CIBC to take Apple Watch and other tidbits from its AGM

CIBC announced at its annual general meeting in Calgary on Thursday that the bank will become the first of Canada's so-called Big Six banks in Canada to adopt Apple Watch.

How you bank continues to change with new technology

CIBC Mobile Banking app for Apple Watch (CIBC)

CIBC held its annual general meeting in Calgary on Thursday, discussing how it managed to deliver profit of $3.7 billion in the last year and what's next for one of Canada's big banks. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

1. CIBC will be on Apple Watch in Canada

CIBC has updated its mobile banking app to work on the forthcoming Apple Watch, making it the first of Canada's Big Six banks to do so. 

At the bank's annual general meeting in Calgary on Thursday, new CEO Victor Dodig announced that the bank had updated its mobile banking app to work with the device, which ships in Canada tomorrow.

Desjardins and Tangerine (formerly ING Direct Canada) also have apps that allow customers to link their accounts there to the Apple Watch, But CIBC's news Thursday makes it the first of Canada's so-called Big Six banks to do so.

The app at launch will include fairly rudimentary capabilities, including the ability to check account balances, transfer funds, review transactions, and find the nearest bank branch or ATM.

Users will not have the ability to pay for transactions by waving the device over a scanner starting tomorrow, but the app is likely a first step in offering that functionality in the near future.

2. Why use a branch?

More and more people are choosing to do their banking outside of actual banks. In fact, according to CIBC, four out of five transactions are done away from a branch. Furthermore, over the last five months, mobile device banking logins are now higher than online banking computer logins. Electronic services are increasing in popularity, including e-Deposit of cheques, which CIBC customers have now used almost four million times.

3. Evolving branches

For those still making the trip to a branch, one day you might walk into a completely new experience. "If you want a glimpse into what our future branches look like, go to Whistler," says Dodig. "There are no teller wickets, there are no customer service wickets, people walk around with tablets." 
About 250 shareholders showed up for the bank's AGM in Calgary. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

4. Executive compensation

There was some speculation the executive team would be hit with a barrage of complaints from shareholders about their compensation. In the last week, two major institutional investors, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, both said they are unhappy about executive pay. Two outgoing executives are set to receive about $25-million in post-retirement pay.

At the meeting, there were few people stepping up to the microphones and vocally complaining about the issue. In fact, one shareholder spoke up about how he actually wants executives to be paid handsomely. CIBC Chair Charles Sirois was surprised by the vote of confidence, responding "Thanks, normally I don't have these kinds of comments."

Later, shareholders would send a clearer message by defeating a motion to support the company's compensation policies. Only 43 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the policy.

5. Alberta's woes

Dodig does not seem to be overly concerned about the possible recession in Alberta because of low oil prices. He spoke about needing caution, although he is confident in the health of Alberta companies.

Furthermore, he received applause from the crowd after answering a question about his views on pipelines. He supports proposed pipeline projects and describes the energy sector as "responsible financially and environmentally."

6. Non-bank competitors

There is worry by the big banks about new services coming to Canada such as SureTap and ApplePay. They could siphon away business. Dodig admitted as much, although he also tried to dismiss their impact.

"As these new players enter the market we expect some clients to start to transact with them. However, we expect these new entrants are going to play at the edges of the traditional financial services business."

7. No time for reporters

Dodig did a few interviews in advance of the AGM, but sidestepped reporters at the actual event. It was unusual since the majority of company CEOs set aside time to speak with journalists after annual meetings and other events. It also was a surprise since Dodig repeatedly described CIBC as a modern, forward-thinking bank during his speech. The lack of a scrum closed the door on following up on issues facing the bank, such as outgoing CEO Gerry McCaughey's retirement package or why Apple, a disruptive force in the tech industry, isn't considered a more significant threat to the banking industry. 

with files from CBC's Pete Evans


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