CIBC is Canada’s fifth largest bank by total assets (CA$565.3 billion) and a technology leader. CIBC was the first Canadian bank to offer a mobile-banking app for the iPhone, the first to offer a mobile brokerage app, and the first to offer a mobile-banking app for the Apple Watch. Dave Revell joined CIBC in 2011 as its senior vice president for strategic initiatives, then took the CIO role in 2017 to lead the bank’s multilayered, multipronged digital transformation efforts. 


Q: What are the main goals of CIBC’s digital strategy?

A: Client experience is first and foremost – making it easy and convenient for our clients to do business with us. Of course, having rock-solid security is an important part of that. Simplification is also important, in terms of making it easier for our team members to do their jobs on behalf of our clients. To that end, a lot of our efforts are focused around improving processes through automation and digitization.


We think digital is the new cost of doing business, so for us, it’s actually a business imperative.


Q: Is the traditional, cautious banking culture different from the modern digital mind-set, and does that represent a challenge?

A: It syncs perfectly with the business strategy of our CEO, Victor Dodig. When he came into the job about 4 years ago, Victor talked a lot about turning CIBC into a relationship-oriented bank for a modern world. Banking is still based on people and relationships, but modern banking is all digital.


A lot of customers no longer think of us as a traditional bank with a grand foyer. They think about a phone, because that’s how they interact with us.


As we began talking about enablers for the strategy, Victor would talk about innovation, simplification and customer-orientation. What’s being described is a cultural change from the top of the bank on down. We’re becoming more customer-focused and innovative, and we’re using technology tools to enhance the client experience.


We’re becoming more customer-focused and innovative, and we’re using technology tools to enhance the client experience.


Q: You’ve said your team is like a FinTech inside a bank. Is that a part of this larger culture change?

A: Yes, we’re actually leveraging the best of both worlds, like the FinTech approach of being disruptive using new technology, and marrying that with the things that banks have always been good at. That includes scaling to millions of customers, having rock-solid security and building large-scale solutions.

Our goal is to enable the innovation to transform to digital, while also recognizing that we need to do it at a large scale for millions of customers and across the bank.

Read the complete Q&A to learn how digital transformation is helping CIBC build a digital platform that can be continuously refreshed, enhanced and improved.