Skip to main content

Streetwise Toronto fast becoming hub for financial services, report says

Bank towers are photographed in Toronto’s Bay Street financial district on May 11, 2017.

Gary Hershorn/The Globe and Mail

Toronto is steadily growing as a hub for financial services, piling on a larger proportion of the country's jobs at banks, insurers, asset managers and other firms.

The city's metro area makes up a third of all financial-sector employment in Canada, securing its status as a vital engine for growth, according to a Conference Board of Canada report released on Thursday.

Financial-services jobs now account for 8.5 per cent of all employment in the Toronto area, after growing at an average of 2.3 per cent a year for the past decade – well ahead of the 1.5-per-cent annual average across all other sectors.

Story continues below advertisement

With Toronto as the core, Canada's financial-services industry has grown at a healthy rate over the past 10 years, while firms extended their reach in other countries. But the sector's continued growth can't be taken for granted.

Major U.S. banking hubs such as New York and Chicago have seen their ranks of financial-services professionals shrink in that same span.

And while financial technology startups have added jobs in the short term, they are also helping drive advances in artificial intelligence and automation that could make many existing roles obsolete.

"I think there's that tension there, certainly," said Jennifer Reynolds, chief executive officer of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, which sponsored the Conference Board report. "But I think having a healthy fintech ecosystem here is important. … Innovation, no doubt, is the challenge in the financial sector, and making sure we're staying ahead."

With 808,100 jobs, financial services accounted for 4.5 per cent of all Canadian employment in 2016, and made up 7.2 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), rising from 6.8 per cent two years ago.

Toronto directly employed 272,280 people in financial services in 2016, from tellers to insurance agents – more than half of them in banking and one fifth in insurance. But the sector also supports another 115,224 jobs indirectly in the city, mostly in consulting, legal, accounting and computer services professions.

Over all, Canada is a net exporter of financial services: Total exports more than doubled over the past decade, reaching nearly $13-billion in 2016. More than half of that is to the United States, but the trade balance could shift due to uncertainty over negotiations to redraw the North American free-trade agreement, and as U.S. leaders adopt a protectionist stand.

Story continues below advertisement

Even so, Ms. Reynolds pointed to Canada's political and economic stability as well as its diversity as reasons Canada should continue to attract financial services talent. "Now is the time to go out and sell what a strength this is for Canada, and for our economy," she said.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter