COVID-19 will likely cause companies to re-think how they manage their businesses for the long-term, according to former Bank of New York Mellon Corp. chief executive officer Robert Kelly, noting that it could be years before the pandemic’s impact is no longer felt.

“This is going to drag on for a long time. This isn’t another quarter or two. I think before we all have vaccines and get them fixed, and people start flying again, it could be a year, it could be longer,” Kelly told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman Thursday in a television interview.  “And that’ll have a real impact on boards and how they govern and oversee management. [It will] have a real impact on CEOs and how they manage their businesses.”

“I think bank managements and boards will be thinking about longer-term strategy, how to add value while supporting the Canadian borrowers as well as keeping the deposits safe,” he added. “They’ve navigated this pretty well for over 100 years and I think they’ll continue to.”

Kelly served as chairman chief executive of BNY Mellon from 2007 to 2011 before he took the helm at the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) in 2013 for five years. Prior to these high-profile roles, Kelly spent nearly 19 years at Toronto-Dominion bank in various positions, including as vice-chair.

In terms of how Canadian banks will think about foreign investments during the pandemic, Kelly said he thinks they will continue to favour diversification.

“The Canadian-American economies are highly linked and they will continue to be in spite of any rumors to the contrary,” he said. 

 “I think people will be a little hesitant about making acquisitions in these times. I would think regulators would support them in that. You want to maintain your capital ratios, and you don’t want to take a lot of additional risk,” he added.

“At some point, though, the Canadian economy will turn around. Things will slowly start to improve.”