RBC Ousts TD to Reclaim Top Spot as Canada’s Biggest Bank

Royal Bank of Canada reclaimed its rank as the nation’s largest lender by assets from Toronto-Dominion Bank, which held the top spot for 15 months. The firms are the first in Canada to pass the C$1 trillion ($804 billion) milestone.

Royal Bank, which was No. 1 for most of the last century, reported C$1.09 trillion of total assets as of Jan. 31, exceeding C$1.08 trillion at Toronto-Dominion, according to their financial statements. Royal Bank’s advance also makes it the largest Canadian company by assets.

Two firms reaching the C$1 trillion mark is “a really big deal,” said Joe Martin, director of Canadian business history at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “Large corporations are very, very important for the success of any country’s economy, so this is a big deal for Canada.”

Canada has the world’s 11th largest economy, with an annual gross domestic product of $1.83 trillion, compared with the U.S., whose GDP of $16.8 trillion makes it the biggest. The U.S. has nine companies -- all financial-services firms -- exceeding the size of the two Canadian banks, with Fannie Mae holding $3.25 trillion of assets and JPMorgan Chase & Co. with $2.57 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Balance Sheet

“It isn’t necessarily the size of the balance sheet that counts,” Toronto-Dominion Chief Financial Officer Colleen Johnston said Thursday in a telephone interview. “We tend to focus more on our operations and what we’re doing for our shareholders in terms of returns and results.”

Toronto-Dominion surpassed Royal Bank at the end of fiscal 2013 for the first time after embarking on a decade-long expansion in U.S. consumer lending that helped boost assets at the Toronto-based company almost ninefold.

Royal Bank, also based in Toronto, first became Canada’s largest lender shortly after World War I. It leapfrogged Bank of Montreal following a series of mergers and expansions that helped it develop from a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based merchant bank to a national institution. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce briefly challenged Royal Bank for No. 1 in the late 1990s.

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