TD bank. stock photo
iStock/Roman Tiraspolsky

TD Bank Group said it’s cutting 3% of staff and setting more money aside for souring loans as it reported fourth-quarter results that reflect a deteriorating economic picture.

The bank said Thursday that the cuts, which amount to around 3,100 employees based on its third-quarter employee total, will contribute to a $363-million restructuring charge this quarter, and a similar cost in the first half of next year.

“This is a part of a broader restructuring program to streamline and deliver efficiencies for the bank and then help create capacity to invest in future growth,” said chief financial officer Kelvin Tran in an interview.

Restructuring is expected to save $400 million pre-tax for its 2024 fiscal year, and $600 million a year after that, the bank said.

TD’s cuts are a similar amount to what Scotiabank announced during the quarter, and what RBC guided in its third quarter results.

Tran said TD has already made some cuts and will continue to do so throughout next year, while it will also achieve some of the reductions through attrition and will work to redeploy staff where possible.

Along with severance and other personnel-related costs, the charges also cover it pulling back on its real estate footprint and asset impairments.

The charges, combined with increased provisions for bad loans, put pressure on earnings that worked out to $2.89 billion or $1.49 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from a profit of $6.67 billion or $3.62 per diluted share a year earlier.

TD chief financial officer Kelvin Tran said it was a mixed quarter in a “challenging environment,” as the bank also warned that it will be hard to meet its medium-term targets around earnings growth and return on equity.

“What we see for the following year, in 2024, is actually a quite complex environment, including continued normalizing of [provisions for credit loss],” said Tran.

“That’s why we think it’s gonna be challenging to meet that those targets.”

The bank set aside $878 million in the quarter for bad loans, up $261 million from last year, and a little higher than what analysts were expecting.

The rise in provisions come as concerns increase on the potential for an economic slowdown or recession, and the strain on borrowers as waves of mortgage renewals are coming in the next few years at what could be much higher interest rates.

The bank remains confident in its portfolio, said Tran.

“For sure the higher rates are putting pressure on the consumer, but we feel that we are very well prepared for that.”

Quarterly results also included $197 million in costs related to its acquisition of Cowen Inc.

On an adjusted basis, TD says it earned $1.83 per diluted share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.18 per diluted share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to estimates compiled by financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Results were further off the $1.92 that Scotia Capital Inc. had expected, said analyst Meny Grauman.

“The miss to our numbers was primarily driven by lower-than-expected total revenues [reflecting lower non-interest revenues], and higher credit losses and expenses, partially offset by lower-than-forecasted taxes.”

The bank also raised its dividend as it said it would now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.02 per share, up from 96 cents.

TD said its Canadian personal and commercial banking segment earned $1.68 billion in its latest quarter, down from $1.69 billion in the same quarter last year, as higher provisions for credit losses and non-interest expenses were partially offset by revenue growth.

In the U.S., TD’s retail business earned $1.28 billion in the most recent quarter, down from $1.54 billion a year earlier.

TD’s wealth management and insurance business earned $501 million, down from $516 million a year ago, primarily reflecting higher insurance claims and related expenses, offset by higher revenues, a release said.

The bank’s wholesale banking operations earned $17 million, down from $261 million in the same quarter last year.