Tag Archives: CIBC

Why you should closely monitor your bank account

I love online banking because I like to visit my money every day to make sure it’s still all there. So imagine my surprise when the RBC account I share with my mother and sister went within a couple of days from half a million dollars in arrears to a balance of +$500,000!

My sister discovered the deficit initially when in late May she tried to take out a small amount of cash for my mother and she was locked out of the account.

In fact, in mid-May at our request CIBC Investors Edge had processed a transfer of $512,000 from the RBC account to our CIBC investment account. This was the proceeds of sale from my mother’s condo. But then CIBC initiated a second transfer of the exact same amount on May 29th and since there was only a few thousand dollars in the RBC account to pay monthly bills, we were left with a huge negative balance.

When I contacted CIBC, our IE representative told us that as a result of “a bank error” thousands of May transfers into CIBC IE were duplicated and that the problem would be rectified within a day. Meanwhile, RBC said not to worry, because the second transfer out would be sent back and the negative balance in the account would be reversed as we do not have overdraft protection. However, just to make sure I was advised to notify any vendors with automatic withdrawals that their cheques may bounce temporarily.

That occurred within hours and our RBC account was unlocked. But the next day CIBC IE also “fixed” the problem by transferring $512,000 back into the RBC account, leaving us with a hefty, unwarranted surplus! Much as I was tempted to blow town and take an around-the-world cruise, I dutifully reported the new error to our CIBC IE representative. He said the second mistake would be quickly rectified.

Shortly after, I also got a call from the CIBC Director of Executive Client Relations apologizing for the inconvenience and assuring me the $512,000 erroneously deposited to our account would be out of the RBC account on Friday June 2nd. It took until June 6th for the extra $512,000 to disappear.

In spite of our conversation I still can’t figure out how similar mistakes possibly involving thousands of clients were never communicated to clients up front or investigated by the mainstream media. I was told CIBC had no idea there had been a computer glitch until their clients started reporting the mistakes.

This comedy of errors was reversed in a few days and the only residual effect that I am  left with is a great story. But it could have been much worse if I wasn’t able to track the errors online and quickly make the necessary calls to understand and correct the errors.   And it was also time-consuming and embarrassing to have to make multiple calls and stop payment on the monthly payment to my mother’s nursing home.

So the moral of the story is: Check your recorded bank account transactions frequently either in person or online. If something looks wrong it probably is. The sooner you intervene and get it fixed, the less chance there is that an error will go unnoticed, affecting both your cash flow and your credit rating.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Oct 19: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

One of the ways many of us try to stretch our dollars further is by taking advantage of rewards programs ranging from cash back or travel rewards on credit cards to points cards from your local supermarket or drug store.

I have been a big fan of travel rewards ever since I did a distance Master of Law degree in the UK in the mid 1990s that required me to travel to Europe half a dozen times in two years. But I have a collection of other loyalty cards in my wallet including a punch card from a bakery that rewards me with a free dozen bagels every time I’ve purchased ten dozen in total.

A September 2015 report from Montreal-based Aimia Inc., which operates Aeroplan and other customer-loyalty programs says of the 89% of Canadians enrolled in a loyalty program, 59% have done so with supermarkets, 22% have signed up with banks and 18% with restaurants.

On itbusiness.ca Brian Jackson reported in March 2015 on a research study conducted by Yahoo Inc. The average Canadian has four loyalty program cards in their wallets, the study found. More than half of consumers say they frequently use those cards to accumulate points and miles. Two-thirds of them go online to calculate the value of the loyalty program, and six out of 10 choose loyalty programs that come free-of-charge.

On Robb Engen’s say-so, I replaced my CIBC Aeroplan VISA with a Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard about 18 months ago. This week I was delighted to get an email from the company describing how their program has been enhanced by elimination of the the tiered redemption program and the introduction of partial redemptions. Read all about the changes on RewardsCardsCanada and why with these changes, Capital One has further cemented its status as the best value rewards card for everyday travelers.

If unlike your jet setting neighbours, you travel infrequently, you may be interested in the blog on familyfuncanada.com about the best loyalty programs for infrequent travelers. Helen Early says Airmiles can bring you plenty of rewards. According to Early, the best thing about the Airmiles program is that you can earn points almost anywhere, through activities that you probably already do. She also notes that hotel chains like Faimont, Starwood, Best Western and Hilton offer great deals and discounts for even the lowest tier of members.

Krystal Yee wrote a sponsored post on Give Me Back My Five Bucks about how you can be rewarded for everyday purchases when using your debit card. She reports that while there are very few debit rewards in Canada, Scotiabank offers three.

  • The SCENE Debit Card allows you to earn accelerated points through Cineplex online and in person (5x based on purchases) as well as at a few other select locations including Sport Chek, Milestones and East Side Mario’s. You will also earn one point for every five dollars spent in other locations.
  • With the Moneyback Debit Card you can earn 1% on every purchase you make – up to a maximum of $300 per year. Those that open up an account before October 31st will earn double the rewards – $600 – through to that day.
  • With every purchase made on a ScotiaHockey NHL® debit card, you will be entered to win grand prizes including four 2016 NHL® All-Star Game packages, four 2016 Stanley Cup® Final packages, four 2016 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ packages as well as 45 monthly prizes.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Manage your retirement expectations

By Sheryl Smolkin

18-Sept-Takecontrolofyourretirement

A CIBC poll conducted by Nielsen reveals that younger Canadians are more optimistic about their retirement and ability to save but they are less likely to be taking action. The poll also found that expectations of older Canadians fall dramatically.

