For Scotiabank's global banking transactions group, 2009 was the year of the squeeze.

The unit under Alberta Cefis was faced with reduced fees on foreign-exchange business because of the strong Canadian dollar. A worldwide drop in trade also threatened its core trade-finance and clearing business.

Her unit responded by revamping its pricing and expanding its footprint-initiatives that helped grow revenue by 10 percent last year despite the poor economy.

"We really looked at optimizing pricing, and not leaving anything on the table," says Cefis, who has been at Canada's No.3 bank for 11 years.

In adjusting trade-finance pricing, the unit began weighting new risks to counterparties, such as the types of goods being sold and "the fact that credit was not so readily available," Cefis says.

Also helping drive its revenue growth was an increase in trade-finance activity in emerging markets such as Latin America and Asia and more cross-selling efforts that extended cashmanagement and deposit services to corporate-trade clients. In all, deposits in global transaction banking grew 11 percent last year, to $58 billion.

Over the next three years, Cefis and her team plan to find about $104 million in added revenue by utilizing processing improvements in currency clearing and handling lettersofcredit.

Rick Waugh, Scotiabank's president and chief executive, lauds the processimprovement Cefis effected.

Waugh says he is impressed with her ability to build a profitable business and consistently deliver solid results, regardless of the economy.

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