Toronto’s Financial District is an untapped opportunity for the financial industry as Canada’s Big Five banks are gearing up to make Toronto the centre of fintech.
Whether you work on Wall Street or elsewhere, you may want to consider a move to Bay Street, the center of Toronto’s Financial District.
Why? Here are the top reasons that industry insiders gave to move to Canada’s biggest city.
There are plenty of banking jobs in Toronto
Canada’s Big Five banks are having a strong start to the year in mergers-and-acquisitions advisory for the most part, and all have their operational headquarters in Toronto. BMO Capital Markets and RBC Capital Markets are first and second, respectively, in Dealogic’s 2018 year-to-date Canada M&A rankings, while TD Securities is sixth, Scotiabank is tenth and CIBC is 21st.
“The big five banks are all hiring – especially in IT, we can’t keep up, and investment banking hiring is picking up too, as well as institutional sales and trading,” says Brett Evans, director of capital markets at Bay Street Staffing Group, a Toronto-based recruitment firm. “All of the banks are making fintech campuses and going crazy there.
“We’re working with some American firms that are here as well and actively ramping up their headcount here in Toronto,” he says.
It’s easier to master the Bay Street ecosystem
Comparing Bay Street to Wall Street, financial services job functions, roles and responsibilities are structured very similarly, but there are many more players in the U.S. and at a market level it’s more competitive on Wall Street.
That’s according to Vuk Magdelinic, the CEO and co-founder of Overbond, a Toronto-based fintech firm that digitizes bond origination and issuance, who formerly worked at Deutsche Bank, BNY Mellon, CIBC, PwC and Deloitte. His Big Four experience was in New York.
“From a front-office, capital markets perspective, for me, what was interesting or surprising coming to New York from Toronto is how things at first seem similar, at least not hugely different on an individual level,” Magdelinic says. “In Toronto, there are a few vendor systems and platform to consider, while in the U.S. there might be 10 or more competing for your mindshare.
“There’s more variety, more options and larger complexity on Wall Street,” he says. “Because it’s more competitive and there are more options to consider, the pressure to innovate quicker is more pronounced on Wall Street, because the players have to preserve their edge.
“It’s more fragmented [than Toronto], as more competitors are battling for market share.”
Your compensation goes farther in Toronto
While your compensation working on Bay Street is unlikely to be as high as it would be on Wall Street for a similar position, the flip side of that coin is that the cost of living is less expensive in Toronto. In particular, it’s much easier to afford real estate that is in or near the city center.
“Toronto is a good city – homes are relatively less expensive compared to New York,” Evans says. “The cost of living advantage is significant – in New York, they’d have to make incrementally more to have the same standard of living.
“A lot of people come in from the suburbs but there’s been a huge re-gentrification of the downtown core, with tons of condo development,” he says. “That’s a huge factor when we speak to people.
“I think people have a better standard of living here than they would in New York, particularly real estate, as bigger homes with bigger lots are less expensive.”
It’s easier to get a table at a trendy restaurant where everybody knows your name
The greater Toronto area has around 6.5m people, while the New York metropolitan area has more than 20m.
“Toronto is a very accessible city, and it’s less transient than New York,” Magdelinic says. “A lot of professionals who live in New York for a period of time, they’re coming to New York to work, but are not from there, they’re commuting in or they’re only there for a short period of time.
“Toronto is definitely less transient, steadier and more accessible,” he says. “If you want to go to a good restaurant, you don’t have to book it a month or two in advance, maybe a week or a day, not that they’re half-empty, just that it’s easier to book things and get around.”
Canadians are nice people
Generally, Canadians tend to live up to their reputation for being very nice, although there could be a higher percentage of people who break the mold among those in the financial services industry. Still, if you’re looking for affable colleagues, rather than cutthroat rivals, then you’d probably take your chances in Toronto over most other financial centers.