Getting caught up on a week that got away? Here’s your weekly digest of the Globe’s most essential business and investing stories, with insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and more.
Banks are blocking high-interest cash funds
Several of Canada’s largest banks have blocked their financial advisers from offering clients high-interest-savings ETFs, also known as cash ETFs or HISA ETFs, during a time where investors are seeking safer investments. Instead, as Clare O’Hara writes, banks are prompting their advisers to offer the banks’ own proprietary savings accounts directly to clients, a move that regulators may examine in a continuing review of industry sales practices. DIY investors who use discount brokerage trading platforms at Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank are also blocked from purchasing HISA ETFs. However, a compliance sweep is already underway. Regulators are looking for any potential conflicts of interest within investment dealers, such as those associated with proprietary products and related restrictions of firms’ product offerings.
Bell, let’s talk about damage control
Bell Canada’s parent company, BCE Inc., was already taking a beating before the company dismissed Canada’s favourite news anchor, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme, and set fire to its public image, Andrew Willis writes. Back in March, a study showed that Bell’s trademark value ranked 10th in the country, four slots lower than it had the previous year. At $8-billion, the Bell brand was worth less than half that of market leader RBC, and about $200-million less than that of rival Telus Corp. Now with public uproar over the ousting of Ms. LaFlamme, who had been at the network for 35 years, restoring Bell’s brand – for investors and TV news junkies – will mean articulating company plans for a digital age.
Inflation? We don’t know her
After more than two years, Canadian spending on services, such as restaurants, travel, pet groomers and hairdressers, soared 16.3 per cent on an annualized basis in the second quarter, finally elevating the sector above its prepandemic level. In fact, the contribution of services to GDP helped buffer the drop in residential investment and, as Jason Kirby examines in this week’s Decoder, outlays are now much closer to consumer spending on goods. The question is whether the surge can keep going in the face of higher interest rates, rising consumer prices, falling real wages and the psychological effect of lower house prices.
Ready or not, it’s back to the office we go
Remember when office workers thought the pandemic had permanently shifted how we work, and that many of us would work remotely – forever? Now, tensions are rising as employers begin mandating a return to office for a minimum number of days a week. As Vanmala Subramaniam, Patrick Egwu and Clare O’Hara write, since many people aren’t voluntarily returning to the office, some employers are making it compulsory. It’s marking a shift in an employer-employee balance of power that has been skewed toward employees for much of the pandemic. Experts who’ve observed how employers have navigated the past two-and-a-half years, however, are divided on exactly why a growing number of companies are getting more insistent about returning to the office. And many employees aren’t reacting well to being forced back into the office, whether the return is for reasons to do with company culture or filling rented office space.
Lagging economic growth won’t stop the Bank of Canada
Canada’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.3 per cent in the second quarter, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday, which wasn’t as strong as expected and appears to have decelerated in July. Still, softening growth is unlikely to deter the Bank of Canada from another oversized interest rate hike when it makes its monetary policy decision on Sept. 7, Mark Rendell writes. Preliminary estimates for July show GDP declined by 0.1 per cent that month, and third-quarter growth is on track to undershoot the central bank’s estimate of 2 per cent. This could mark a turning point for the Canadian economy after a period of heightened economic activity, and signals that rising interest rates are cooling the economy sooner than many forecasters anticipated.
Shhh! Consider these alternatives to quiet quitting
Quiet quitting is the latest workplace trend that’s gaining momentum, especially among Gen Z employees. It’s not about actually quitting your job, but doing the bare minimum required, while remaining fully employed. The idea is to stop going above and beyond employer expectations, and focus on finding a work-life balance – with a strong emphasis on life outside the office. But before you opt out of doing your best work in favour of mindlessly scrolling TikTok, where the suggestion of quiet quitting began, Naomi Titleman Colla suggests trying these work alternatives instead.
Now that you’re all caught up, prepare for the week ahead with the Globe’s investing calendar.
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