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Aug 16, 2017

CIBC launches new brand, cuts ties with PC Financial

CIBC ends partnership with President’s Choice

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TORONTO  - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) said on Wednesday it plans to launch a new online banking brand to replace the PC Financial consumer banking business it operates in partnership with retailer Loblaw Companies Ltd (L.TO).

CIBC, Canada's fifth-biggest lender, said the 2 million customers it currently serves through PC Financial will have their accounts moved to the new Simplii Financial brand, which will also offer mobile and telephone banking, on Nov. 1.

It said existing PC Financial customers can continue to use their bank accounts without disruption and there will be no change to account numbers, bill payments, preauthorized debits or automatic payroll deposits. Terms and conditions of customers' mortgages are also unaffected.

PC Financial told BNN via email that customers will be able to access and redeem their existing points acquired through the company's bank accounts or mortgages until Nov. 1, 2017. The company added that customers can continue to earn and redeem points by signing up for the PC Plus loyalty program.

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"When we ask our customers what they value most, they tell us they appreciate the ability to make payments simply and put free groceries on the kitchen table. That remains our focus," said President’s Choice Financial CEO Barry Columb in a statement. 

CIBC's executive vice-president for direct banking, Mike Boluch, told BNN via email that CIBC's nearly 20-year partnership with Loblaw was "a successful venture that brought great value to our clients," but that changing client needs propelled the bank to move in a new direction.

"By bringing our direct banking offer fully in house, we gain more control and greater flexibility for the future ... we will continue to enhance our capabilities, value for clients and add incremental growth over time," Boluch said.

CIBC said it will take a $100 million (US$78 million) charge related to the transaction in the current quarter.

“While CIBC’s announced plans to launch a new direct banking brand (Simplii Financial) should hold promise down the road … we believe [the partnership with President’s Choice] was beneficial to both sides and provided CIBC with a unique access channel,” wrote Barclays Capital Analyst John Aiken in a report to clients. 

- With files from BNN 


QUICK FACTS: WHAT'S CHANGED

By: The Canadian Press

Question: What's changing?
Answer: CIBC has provided the back-end banking services for PC Financial for nearly 20 years, but the companies said Wednesday they are going their separate ways after a brief transition period. Simplii will take over customer accounts starting Nov.1. PC Financial says everyday banking will continue without interruption.

Q: What types of accounts will move from President's Choice Financial to Simplii?
A: Everyday banking products, including savings, chequing, RRSP, TFSA and mortgage accounts, will be provided by CIBC under the new Simplii Financial brand. However, customers do not need to change information -- such as automated bill payments or direct deposits -- related to their current accounts. There are no changes to the terms and conditions of mortgages, but they will operate under a new name.

Q: What types of account will stay with President's Choice Financial?
A: President's Choice Financial will focus on payment and loyalty programs through its MasterCard credit card products and the PC Plus loyalty program. PC Financial MasterCards are not affected by the changes.

Q: What about the points?
A: It depends on the customer account. After Nov.1, PC Financial users will no longer earn PC points on their debit cards or for the first payroll or pension direct deposit to their bank accounts. But there are no changes for current PC Financial MasterCard holders, who will continue to earn and redeem PC Plus points. Customers who applied or refinance a fixed rate mortgage with PC Financial prior to Aug. 16, 2017, will receive the same amount of PC points on their mortgage advance date.

Q: What will happen to customers' PC Financial debit cards?
A: CIBC will send new debit cards to customers between Nov.1 and Apr. 13, 2018, to replace their current PC Financial cards. Until then, customers can continue to use their current debit card.

Q: Can Loblaws customers still collect PC points when grocery shopping?
A: Yes, the PC Plus program is separate from PC Financial and will continue. PC Financial customers will remain members of the PC loyalty program.

Q: Will PC Plus and Optimum be separate loyalty programs?
A: At this point, the PC Plus and Optimum loyalty programs will operate separately.

Q: When will the transition be completed?
A: CIBC says banking services will be rebranded as Simplii starting Nov.1. PC Bank says the full transition will be completed by April 13, 2018. Banking pavilions and ATMs will be removed from stores in stages beginning in November.

Q: Will current PC Financial customers get new account numbers?
A: No. Account details remain the same.

Q: Will current PC Financial customers get two sets of statements, from Simplii and PC Financial?
A: PC Financial MasterCard holders will continue to receive statements as they do today. But banking customer statements will come from the new CIBC brand as of Nov .1.

Q: Will Simplii have any kiosks, signage or automated teller machines in Loblaw-owned stores after the transition?
A: No.

Q: How will customers access their accounts under Simplii?
A: They will continue to have free access to over 3,400 bank machines across the CIBC network, as well as over the phone, online, and through a mobile app.

Q: Will there be toll-free numbers or web portals to answer questions from consumers?
A:  Yes. PC Financial says to call 1-888-723-8881.

Q: In the case of a dispute over details, where can consumers go for a resolution?
A: PC Financial says customers should call 1-888-723-8881.

Sources: PC Financial, a division of Loblaw; CIBC.