As the interest-rate can gets kicked down the road once again, PNC Financial Services Group's Bill Demchak plans to play along.
Demchak, chairman and chief executive of the Pittsburgh company, spent much of his time during a third-quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday discussing the effects of the Federal Reserve delaying a rate hike.
There isn't much the $362 billion-asset PNC can do, except take advantage of the low rates itself, Demchak said.
"If, basically, we're going to be in this low-rate environment for a long period of time, and we come to that conclusion and that's what is being foreshadowed by the Fed, then we will invest into it," he said.
That means continuing with PNC's plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in technology upgrades, Demchak said.
"Would we forgo tech spending and slow down our investments because of the near-term environment?" Demchak said. "The answer is no. To make a change in strategic direction technology as a function of the near-term rate outlook doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me."
The uncertainty isn't making things any easier for banks in terms of planning, Demchak said. Furthermore, the estimated impact on the economy from a slight rate rise has been overblown, he said.
"There is not a single CFO, CEO person that I [have] met anywhere inside of this country who suggests that they are going to change their investment decisions or purchasing behavior as a function of [a] 25-basis-point change in interest rates," Demchak said.
"We've trained people their whole lives that once they retire … they are supposed to change their 401(k) and put it into kind of a less risky fixed-rate investment portfolio," he said. "Today, they can't do it. They can't live on it. So we're stretching out the need for people to work. We are destroying their ability to retire with the savings they have today."
Underpinning PNC's discussion was the acknowledgment that the company's performance will remain sluggish.
"If, in fact, rates don't rise, it will just make growing revenues that much tougher in 2016 than it would be if rates did, in fact, rise," Rob Reilly, the bank's chief financial officer, said during the call.
Weaker-than-forecast global economic data has led to predictions that a rate hike won't happen until next year. Bond traders' bets that the Fed will lift rates by year-end have dropped to less than 30%, according to Bloomberg.
"Until rates move, our ability to materially grow the company and therefore improve our efficiency ratio is a struggle," Demchak said.