One difference between U.S. and Canadian bankers may be their sense of humor.
That's the conclusion from watching Peter Aceto, the chief executive of ING Direct Canada, play along in a "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" skit Monday that contrasted financial regulation in the U.S. and its neighbor to the north.
Regulation "definitely slows things down a little bit, but the Canadian system has not had a crash in 150 years or even longer," Aceto tells Jason Jones, a correspondent for the mock news program. Canada's banks weathered the housing crisis, the Internet bubble, the stock market crash of 1987 and the Great Depression all without much effect, Aceto notes.
"A ridiculous claim substantiated by nothing more than facts," Jones says later.
Aceto's participation in the segment came after his office learned the "Daily Show" had been looking to compare the U.S. and Canadian banking systems, Lisa Naccarato, a spokeswoman for ING Direct Canada, told American Banker. "It could have been risky for the bank but they assured us that the pun was to be on the U.S. banking system," said Naccarato, who added that the interview was not scripted.
"That's who Peter is," Naccarato added. "He likes to do things that are different."
For his part, Aceto took to Twitter on Tuesday to tell his roughly 12,300 followers he "had a great time" with the segment, as difficult as it was "to keep a straight face."
"Definitely laughter after the camera turned off," Aceto added. "I'm only human."
The segment did not include a traditional U.S. banker. Hedge fund manager John Tabacco provided the rebuttal. A Comedy Central spokeswoman did not respond immediately to a request for comment on a complaint by at least one banker to American Banker that the "Daily Show" selected a hedge fund manager to represent the U.S. banking industry.
Then again, it would be hard to picture Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan, or Wells Fargo's (WFC) John Stumpf, taking part.
Tabacco, who earlier had told Jones too much regulation would end with the U.S. "looking a hell of a lot more like Canada," concedes "there have been bubbles and bursts, but if you're educated and you're prepared, you should be able to profit."
Aceto and he was serious here rejects the claim. "There are some people, a very few amount of people, who can make money" from booms and busts, answers Aceto, who disagrees vehemently when Jones told him to forget about the rest of the people who suffer from a downturn. "I would never, ever say that," Aceto adds.
"Oh my god, somebody please teach these people how to bank," Jones laments afterward.