Picture a circle.
Got it? Okay, now picture yourself at the centre of it. You there? Good. Now imagine your financial needs—investment planning, credit management, estate and trust advisement, personal and business development—rotating around you. From there, envision individual consultants branching off, connected to each other but also to you, resulting in a cohesive wheel of banking assistance.
This is where CIBC’s Private Wealth Management arm puts each client: in the centre of it all.
“You put the client in the middle, and whatever the client’s needs are—whether it be commercial banking, private banking, Wood Gundy investment management, whatever it is—we have the team of people to deliver it to them,” says Jean-Marc Freeman, CIBC Private Wealth Management managing director and region head for British Columbia. “It’s not a siloed approach, it’s a team approach.” That “team approach” is exemplified today in one of the boardrooms at CIBC Wood Gundy’s West Pender location in downtown Vancouver, where Freeman is joined by branch manager Human Alghabi and Private Wealth Management executive director Norm Tam.
“We’re constantly talking multiple times a day about different client situations: ‘What’s the best piece of the puzzle here?’” Freeman says of his relationship with his colleagues. “This is completely seamless and quite refreshing. Really, it’s, ‘What is most important for the client? Boom, let’s figure out which parts of the bank are going to best fit that client.’”
In this branch’s open-plan office, the dozens of advisors (be they experts in private banking, estate planning, or wealth strategy) are able to speak easily with each other to produce the best-case scenario for every customer. Even in today’s automated, digitized world, a multi-layered, personal approach is still very much the way forward for CIBC. “It’s a human-touch business,” Alghabi asserts, reflecting on the future of banking. “Our vision is really to be a leader in client relationships. I think fundamentally our CEO and the bank understands that, and that’s what permeates into our client relationships. Technology for sure is going to continue to find ways to do things more efficiently and streamline things, but that client relationship piece is going to be critical.”
At the end of the day, a bank is a bank—whether you put your money in the red one, blue one, or green one can at times seem irrelevant. What makes a particular establishment stand out, then, is its people: the ways they interact, the ways they serve, the ways they innovate. The ways they remain dedicated to their purpose.
“I’ve been with the bank 26 years,” says Tam, who started out with CIBC as a teller and worked his way up. “What’s been the common theme through all that is, over the years as I moved through all those different roles, the products come and go—there’s flavours of the month, interest rates come and go—at the core of all that, and what keeps me here, is the impact we have on the clients.”
Go behind the scenes with more from Business.