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Industry experts applaud Shopify's shift to remote working – CBC.ca

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Business leaders in Ottawa are praising Shopify for the company’s decision to move to a permanent work-from-home model

On Thursday, the company announced it will keep its offices closed until 2021, and said most of its more than 5,000 employees will continue working remotely after that.

“There are a lot of emotions,” Shopify’s chief talent officer Brittany Forsyth told CBC. “There is a sense of loss going on … while also a sense of optimism toward the future.”

Invest Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay believes tech companies should have made the move long ago. 

“We’ve had the tech forever to do it. This has purely been a cultural decision to hang out in buildings,” he said.

Tremblay said the trend toward remote work arrangements will have a positive effect on the industry, and on the city as a whole.

“This is just going to help us to build, scale and grow without having to put up a whole bunch of buildings,” he said. “I think a [roadblock] for our region has been our commercial real estates availability. It’s been a blocker.”

Tremblay believes more companies will follow Shopify’s lead, and said the pandemic has prepared many employees to make the transition to working from home. He also believes the local tech industry could become involved in developing work-from-home solutions to make that transition go smoothly.

Michael Tremblay, president and CEO of Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards, said more companies should follow Shopify’s lead. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Reimagining workspaces

Shopify, which employs more than 1,000 people in Ottawa, moved into its large, modern office space on Elgin Street just over five years ago.

On Friday, Forsyth told CBC’s Ottawa Morning the company will continue to have offices and continue to invest in its host cities, but will be reimagining those workspaces.

While the move does open the door to hiring more globally, she said the company will grow its Canadian presence at the same time.

Shopify is going all in on work from home. But what’s that mean for local employees and the city’s tech sector? We ask Shopify’s chief talent officer, 8:46

Tyler Chamberlain, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, said the trend also creates an opportunity to reinvest in the city’s downtown core.

“There’s also the potential then to repurpose some of these buildings toward something like residential housing,” he said.

With fewer people needing to live near their work, Chamberlain believes it’s also an opportunity for the smaller municipalities surrounding the city.

“I think of it as a great opportunity, potentially, for small towns to be able to attract people for a potentially lower cost of living, and arguably a higher quality of life,” he said.

While there’s some concern over what this will mean for small businesses such as coffee shops that rely on central employment hubs, Forsyth said she’s confident Shopify employees will begin supporting businesses nearer their home offices, creating the potential for new growth in other areas.

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Scotiabank profit plunges 40% as bad loans more than double amid COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Scotiabank posted a profit Tuesday morning of $1.32 billion in the three months up to the end of April, a fall of more than 40 per cent from last year’s level as the bank set aside twice as much money for bad loans.

The bank’s provisions for credit losses totalled nearly $1.85 billion for the quarter. That’s up 111 per cent from the $873 million worth of bad loans the bank revealed in the same three months last year, well before the COVID-19 pandemic crushed the economy.

Higher loan loss provisions don’t necessarily mean that all of those loans will end up defaulting. Rather, it just means that they aren’t being actively being paid back as planned.

The bank revealed on Tuesday that 300,000 of its Canadian customers have applied for some sort of financial relief on the $60 billion they collectively owe to the bank. That would include mortgagees who asked for interest rate deferrals.

Scotiabank has a huge presence in Latin America, and the bank says it has processed two million applications for loan relief from its international customers.

Economic bellwether

Not all of those loans will necessarily end up defaulting, but some may. So the uptick in loan loss provisions is troubling.

Scotia is the first of Canada’s big banks to reveal its financial performance through the current pandemic, numbers which will be closely scrutinized as they are considered to be a bellwether for the broader economy. That’s because pain at other businesses tends to show up on the books of the banks that lend to them.

Canada’s other big banks — Royal, Toronto-Dominion, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bank of Montreal — will report earnings in the next few days.

On an adjusted basis, Scotiabank’s profit for the quarter came in at $1.04 per diluted share. That’s well down from $1.70 per diluted share a year ago, but ahead of the 98 cents that analysts who cover the bank were expecting.

Not all bad news

But not all parts of the bank’s business saw tough times. Indeed, some did even better than usual.

Scotia’s global wealth management business posted a profit of $314 million, an increase of four per cent over last year’s level. That uptick came about with investors around the world becoming much more active than usual as global stock markets plummeted.

“This quarter saw record results for both new client account openings and trading volumes in Scotia iTRADE,” the bank said.

Similarly, the global banking and markets business posted a profit of $523 million, up 25 per cent from a year earlier.

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Scotiabank's loan-loss provisions double on coronavirus risks – The Globe and Mail

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A Bank of Nova Scotia building stands in Toronto on Aug. 22, 2017.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Bank of Nova Scotia on Tuesday reported quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates due to a strong performance in the capital markets business, but the bank’s loan loss provisions jumped two-fold.

Provisions for loan losses at Scotia more than doubled to $1.85 billion from a year earlier as it set aside more money to meet future losses.

Canadian banks are expected to face loan defaults as the coronavirus pandemic drives the world into a recession, leaving small and medium-sized businesses scrambling to meet their debt payments.

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The bank said commercial and corporate performing loan provisions increased by $275 million, hurt by the poor macroeconomic outlook and a plunge in oil prices that impacted the energy sector globally.

Adjusted net income at its global wealth management segment rose 3 per cent to $314 million, while profit at the global banking and markets business jumped 25 per cent to $523 million.

Canada’s third-biggest lender said net income fell to $1.24 billion, or $1 per share, in the quarter ended April 30, from $2.13 billion, or $1.73 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the lender earned $1.04 per share, compared with analysts’ estimate for profit of $0.98 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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Asian stocks rise, boosted by 're-opening optimism' – CNN

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Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) was among the biggest winners in Asia, climbing 2.6% after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the state of emergency for the entire nation and gave his support for a huge new stimulus package. Benchmark indexes in Shanghai (SHCOMP) and Taipei added 1%, while Australia’s ASX All Ordinaries added 2.8%
In Europe, Germany’s DAX (DAX) increased by 0.8% in early trading and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) added 1.3%. The FTSE 100 (UKX) gained more than 2% in London. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced plans to reopen all shops by the middle of June.
US stock futures also rose after Americans crowded onto packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana for the Memorial Day weekend. Many states have begun lifting restrictions on businesses and public spaces.
Dow futures were up 490 points, or around 2%. Futures for the S&P and Nasdaq added 1.9%.
There is a sense of “re-opening optimism” among investors, Stephen Innes, global market strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a research note.
Oil prices, which have been slammed by the sharp drop in demand caused by the pandemic, jumped during Asian trading hours Tuesday. US crude futures were up 3.7% to trade at $34.46 per barrel. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, rose 2.3% to $36.36 per barrel.

Hong Kong stocks

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) advanced more than 2%, recovering some ground after investors were stunned by news last week that Beijing plans to implement a controversial national security law in the financial hub.
The Hang Seng had its worst day in nearly five years on Friday after Beijing said that it would effectively bypass Hong Kong’s legislature to enact the law.
China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, Xie Fang, moved to reassure rattled investors on Monday evening.
The legislation won’t affect freedoms of speech, press, publication and assembly, Xie said, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. Xie added that the controversial legislation will protect the operations of international businesses in Hong Kong.
The “clouds of dust in Hong Kong have settled quicker than anyone had expected. Local risk sentiment isn’t nearly as gnarly as everyone had feared,” said Innes.
Still, the move by Beijing is expected to fuel another round of clashes between pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and the city’s police force.
— CNN’s Laura He and Kaori Enjoji contributed to this report.

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