years, Canada's banks have invested almost $70 billion on the technology that ensures our banking system is secure and state-of-the-art. The internet is now the principal means of banking with about 47 per cent of the population (58 per cent in Atlantic Canada), up from only eight per cent in 2000. Mobile banking is also growing and mobile payment, where consumers can use their smartphone to make purchases, is the newest innovation that will be available in the near future.

Helping companies build export and foreign market capabilities: Many Canadian banks already have established international networks and partnerships, representing considerable expertise and local knowledge that Canadian exporters can call upon as they enter - or even consider entering - overseas markets.

The president of the CBA left the audience with these parting words: "As our country continues to grow - through immigration, through trade, through domestic development and innovation, through competition - banks will be there to help individuals, families and companies adapt and excel."

The full text of Mr. Campbell's speech can be found on the CBA's website at the following link:

About the Canadian Bankers Association

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 54 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 274,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness.

Follow the CBA on Twitter: @CdnBankers

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