Industry employment is up month-over-month and year-over-year, client net equity positions are in healthy shape, their cash balances are up notably over figures reported a year ago, commission and fee revenues are higher and the number of Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) regulated firms reporting losses is on the decline, according to the most recent industry performance figures from the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC).

Its report, Industry Performance During the COVID Period, compiled for the period ended February 28, 2021, also examines customer margin borrowing trends, total industry revenues including fixed income trading revenues, debt and equity underwriting revenues and the industry’s investment banking revenues. 

Not surprising, the IIAC adds that operating expenses are notably higher than a year ago, spiking to almost $940-million in January 2021 before pulling back to $902-million in February. Industry employment numbers were higher than they were a year ago, coming in at 44,366 in February 2021, up from 43,356 in February 2020.

Client net equity positions, meanwhile, have rebounded nicely from the 10 per cent drop recorded in March 2020, to exceed figures reported a year ago. In January 2020 and February 2020 client net equity positions were $3.064-trillion and $2.959-trillion respectively, before falling to $2.668-trillion in March 2020. Those figures have since rebounded to $3.529-trillion in February 2021.

Client cash balances, at the same time, increased a notable 23 per cent between February and March 2020, and remained high straight through until the end of February 2021. In February 2020 client cash balances were almost $69.2-billion. The next month this figure jumped to $85.2 billion. As of February 28, 2021 those cash balances sit at more than $89.1-billion.

Total industry revenues in February 2021 were $2.877-billion, up from almost $2.652-billion a year ago. Broken down, commission revenues were $513.276-million, up from just $292.892-million in February 2020. Between February and March 2020 alone, commission revenues jumped a notable 58 per cent. Fee revenues during February 2021 were $845.289-million, up from $751.143 in March 2020. Fee revenues were highest during the year in January 2021 and in April 2020 when they were $964.286-million and $909.563-million, respectively.

All told, only 27 IIROC dealers reported losses during the month of February, down from 45 a year ago.