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Scotiabank rebuilds economics team to make policy splash

A Scotiabank location in downtown Toronto is seen in this file photo.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Bank of Nova Scotia is adding another new face to its economics team, injecting new blood that should help the institution have a bigger impact on policy matters.

Brett House is joining the bank as deputy chief economist, starting Nov. 1. He previously held the role of chief economist at Alignvest Investment Management, an alternative asset manager based in Toronto with some big names behind it. The firm is run by Reza Satchu and Timothy Hodgson, and Don Raymond, formerly Canada Pension Plan Investment Board's chief investment officer, now has the same role at Alignvest.

The move follows Scotiabank's hiring of Jean-Francois Perrault as chief economist last December, replacing then-retiring chief economist Warren Jestin.

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Both Mr. House and Mr. Perrault have similar backgrounds, in that they come from outside the traditional bank economist bubble. Before joining Scotiabank, Mr. Perrault worked in senior roles at the Bank of Canada, the International Monetary Fund and had also been a senior economist in the World Bank's economic policy and debt unit.

As for Mr. House, a former Rhodes Scholar, he has been principal adviser on economic and financial issues in the Executive Office of the United Nations' Secretary-General and also served as an economist at the IMF.

This approach is no coincidence. Since Brian Porter took over as the bank's chief executive officer in November, 2013, he has sought to transform many areas of the bank -- both to reshape them for an evolving banking landscape and to also add heft where necessary.

A bank's economics team is one of the few areas that garners a lot of public attention, because the media often picks up their reports, which is why names such as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's Benjamin Tal and Bank of Montreal's Doug Porter are so commonly seen in the press.

But some CEOs also view their economics team as something more -- a highly influential group that can weigh in on public policy matters. Toronto-Dominion Bank's work under former chief economist Don Drummond is the oft-cited example, and that approach was steered by former CEO Ed Clark.

Lately Royal Bank of Canada has adopted the strategy. In January, 2015 the bank hired former Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse into the Office of the CEO, and the bank's economics team now reports to him. Although it's never been publicly declared, this approach was partly inspired to make RBC a go-to bank on policy issues, as well as topics that matter to Canadians, such as diversity.

Mr. Porter's moves at Scotiabank echo this approach.

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Concurrent with the new hire, Scotiabank announced that Aron Gampel, currently an economist who covers Canada and the United States, is retiring after more than three decades with the bank.

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About the Author
Reporter and Streetwise columnist

Tim Kiladze is a business reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before crossing over to journalism, he worked in equity capital markets at National Bank Financial and in fixed-income sales and trading at RBC Dominion Securities. Tim graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and also earned a Bachelor in Commerce in finance from McGill University. More

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