CIBC Targets Central Canada to Expand Private-Wealth

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the country’s fifth-biggest bank, plans to expand its private-wealth business, focusing on Central Canada and the Atlantic provinces.

“We see a lot more wealth now in Central Canada --Manitoba and Saskatchewan -- so we feel we need to have a presence there,” Gary Whitfield, head of private-wealth management in Canada, said in an interview. “You’ve seen growth of the economy in Saskatchewan, so that’s a place for us to look.”

Canadian Imperial seeks to add offices and advisers that offer services to wealthy clients and build on its takeover of MFS McLean Budden’s private-wealth business from Sun Life Financial Inc. in September. The business is part of the wealth-management unit of the Toronto-based bank. Whitfield said growth will come from both internal expansion and acquisitions.

CIBC opened a private-wealth office in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan, Ontario, in April, the third such branch to open near Canada’s most-populous city in the past two years. The firm also added offices in Victoria, British Columbia, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, in that period, bringing the total to 15 across the country.

“The one missing piece of our platform is Atlantic Canada,” Whitfield said. “We used to have more in there but after 2008 we really put it on hold, and now we need to reestablish our presence.”

Grow ‘Quickly’

Canadian Imperial sees opportunities to expand as the number of wealthy Canadians increases and an aging, affluent population seeks higher yield on investments, Whitfield said. About 60 percent of investment assets in Canada are held by high-net-worth individuals, Whitfield said, which he defined as those with C$1 million ($973,425) to invest or an annual income of C$250,000 or more.

CIBC also has expanded in the U.S. Last month, the lender agreed to buy Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management from Invesco Ltd. for $210 million.

The bank has a medium-term goal of having wealth management represent 15 percent of earnings, up from about 10 percent last year. Whitfield said he sees private wealth as a key contributor.

“We can grow this business quickly, which means that we should, hopefully over time, become and increasingly important part of wealth management,” he said.

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