Thanks to a buildup in their capital buffers, credit ratings at a couple of the big Canadian banks have been upgraded by Fitch Ratings — with more to follow.
Following an industry review, the rating agency affirmed its long-term issuer default ratings on the Big Six banks and Desjardins Group.
Fitch also upgraded its ratings for certain senior debt instruments at Bank of Montreal (BMO) and National Bank of Canada (NBC), citing the banks’ efforts to build up their capital buffers, including total loss absorbing capital (TLAC) and other junior debt.
The upgrades include the banks’ long-term deposit ratings, derivative counterparty ratings and legacy “senior preferred” debt ratings.
Fitch said that similar upgrades are likely at the other big banks as they also build up their buffers.
The industry’s rating outlook is stable, as headline risks have eased.
Fitch said that the prospect of a systemic risk, such as a housing market crash, has moderated amid policymakers’ efforts to curb that threat.
At the same time, the risk of escalating trade tensions with the U.S. has also diminished, due to progress toward ratifying the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement.
Ratings pressure could develop if these risks re-emerge, particularly if the housing market takes off once again, Fitch noted.
Additionally, a negative surprise — such as a “material” cyberattack, major industry misconduct, or evidence of risk management failings — “could prompt negative rating action,” Fitch said.