Scotiabank Comments on Department of Finance Consultation Paper. A proposal for stable, alternative indirect financing

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1 Scotiabank Comments on Department of Finance Consultation Paper A proposal for stable, alternative indirect financing May 8, 2009

2 Introduction Scotiabank appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Department of Finance consultation paper on automotive leasing. As a significant participant in the automotive finance marketplace, we were encouraged by the announcements in the 2009 federal budget to address access to capital in the auto sector. We expressed an interest in and provided comments to the federal government on the Canadian Secured Credit Facility, which is aimed at supporting the automotive finance market. In our comments on the facility, we stated that a sustained and competitive finance market is best accomplished through broad participation and competition from a variety of suppliers of financing. We strongly believe that this approach holds true for lease financing as well. The auto lease market has failed to serve automotive dealers and consumers through this crisis. It is critical to quickly improve the availability of lease financing, and the credit facility will assist in this regard. It is equally critical that lease financing be provided on a stable and sustainable basis. In this submission, we propose a complementary role for banks in the lease market by indirectly providing open-end leases through automotive dealers. We propose being limited to open-end leases to limit the prudential risk and to provide a stable alternative for consumers. This role, combined with Scotiabank s conservative risk management and our strong focus on expense control, will make us an effective alternative supplier of lease financing. In the comments below, we describe our experience and expertise in the field of auto leasing; our long-term commitment to, and relationship with, auto dealers and the financing options they offer their customers; our views on the future of auto lease financing in Canada; our specific recommendations with respect to changes to Bank Act restrictions, and our thoughts on the four questions posed in the consultation paper. We recommend that existing statutory barriers to auto leasing in Canada be removed. This would allow Scotiabank to offer an open-end lease product that would broaden access to auto financing in Canada for both auto dealers and consumers alike. Scotiabank s expertise in lease financing Scotiabank is a leading player in the area of automotive finance encompassing consumer finance through auto dealers as well as significant commercial banking relationships with dealers, parts makers, and other elements of the industry. We have dedicated automotive finance expertise and we work closely with auto sector clients during difficult economic times, including the current crisis facing the sector, by providing a stable source of financing. For example, following Chrysler Corporation s restructuring announcement on April 30, Scotiabank offered Chrysler dealer clients an immediate 90-day deferral for principal payments to give those dealers some additional flexibility. 2

3 In addition, Scotiabank is an experienced provider of lease financing products in Canada. 1) Scotiabank dealer value lease plan (DVLP): In cooperation with automotive dealers across the country, Scotiabank currently offers the Dealer Value Lease Plan (DVLP). This product was launched in Scotiabank provides the financing to the automotive dealer to lease vehicles to customers and manages the leases on the dealer's behalf. The dealer originates the lease customer, signs the lease and maintains ownership of the vehicle. 2) Equipment leasing over 21 tons: Scotiabank is a major player in the market for equipment leasing over 21 tons. We provide leasing for virtually all kinds of equipment to our Canadian business customers, from locomotives and computer equipment to specialty vehicles, such as ambulances and fire trucks. We are experts at structuring leases for a wide range of equipment given our mandate to service a wide range of business clients, and in providing lease vs. buy vs. loan comparisons to our clients. 3) Roynat Lease Finance: In July 2008, Scotiabank purchased the Canadian commercial finance division of Irwin Financial Corp. (NYSE:IFC), including the lease assets (representing $400 million of Canadian small ticket equipment leases) and the delivery platform of Irwin Commercial Finance Canada. The acquisition, renamed Roynat Lease Finance Inc., enhances Scotiabank s lease offering to the market. The portfolio is well diversified in terms of asset type, customers and geographical locations. We wish to stress that we can most effectively contribute to the auto lease market by building on our automotive finance expertise and our existing model of indirect lease financing through the automobile dealer. Our Dealer Value Lease Plan (DVLP) was built on this dealer delivery channel. Should banks be granted the ability to participate in the automotive leasing market, we would do so through our dealer-centric model in offering auto lease financing products. Lease financing landscape The lease financing landscape is changing rapidly. Scotiabank estimates that leasing accounted for more than 40% of overall new car and light truck volumes in Canada from 2004 through That share had declined to some 15% by mid Open-end leases are attractive to consumers and auto dealerships because they provide benefits not available through auto loans, including: 1 Lower monthly payments (due to PST and GST deferral); 2 Flexibility to purchase the car for the residual value at the end of the lease term, or to lease or buy a new vehicle through the automotive dealership; 3 100% term financing (with no down payment required); 3

