CIBC, RBC on defensive over sales tactics

TORONTO — Chief executives at two of Canada’s biggest banks highlighted their efforts to listen to client and employee feedback in the wake of news reports that alleged some employees at financial institutions broke the law in order to meet sales targets.

Royal Bank CEO Dave McKay says his bank surveys its employees and customers regularly and makes changes to its business practices based on the feedback it receives.

Questions about sales practices have dogged the chief executives of Canada’s biggest banks during this year’s shareholder meetings, following CBC reports in recent weeks that cited unnamed employees who allege they faced pressure from management to boost sales or risk losing their jobs.

Speaking at Royal Bank’s (TSX:RY) annual meeting in Toronto, McKay said that of the 2.4 million accounts the bank opened last year, less than 0.05 per cent of clients escalated a complaint about the way that the account was opened.

Meanwhile, CIBC chairman John Manley said the bank has received no complaints from employees or customers that related to the types of sales practices described in the reports.

CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig said his bank is focused on meeting its clients’ needs.

“I always tell everybody — we need to do what is right for our clients,” Dodig said in Ottawa in response to a shareholder’s question during the bank’s annual meeting (TSX:CM).

“The earnings will come if we do the right thing for our clients.”

—With files from Craig Wong in Ottawa.

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