Thirty per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 say they expect to live better in retirement than they do today but the number falls to 17% for 25-34 year olds and continues to drop to three percent of those aged 55-64.

Despite their optimism, younger Canadians are less likely to have started saving. Forty percent of 18-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds say they have not yet started saving for retirement, compared to just 16% of Canadians overall.

The poll results suggest that although younger Canadians are positive about their future retirement plans, they may be relying too much on time to meet their retirement goals and not taking necessary actions now that could help them realize their goals.

“Time is on the side of younger Canadians who have many years to retirement, but that’s only an advantage if you take action and use those years to start accumulating savings,” says Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. “While it’s not surprising that younger Canadians are optimistic about how they expect to retire, the fact that so many people nearing retirement aren’t as hopeful speaks to the importance of having a financial plan in place earlier on.”

The poll also revealed that the majority of Canadians (58%) believe it is still possible to put money away each month and retire in their 60s, particularly 18-24 year olds (71%), and to a similar extent, 25-34 year olds (68%).

This is a positive finding, according to Kramer. “Considering how often we hear talk of the increasing cost of living, it’s good news that so many Canadians, especially younger people, still think saving for retirement is achievable,” she says. “The key is to make a plan and take steps to begin saving – the sooner you start putting money aside and earmarking it for your retirement, the longer you’ll have for your money to grow.”

Advice for focusing on retirement savings

  • Talk to an advisor: Meet with an advisor to understand your options, and work with them to develop a plan that can help you in managing multiple financial priorities and staying on track over the long term.
  • Contribute regularly: Set up a regular investment plan to automatically withdraw smaller amounts throughout the year, rather than trying to find the funds for a large lump payment at the deadline.
  • Save at work: Many employers offer group retirement savings plans, defined contribution plans or the Saskatchewan Pension Plan to their employees and top up employee contributions by a specified amount. Save at work and take advantage of this free money.
  • Don’t lose sight of the longer term: While it is important to address immediate financial needs such as debt reduction or saving for a large purchase, it is equally important to keep future goals such as retirement in sight. 

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a defined contribution retirement savings plan open to all Canadians. If you have RRSP contribution room, you can save $2,500/year or transfer in $10,000 from another RRSP. In 2013 the SPP balanced fund earned 15.8% and this fund has average a return of 8.1% since it started in 1986. For more details about the plan and how to enrol, see the SPP website.

Free resources for business start-ups

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

In September 2012 CIBC Economics reported that as of the previous June, more than half a million Canadians were in the process of starting their own business. Regionally British Columbia has the greatest start-up activity followed closely by Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If you are thinking about starting a small business or already doing so, saving money is a big priority. You may be surprised to learn how many free or low cost software tools are available to help you deliver a professional product with little additional overhead. Typically, enhanced versions of these products with more features are available for a monthly fee.

Here are some of the free resources I have used or become aware of since I started a retirement career as a freelance consultant and journalist three years ago. There are many other products with similar functionality available online so I encourage you to look for alternatives best suited to your business needs.

  1. Blogging software: A blog is a great way to promote your new business. You can be up and running for free in no time using programs such as WordPress or Blogspot. Depending on your budget and technical abilities, a blog can be incorporated into a more comprehensive website. For example, Savewithspp.com is an easy to update and maintain WordPress blog.
  2. Long distance calls: Using Skype on your computer or telephone for long distance audio or video calls will save you a fortune in long distance calls. Many recruiters now routinely use Skype for interviewing candidates worldwide. It has become an industry standard in many other businesses of all sizes.
  3. Google drive: Google Drive has a whole suite of free tools that gives you access to your work from anywhere on virtually any device. The feature I have found most useful is the ability to create shared spreadsheets with several clients to track publication schedules, release dates and billing. I haven’t tried it yet, but Google Hangouts which allows you to start or join an HD video meeting with up to 15 participants from wherever you are looks really interesting. 
  4. Google doodle: If you think trying to schedule a meeting with a group of people is akin to herding cats then this tool is for you. It’s called Doodle and it allows you to create an event and invite people to fill in the dates and times they are available. Then you can go to the website and see how they all match up to select a common meeting time, or create an event that only allows them to select one time slot.
  5. Dropbox: Dropbox is another multi-faceted cloud-based solution. I use it for storing and sharing files with clients. It is particularly useful if you need to move large video or audio files which cannot be easily sent by email.
  6. Webinars: A WebEx basic account will allow you to set up meetings online with shared slides and audio for up to 100 people. A premium “for pay” account offers more features and can accommodate a larger group.
  7. Conference calls: Using this site you can set up free conference calls with a dial-in number. The only hitch is that the free product does not include toll-free (800) dial-in numbers Therefore, call participants out of the calling area will pay long distance charges. For pay services also offered on the site will set you up with a toll-free line and other features. 
  8. Audio editing: I frequently do podcast audio interviews using an Olympus digital recorder plugged into my landline (yes, I still have one). Recently I turned my recorder on too soon and there were several seconds at the beginning that had to be edited out. Free audio editor for Windows saved the day!
  9. Newsletters: Paperlii is an intriguing free tool that allows you to pick a series of online sources and search terms which automatically run every day and generate an online newspaper which is delivered electronically to your client’s inbox.

There are lots of other free tools for small businesses including accounting, project management and sales management tools. We invite you to share information about free software tools available on the web that help you to run a small business with low overhead.

And remember, money saved is money earned!

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is an easy way to save for retirement. There are many ways to contribute including via your credit card or automatic withdrawal from your bank account. Furthermore, as your company grows, Saskatchewan Business Plans are ideal retirement savings vehicles for small employers. Click here for more information.

Do you have any ideas for saving money? Share your money saving tips with us at http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.