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EQB customers weathering shock of high interest rates, CEO says

TORONTO — The head of EQB Inc. says customers are largely weathering the shock of high interest rates.
Bay Street in Canada's financial district is shown in Toronto on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO — The head of EQB Inc. says customers are largely weathering the shock of high interest rates.

About 80 per cent of EQ customers had already renewed their mortgage at a higher rate without a major uptick in delinquencies, chief executive officer Andrew Moor said in an interview on Friday. EQB typically offers mortgages with shorter terms compared with the larger banks. 

Canada's biggest banks still expect to see waves of mortgage renewals at much higher rates over the next few years as the five-year fixed interest rate and fixed-payment mortgages come up for renewal.

Toronto-based EQB, which runs online-based EQ Bank and bought Concentra Trust last year, reported revenue of $395 million and net income of $141 million in its extended fourth quarter that ended Oct. 31.

The bank's fourth quarter spanned four months, and its 2023 fiscal year ran 10 months, as it skipped the third quarter in a one-time move to align its fiscal year with its bigger banking peers.

The shift will allow a more direct comparison with other banks from now on. Before, EQB was sometimes grouped in with other financial services, Moor said.

"It probably gives better exposure with the investors who are interested in investing in banks."

The company said EQ Bank reached more than 400,000 customers by the end of October.

Moor said while he's pleased with the growth in customers, he still sees lots of potential to lure customers away from the big banks because it offers no fees and higher interest rates on accounts.

Adjusted earnings for the quarter worked out to $147 million, or $3.80 per diluted share.

The bank set aside $19.6 million in provisions for credit losses in the fourth quarter.

Moor said while some people are certainly struggling, it feels surprisingly comfortable with the health of the company's client base.

"Certainly so far, we're not seeing the kind dramatic shift that you might expect as people reset to the high interest rates," he said.

"A small segment, it's certainly affecting more, that's for sure."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:EQB)

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press