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'If you want to speculate, don't call yourself a bank:' TD CEO

Toronto-Dominion CEO Ed Clark


Ed Clark is ruffling some feathers.

In a television interview with Bloomberg News that aired Monday, the chief executive officer of Toronto-Dominion Bank waded into the debate on speculative trading and tighter bank restrictions, and he made his opinions quite clear.

Referring to risky trading, he said: "I think we have to drive that activity out of the bank and say, "If you want to speculate, don't call yourself a bank, call yourself a hedge fund."

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He also made his position on Basel III unequivocal. "I'm a big advocate of Basel III. I think the industry should be saying, 'We want everyone to have lots of capital, adequate capital, and we want [the banks]to have lots of liquidity."

Bloomberg dubbed the segment "old-fashioned banking," and many of Mr. Clark's statements made reference to returning to the old way of doing things. The way he sees it, Basel III and the Volcker Rule are intended to get banks back to their traditional businesses, and "I think there are some of us that cheer that and think it's fundamentally right."

"Given, frankly, the privileged role that we play in society, and I think it is a privileged role," he added, "then we should not... be speculators."

And just in case all of that wasn't 100 per cent clear, for good measure he threw in: "We've taken shareholder value added to the extreme."

The television segment can be found here – but be warned, it makes Canadians seem... folksy, what with our love of hockey and our spelling of 'centre.'

Some of the quotes mentioned above did not air on television, and were taken from a transcript posted on Bloomberg.

As for some balance, keep in mind that in the fourth quarter of 2008, TD announced after-tax credit trading losses of $350-million.

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