CIBC joins account aggregation service

An American account aggregation company has found a foothold in Canada by signing agreements with some of the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Account aggregation is a service whereby account holders can view most — if not all — of their financial assets through one banking portal. CashEdge Inc., with offices in New York and Milpitas, Calif., has reached agreements with Royal Bank, Bank of Laurentian, TD Canada Trust and added CIBC to the fold on Monday.

Most of CIBC’s customers use at least one other financial institution to manage or hold their funds, said Corinne Charette, vice-president of Internet channel for CIBC. The bank is piloting the CashEdge aggregation technology in January and will roll it out to its Web site later next year.

CIBC customers will be able to enter account numbers and passwords for all of their financial holdings through the CIBC Web site, then have all of that financial data returned on one page. Information could come from mutual funds, account balances, stock portfolios — any personal financial information that can be accessed over the Internet, said Charette.

“The best way to think about it is we’re providing a database that you can then query the same way you can query any kind of database,” said Neil Platt, vice-president of corporate development for CashEdge.

CashEdge will be working with its Canadian clients to devise query and analysis tools, but it will ultimately be up to the individual banks to determine services and the portal’s look and feel, said Platt. Services CIBC will be adding may include calculators and portfolio management, said Charette.

“We expect to enhance our aggregation offering progressively,” she said. “We’re piloting in January and we expect to learn from the pilots, find out what our customers are specifically after and ensure that we build that into the post-pilot production environment.”

The Canadian financial landscape lends itself particularly well to the aggregation concept, said Gomez Inc. analyst Don Rolfe — more so than the United States. He estimates here are about 150 financial institutions in Canada, compared to more than 10,000 in the U.S. Customer retention through added services is a paramount concern for Canadian banks, he said.

“The Canadian marketplace is more in tune for these things happening faster. We already have consolidated financial services. Banks bought brokers, banks offer mutual funds. In the States, you don’t see that to the same degree,” said Rolfe.

CashEdge has worked with asset management firm the Vanguard Group and the Yahoo Finance portal in the U.S., but its largest customer base has been in Canada, said Platt. Both CIBC and Royal Bank have taken out a stake in the company.

“It’s partly fortuitous that our first customer was in Canada, but I think Canada is actually is a great market for Internet banking technologies, because the uptake has been higher,” he said.

The company is also working on aggregation technology for corporate users.

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