Toronto-Dominion Bank TD-T has hired four technology bankers from the Canadian arm of the failed Silicon Valley Bank in an effort to catch up to Canada’s other large lenders, which have in recent years expanded the services they offer to technology companies.
The country’s banks have been circling SVB Canada, hunting for talent as it struggles to find a buyer. The recruits are SVB Canada executives Shez Samji, Michelle Sabourin, Tom Lowden and Mark Kiyonaga, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The Globe and Mail is not naming the sources because they are not permitted to discuss the hires publicly.
Mr. Samji is SVB Canada’s head of business development, Ms. Sabourin is its vice-president of credit solutions, Mr. Lowden is its vice-president of technology banking and Mr. Kiyonaga is its director of credit solutions, according to LinkedIn. None of the four immediately responded to requests for comment.
Silicon Valley Bank, a California-based technology financier, collapsed in March, causing widespread concern in financial markets and dealing a blow to the tech sector, which had already seen a drop in valuations. Parts of SVB’s U.S. operations were later taken over by First Citizens BancShares Inc., but SVB Canada was left out of that transaction.
TD would not confirm the details of the hires, but Barbara Hooper, the head of its Canadian business banking group, said in a statement Thursday that TD is adding to its team in order to expand beyond its focus on later-stage technology companies and build up its ability to serve technology startups.
“Increasing our investment in this important sector better positions us to meet the unique needs of technology entrepreneurs – from ideation to IPO and beyond, while at the same time accelerating our growth by expanding specialization where we see opportunity,” Ms. Hooper said.
TD is the only large lender in Canada without a stand-alone startup lending division. The five other big banks have dedicated groups that offer lending products to technology startups, which typically don’t generate profits or have the types of assets traditional lenders require as collateral.
Instead, TD offers technology companies products and services through its business banking division, which targets small- and medium-sized commercial clients.
During an investor presentation in June, TD told shareholders that its strategy for growing its business banking unit includes expanding into underpenetrated markets and deepening its relationships with customers of its auto finance division. In the medium term, the bank also set its sights on increasing its business loans by 35 per cent and deposits in the unit by 25 per cent.
Many of Canada’s banks are looking to poach talent from SVB. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said last week that it had hired two directors from SVB’s American operation: New York-based Ben Shephard and San Francisco-based Sean Thompson. Both joined CIBC’s innovation arm, which is Canada’s largest provider of specialized financing for early-stage technology companies.
The Globe and Mail reported last week that at least two other large Canadian banks were in active talks to hire several employees from SVB Canada.
The country’s banks are grappling with shrinking profits, as expenses spike and loan demand dampens. Royal Bank of Canada recently signalled that it had hired more employees than it needed last year, while Bank of Montreal cut more than 100 jobs in its capital markets division.
Banks outside Canada have also been scouring SVB for parts to bolster their technology-lending businesses. HSBC scooped up SVB’s British division and rebranded it as HSBC Innovation Banking. U.S. investment bank Stifel Bank & Trust and Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group both hired SVB staff members in the spring to expand their startup-focused practices.
SVB Canada does not have a licence to take deposits, and had just $301.3-million in outstanding loans as of April 11. PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. is overseeing the unit’s restructuring, and had aimed to settle and execute a binding agreement with the successful bidder on July 7, but that date was moved to July 10. The restructuring process is continuing.