The Financial Post reports in its Wednesday edition that mortgage growth has shrunk to a 17-year low in Canada, increasing pressure on the country's big banks to find business elsewhere. A Bloomberg dispatch to the Post says that residential mortgage growth rose 3.1 per cent to $1.55-trillion in December from a year earlier, the slowest pace since May, 2001, and half the growth rate from two years ago, according to the Bank of Canada. "The bread-and-butter of profitability for Canadian banks is going to have a little less butter on the bread," said Craig Fehr, investment strategist at Edward Jones & Co., whose firm oversees $30.8-billion in Canada. "That is, in many cases, the largest and most profitable and steady of the businesses that these banks operate." Investors will need to "recalibrate" their expectations in what is arguably one of the most important trends in the industry in years, Mr. Fehr told Bloomberg. "The banks that will do best are the ones that do have other levers to pull." David Baskin at Baskin Wealth Management said he would rather banks focus on wealth management. "I'm not looking for the banks to grow their mortgage business," he said. "I don't think that's where the juice is."
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