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Jan 31, 2020

CIBC notifies staff of upcoming layoffs, cost cutting in memo

CIBC plans to lay off undetermined number of staff

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The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce plans to lay off an undetermined number of staff in an effort to cut costs and become a “more efficient bank,” according to a company memo obtained by BNN Bloomberg.

CIBC Chief Executive Officer Victor Dodig said in the memo that the Toronto-based bank is looking for various ways to “simplify” the bank’s operations and keep costs down.

“This includes reviewing our team to ensure that we are structured to maximize the capabilities of our team, streamline decision-making and further enhance our ability to execute our strategy and priorities,” Dodig said. “As a result, some team members will be leaving our bank in the coming months.”

This announcement follows a string of job cuts and restructuring across Canada’s banking sector over the past few months that includes Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank.

BMO was the last major lender to take a restructuring charge tied to employee severances. The bank said in December the cuts would affect five per cent of its workforce, or about 2,300 employees, just six months after the lender pared about 100 jobs in its capital markets division.

CIBC CEO shrugs off short calls

Victor Dodig, president and CEO of CIBC, joins BNN Bloomberg's Amanda Lang for a look at his thoughts on the recent wave of Canadian bank bears targeting the country's financial sector.

BMO CEO Darryl White told BNN Bloomberg the cuts were to improve efficiency at a time of global economic uncertainty.

“We know we have the least-competitive cost structure among our peer set. And that’s a fact. And we’re addressing that head on,” White told Amanda Lang in a January interview. “And so with the restructuring, we said we are going to reduce our workforce by five per cent, what that means is we’re going to have to eliminate some low-value work that gets done.”

CIBC’s memo did not specify the number of expected layoffs, whether the bank would take a restructuring charge, nor which departments would be affected. 

Dodig said CIBC’s efficiency ratio, an index that measures the bank’s efficiency, was at 55.5 per cent at the end of last year, down notably from over 60 per cent five year ago (a lower number is better). He emphasized in the memo that the ratio needs to be improved to make it a better competitor in the market.

CIBC last took a restructuring charge in 2016 of $134 million relating to employee severance. CIBC currently has 45,157 full-time employees, according the bank’s latest financial results.

- With assistance from David George-Cosh