4 4 Flexibility to make a down payment or apply your trade-in towards the lease, which can reduce monthly payments; and 5 Convenience of making all lease arrangements through the consumer s chosen automobile dealership and the benefit of the dealership s expertise in structuring the monthly payments and residual end value terms. The recent performance of the auto lease financing market in Canada is clear evidence of a need to allow for more choice for consumers by providing more automobile lease financing options for all Canadian automotive dealerships and their retail customers. Scotiabank recommendations We draw two conclusions from the ongoing restructuring in the auto market. The first is that the restructuring will be enduring, leading to sustained uncertainty regarding manufacturers and consumers. The second related conclusion is that a stable and sustainable auto lease financing market must allow for alternatives to the limited number of auto lease financing options currently available to consumers and dealerships. Auto lease financing is not available through all auto manufacturers and in those cases where manufacturer finance companies are still able to provide a lease product, there are no other options available to the dealership or the auto customer. The attraction of closed-end leases is clear both to consumers and to the limited number of finance companies that offer them. The consumer gets financing with a residual value that is guaranteed; the finance company is able to offer financing that is, in key respects, a marketing tool, driven by marketing, not financial, objectives. While this relationship may continue, it is not a sustainable or prudent model to protect through government regulatory barriers. The financial crisis and the auto sector crisis have demonstrated that reforms to flawed models are necessary. The auto lease market in Canada is a clear example of a model that needs reform. There is no better evidence of that than its recent performance, where the sources of auto leasing essentially collapsed without alternatives permitted to serve the market. Structural changes are needed to put this market on a stronger, more competitive, diverse and sustainable footing. Provision of financial leasing services, like all financial services, should always be based on strong risk management principles. Auto dealers and consumers will be the beneficiaries of a more dynamic market and more stable lease model that works at all times of the business cycle. We put our recommendations forward with this as the objective. We believe that the artificial barriers that remain in Canada to alternate sources of auto lease financing should be removed to allow banks to offer financial leases through the Canadian auto dealer network. In particular, based on our long experience (since 1958) and partnerships with auto manufacturers and automotive dealerships, in providing indirect consumer financing through auto dealerships, we believe that we can provide a valuable complement to the 4

5 closed-end leases of the captive finance companies. We believe that banks can play a larger role in financial leasing, without entering the business of operational leasing. To this end, we propose to offer an open-end automobile lease through auto dealer origination, where the auto dealer continues to source the customer, sign the lease, maintain the vehicle, and maintain the relationship with the consumer. Specifically, we request the following changes in order to underwrite leases originated through auto dealers: Add fleet/consumer vehicle leasing companies to the list of permitted investments under section 468(1) of the Bank Act. Eliminate the gross weight limitation in section 464(1) of the Bank Act and in Can. Reg Financial Leasing Entity Regulation. With these changes, we would be in a position to quickly introduce a new source of auto lease financing into the market. We will offer financial as opposed to operational leases, working through our strong partnership with auto dealers across the country. Auto dealers would originate the auto leases through their customer relationship and they would continue to manage those customer relationships and all vehicle operational issues such as a servicing throughout the lease term. Responses to the four questions How do you view the role and prospects of lease financing of vehicles in the coming years? The failure to properly set vehicle residual values has put significant pressure on margins and has caused the market for closed-end leases to collapse with only a few selected manufacturer-specific options now available. Lease financing should be a broadly available option for auto dealers and consumers in Canada and this is currently not the case. Scotiabank believes that banks should be permitted to offer an alternative form of lease, the open-end lease, through auto dealers to complement the existing pre-dominance of closed-end leases provided by a select few captive finance companies. Are the existing restrictions on regulated financial institutions with regard to lease financing appropriate in the future financing environment? If not, how should these restrictions be amended to support broad access to financing in a stable framework? The current statutory limitations on bank participation in the lease market for vehicles and light trucks under 21 tons are not appropriate. Auto lease financing is not available to all manufacturers or auto dealers. While a small group of manufacturers and dealers who have an auto lease financing product, may be incented to protect this arrangement, we believe the market is best served by increased choice and competition by eliminating the current statutory barriers: Add fleet/consumer vehicle leasing companies to the list of permitted investments under section 468(1) of the Bank Act. 5

6 Eliminate the gross weight limitation in section 464(1) of the Bank Act and in Can. Reg Financial Leasing Entity Regulation. If federally regulated financial institutions were allowed to provide lease financing, would you expect these entities to participate in leasing? Do you believe such participation would result in a significant increase in the availability of lease financing? Scotiabank is willing to expand its offering of open-end lease products both through dealers and through investments in leasing subsidiaries. Scotiabank can quickly engage in this activity to address the current difficulties in the auto lease finance market. Does financial leasing of vehicles and personal household property pose risks to financial institutions? If so, how can those risks be managed? Yes, financial leasing of vehicles on a closed-end basis exposes any institution to vehicle residual losses. This has, in fact, been the case with all manufacturers captive finance providers, whose vehicle lease products are structured mainly as marketing tools. Openend lease products address this prudential risk. Our record demonstrates that we have maintained low loss ratios in the market for equipment leasing and in the Dealer Value Lease Plan (DVLP). Our products offer stable financing in any business environment, and they are based on a strong credit culture and on strong risk management principles that do not permit us to take any unnecessary residual risk. 6

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