As CIBC’s Head of Business Banking, Andrew leads a team that’s transforming what Canadian entrepreneurs and professionals can expect from their bank. Previously, Andrew led CIBC’s direct investing business, CIBC Investor’s Edge, and was Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Strategy for its Wealth Management division when CIBC expanded into the U.S. Andrew is an active speaker and diversity advocate and is a volunteer leader with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Canadian Cancer Society.
Canadian business owners face many decisions and challenges on a daily basis – how does CIBC Business Banking support small businesses?
Business owners need to wear many hats, and do it well. We also know that running a business is a team sport, and that’s how we approach our banking relationships – as a team member. It’s our goal to understand our clients’ evolving needs and help them realize the full potential of their business, from start-up all the way through to a prosperous retirement.
How do you help entrepreneurs through the business life cycle?
We offer online tools and the Start Strong program to help new businesses launch by mapping out how to go from a vision on a sheet of paper to a fully fledged business plan and the execution of it.
We’re very focused on tailoring our offerings to specific segments and showing our deep industry knowledge. For example, we just launched a best-in-class offer for practicing physicians that include business and personal banking – addressing the nexus of cash management, tax and retirement planning.
On the advice side, we’ve been investing in our team. We’ve introduced new advisory roles – people with deep industry knowledge who are making a real difference in helping business owners look at financing opportunities and how to better manage cash flow so they can realize their growth aspirations.
We’ve also reduced fees on a number of capabilities such as our CIBC Cash Management Online service. We now offer free monthly access so that more business owners can use this service to make payments to their suppliers. When it comes to sending money internationally, CIBC Business Banking clients can also now do so without any transfer fees to over 75 countries through CIBC Global Money Transfer.
How is technology changing the day-to-day for business owners?
It’s changing how business owners interact and transact with their employees, their customers, and their suppliers. Business owners are adopting and embracing technology, and we are part of that shift from a banking perspective.
Digital commerce has allowed businesses to expand outside of traditional borders much more quickly. We published a study in late 2017 that showed 72 percent of business owners aged 25 to 39 are engaging in some sort of international export opportunity. This is a major shift from other cohorts and is a direct result of the modern set of tools now available to manage international payments, international suppliers, and supply chains that enable them to ship to and from anywhere in the world. Exporting introduces so much complexity early in the business lifecycle, but the tools that we have, like our advanced cash management solutions, support that type of service-oriented business with a virtual supply chain.
We are also creating innovative tools for our clients that will simplify their lives and help them run stronger businesses. Right now we are in pilot for a new platform that is a game-changer. It’s called CIBC Smart Banking for Business – a new technology tool that combines banking information along with cloud accounting services and payroll solutions in one dynamic digital dashboard.
How is CIBC Smart Banking for Business a game-changer?
It is the first platform in Canada that allows clients to integrate their banking, accounting services and payroll solutions in one dashboard – so you have a consolidated view all in one location.
To bring the platform to life, we’ve partnered with Intuit and other leading software companies that are widely used by small business owners and their strategic partners like accountants and bookkeepers.
Business owners will be able to reduce the amount of reconciliation work they do, communicate more fluidly with their bookkeeper, and make quicker informed decisions with the data that’s in front of them. We’re making these investments so businesses owners will have more time to focus on other areas of their business. More CEO, less CFO.
Whether it’s hiring the right talent, training them, managing their financial affairs, serving customers, developing the growth strategy – business owners face an intense amount of pressure and our goal is to free up time so SME owners can focus on what is important to them.
Do other banks offer similar integrated tools like this?
CIBC is the first bank to offer two-way data integration with accounting and payroll partners through CIBC Smart Banking for Business. CIBC clients with QuickBooks Online, for instance, will be able to seamlessly navigate between the CIBC banking platform and QuickBooks Online. Businesses will be able to see an integrated view of their banking and accounting information in one place, with information and visuals of payables and receivables that allow them to better manage cash flow.
When is Smart Banking for Business launching?
It’s in pilot right now and we’re launching it to all business banking clients in the summer of 2019.
What advice are business owners looking for from their bank on growth?
We spend a lot of time with clients on the intersection between cash management and growth. If a business is growing, you need the working capital so we have conversations around cash management and how to finance your next stage of growth smartly so that you’re not adding too much leverage into the business. I’ve worked with some clients to help them reduce the amount of inventory they have so that they can get more with their own supply chain and then don’t need as much inventory, which ties up working capital.
These advisory conversations are valuable to businesses whether they’re in growth mode or if they’re facing any profitability challenges. We look to take some of that uncertainty away by being crystal clear on your cash flow situation – it’s incredibly important and a struggle for many businesses.
In your expert opinion, what are the three key factors that contribute to the success of SMEs?
Number one – talent. In Canada, we’ve got the deepest, richest, most diverse human capital available in the world and I think a key success factor for all businesses in this country is unlocking the full potential of the diversity of our workforce. We have built the economy around much more knowledge-based services oriented and global businesses, even at a very early stage. And unlocking that knowledge, that diversity, I think it’s going to be incredibly important.
Two – partners. You’ve got to choose your partners very carefully because you’re probably going to retain them for many years to come. So, do your due diligence to find people who will enable you to move from a vision on paper to see it come to life. That’s our goal at CIBC Business Banking – to help you realize your full potential.
Three – financial management is especially critical in the first five years of a SME business life cycle. You need to marry strong strategic vision with sound financial management, get the right balance in growth through financing and growth by reinvesting earnings. If you grow too quickly through financing, sometimes that can lead to challenges. And if you only bootstrap, sometimes you miss that market opportunity to disrupt in a short window. If you’ve partnered with the right advisors, you can hopefully get that that optimal balance to succeed in a competitive market.
You were included in Canada’s Top 40 under 40 lists in 2018. What does this represent to you?
I believe that we in Canada have an opportunity, and an obligation, to unlock the full potential of our diversity. I feel I’m in a unique position in my role to support diversity through business because until we unlock that full potential, we won’t have built the country that we want to build.