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Scotiabank has embraced the urgency of adapting the bank to the realities of slowing revenue growth and new banking preferences among consumers.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Bank of Nova Scotia has embarked on a new wave of job cuts as it confronts slowing growth and shifting consumer demands.

A spokesperson said the cuts were related to a goal of simplifying the bank and moving resources away from traditional branch banking and investing in technology and innovation as consumers increasingly conduct transactions on computers and smartphones.

"As a result, we are growing capabilities in parts of the organization while reducing roles in others," the Scotiabank spokesperson said in an e-mail, adding that the cuts extend "across the bank." Scotiabank did not provide an indication of the number of jobs affected. "We are currently working through this with our employees, and out of respect to them we are unable to give you a sense of the specifics at this time as we engage them in the process. We will be working with affected employees to help them find other roles in the bank where possible."

Job cuts at the Big Six have been common over the past year as banks continue to respond to a period of economic and technology-driven uncertainty even as profits remain strong. Last year, TD Bank cut its payroll by nearly 1,600 jobs and reported $686-million in restructuring charges, the biggest such charge among Canadian banks over the past decade.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has roughly maintained its number of branches in Canada, but has opted for substantially smaller designs that operate with just one key manager at each location, down from two.

Under chief executive officer Brian Porter, Scotiabank has embraced a similar sense of urgency toward adapting the bank to the realities of slowing revenue growth and new banking preferences among consumers.

He has shaken up his executive ranks by appointing new heads of capital markets, wealth management, marketing, international banking and Canadian banking.

Within Canada, he has shed 21 branches from the bank's national footprint over the past two quarters and reduced its payrolls by 1,000 positions. The bank's total work force amounts to 89,297, with 27,143 employees in Canada.

At Scotiabank's shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Porter said he expects that by 2020, less than 10 per cent of financial transactions will occur within bank branches, while the share of financial products sold online will swell to more than 50 per cent.

"Our branch network will continue to be an important channel to serve customers, but it must adapt and evolve," he said.

He added that branches will be redesigned to become more effective and efficient.

"The Canadian branch network will feature smaller branches that are staffed differently," Mr. Porter said.

But the job cuts go well beyond branches. The bank is also addressing slowing loan growth amid weaker economic activity and embracing technology-driven efficiencies in areas such as back-office automation.

While banks have been cutting payrolls, though, they have also been pouring resources into technology and innovation as they respond to rising customer expectations driven by a looming threat posed by nimble financial technology startups.

Mr. Porter said Scotiabank's annual investment in technology has doubled in recent years to more than $2.4-billion as it beefs up its tech-savvy work force with jobs such as digital scientists, engineers and specialized programmers. The bank's payroll has expanded by 5,000 in Canada alone over the past five years.

"Moderate economic growth, volatility in markets and rapid technological developments are forcing change upon virtually every industry around the globe," Mr. Porter said at the shareholder meeting.

"Financial services are no exception. Scotiabank is responding to the need for change with a comprehensive strategic agenda."

The restructuring is also having an effect on the bank's capital markets activity. Scotia Capital, Scotiabank's brokerage arm, cut its head trader Sean Riley last week, according to sources. Sources also said that the bank cut Michael O'Rourke, a liability trader.

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SymbolName% changeLast
Bank of Nova Scotia
Bank of Nova Scotia
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Toronto Dominion Bank
Toronto-Dominion Bank

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