Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney’s much-talked-about clash with the head of JPMorgan wasn’t a bad thing for the banking industry, one executive believes. In fact, there is a pressing need for bankers and governments to have more such frank discussions.
Given the severity of issues facing the banking world – including the debt crisis in Europe and debates over new global industry rules – bankers and regulators can’t be reluctant to speak their minds, said Larry Klane, chief executive officer of Korea Exchange Bank.
“It’s valuable for regulators to hear that,” Mr. Klane said, referring to Jamie Dimon’s criticism of an international plan that would require a few dozen of the world’s biggest banks to hold extra capital.
The confrontation between Mr. Carney and Mr. Dimon at closed-door meetings last Friday made headlines around the world after reports surfaced that the JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive officer had attacked Mr. Carney over the plan.
Mr. Klane, speaking in Toronto on Wednesday after attending International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington, said: “It’s very difficult to speak aggressively to a regulator, because they regulate you and have unbelievable powers. And so there is a great bias in the system.
“But ultimate solutions are better designed with all of the ideas and points of view on the table. That doesn’t mean that regulators need to agree, but if they’re not hearing [all of the issues] then I think that they’re missing something.”
However, he suggested Mr. Dimon’s attack on the new rules comes too late, since regulators around the world are moving ahead with a capital surcharge on banks deemed ‘too big to fail.’ Mr. Klane also said European governments must make tough, unpalatable decisions on the debt crisis, and that a default in Greece may be necessary. “A default in Greece is not the end of the world,” he said.
His comments came amid meetings in Canada to discuss the expansion of Korea Exchange Bank’s business. The bank, which has been in Canada for 30 years, wants to widen its customer base and open more branches.
The South Korean bank is one of two prominent Asian banks to indicate this week an intention to expand here, hoping to capitalize on Canada’s increasing ties with the region. China Construction Bank Corp. plans to seek permission to open its first Canadian branch, in Toronto, according to a filing with the Canada Gazette, which lists regulatory applications in Ottawa.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of the world’s largest banks by market value, gained a toehold in the Canadian market last year, buying six branches formerly owned by Bank of East Asia. Like the other banks, ICBC wants to court newcomers from China and businesses with interests in both China and Canada, two areas in which Canada’s major banks have been eager to grow.
Korea Exchange Bank has eight branches, including locations in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Its activities in Canada are centred mostly around foreign exchange and trade-finance involving South Korean companies. The bank wants to expand its financing for Canadian companies with trade in Asia.
“The first order of business is to deepen our customer engagement beyond just a Canadian-Korean focus here,” Mr. Klane said. “We also may very well expand our physical footprint. We’re only physically scratching the surface of it.” However he added it would be a modest expansion of branches in Canada.