Wealth Management is expected to benefit from improved investor sentiment, which reflects increased optimism about the economic outlook. Stronger economic growth in Canada, the United States and overseas should translate into higher corporate profits in the coming year. At the same time, improved economic growth and expectations of central bank rate hikes may push bond yields higher over the course of the next 12 months. However, central banks are expected to be slow to tighten monetary policy. Nevertheless, by late 2004 the Bank of Canada will be back in tightening mode, gradually raising the return investors receive on cash. This economic and financial backdrop is likely to translate into increased activity in all areas of Wealth Management.
Wealth Management may also benefit from increased inflows stemming from the need of some defined benefit pension plans to increase their asset base. The use of more conservative assumptions about future rates of returns by institutional investors, including pension funds, could translate into increased demand for Wealth Management services. See page 32 for discussion of factors that may affect future results.