Simplii Financial Review – The New Kid on The Financial Block

Editor's Note: As we approach the halfway point of 2018, the unfortunate Simplii Financial Review update is that they have continued to disappointed old PC Financial customers (see comments below).  We continue to recommend Tangerine (see our full Tangerine Review) as Canada's premier online-only bank, with some super-charged strategies for scouting out the best accompanying high-interest savings account if you're so inclined.

In an earlier post, The Complete Guide to Canada’s Best Online Banks, we went into great length on what Disruption has meant to the banking and financial industry in Canada. Generally speaking, online banks have been good for the Canadian consumer (more choices = better competition). We’ve seen lower fees, expansion of services, and an enhancement in the use of technology to deliver innovative banking.

At the time of writing that post, PC Financial (PCF) had announced plans to disassociate itself from President’s Choice, and evolve into Simplii Financial under the CIBC umbrella. In the sections below, we’ll take a more in-depth look at what the new kid on Canada’s financial block has to offer.

President’s Choice Financial Transforms Into Simplii Financial

For nearly 20 years, President’s Choice (PC) has been offering online banking and other financial services through its PC Financial (PCF) arm. While the PC brand was the face of this organization, CIBC served as the back-end financial processing and clearing engine. Now, after more than two-decades of working together, the partnership has ended. In August this year CIBC announced that PC would no longer be offering consumer banking under it’s (PCF) umbrella, and all of those products and services would be transitioned back to the bank under the Simplii Financial brand.

Simplii Financial ReviewAccording to details of the great divide, once the split is finalized, PCF will still retain it’s MasterCard credit card service, as well as its PC Plus loyalty program. Post-separation, ex-PCF customers (who will seamlessly transition over to Simplii) will enjoy all the same savings, checking and other personal banking services with Simplii (courtesy of CIBC), that they had access to with PCF.

Speculations are rife as to why this separation has occurred, as well as to the timing? While we can’t really say with 100% certainty what the motivation is, we tend to agree with experts who state that the decision has a lot to with the changing retail landscape that Loblaws Companies LTD (the ultimate parent of PCF) is facing today. Already a diversified business entity, Loblaws is involved in many businesses including food, fashion apparel, pharmacies, and specialty discount goods.

Given the tremendous challenges it is facing in its current lines of businesses, it is likely that PC management thought it prudent to rededicate focus towards its core lines of businesses – groceries and retail sales. By retaining control of it’s MasterCard business however, PC still controls one of its higher-margin financial businesses.

On the other hand, CIBC has long been looking to take more direct control of its low-fee banking and financial products and services. By agreeing to this great divide, CIBC now positions itself on the same footing as some of its other rivals – notably Scotiabank with its Tangerine online banking service (see our Tangerine Review for more details).

The split does come at a cost to CIBC – in the form of a $100-million pre-tax price tag in administrative and legal charges. CIBC will also be giving up the ability to leverage tiered selling of some of its mortgage and lending services and products through PCF.

Simplii Financial Review: What’s Changing?

So, what’s really changing? On the face of it, at least until November 1, nothing! PC Financial customers will still have access to:

  • No-fee online banking
  • PC mortgage and loan products
  • Access to the CIBC network of ATMs
  • Continuity in preauthorized payments and automatic deposits
  • Accumulation of PC points  

According to the Simplii Financial website, once the bank “goes live” on November 1, 2017, it will continue to offer:

  • No-fee daily banking – without a minimum balance requirement
  • Higher and competitive interest rates on savings accounts and mortgages
  • FREE access to more than 3,400 ATMs within the CIBC network

One visible change that current PCF customers are likely to see, post-November 1, is that they will receive new Simplii Financial debit cards. Even the card numbers and PINs from the old PCF-era won’t change. They all remain the same. From a personal banking perspective, this is one less headache.

There’s also more good news for mobile banking clients of PCF. A new Simplii mobile banking site will replace the existing PCF site. The existing banking app will be updated to automatically redirect users to a new login page. Best of all – existing login credentials will be honoured at the new site, enabling online and mobile banking clients to continue “business as usual”.

The other area of significance that will change has to do with PC loyalty points. Since PC will continue to retain control of its loyalty points program, PCF customers who transition to Simplii and use their new debit cards to make pension or payroll direct deposits into Simplii, will no longer earn PC points. Holders of PCF MasterCards will continue to redeem existing PC points and collect new ones when using their PCF credit cards. PC MasterCard holders will also continue to receive the same types of statements (either paper or electronically) as they currently receive. Simplii banking clients will however receive a new set of statements under the rebranded entity. What will also likely vanish post the Nov 1 transition will be CIBC ATMs, kiosks and other visible CIBC signage at Loblaws stores.

Should I Use Simplii?

According to a report by the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), over 68% of Canadians now bank online, with 90% of those surveyed concurring that Canadian banks have dealt with digital transformation exceptionally well. In the case of Simplii however, it’s not a true case of “transformation”, rather a case of transference of ownership. After more than two decades of acting as the financial arm of President’s Choice, Simplii now returns to the fold of bricks-and-mortar banking giant CIBC – it’s ultimate parent.

Let’s hope that better sense will prevail with the new kid on the block. Let’s hope that Simplii continues to retain the best of it’s PC offerings (including lower fees and higher rates), while also moving forward with better and newer innovative products and services.  The President’s Choice Financial Brand still had a lot of value going for it, but aesthetically speaking, its usability was getting a bit stale.  We’d love to see Simplii Financial come charging out of the gates on a shiny new platform, while retaining the value proposition that made PCF such a longtime favourite of cost-conscious Canadians.  We’ll keep this Simplii Financial Review current as the brand and products continue to evolve going forward into 2018.

 

21 Comments

  1. Meyer on November 16, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Those of us that were PC Financial customers now find that withdrawing money at a Lobalws or No Frills now costs a $3 serviv
    ce charge.
    Not what I signed up for.



  2. Ryan on November 17, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Another new benefit to Simplii is that one can now make free Interac e-transfers. Under PC Financial these cost $1.50 each.



  3. Greg on November 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Um, you forgot one important new feature I always wanted PCF to provide…Simplii does free Interac eTranfers…hooray!



  4. Kyle on November 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I was waiting to see if this was finalized Greg – we’ll be sure to get it in the next update!



  5. Ross on November 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    One thing that helps Simplii stand out and appears not to be widely known: Unlimited free Interact transfers to anyone. Even Tangerine charges $1 if you’re transferring to a non-Tangerine customer, so this is a pretty sweet feature if you use it a lot.



  6. Matt on November 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Simplii cannot offer children accounts (under 16 years of age). PC Financial could. It has to do with validation of someone under 16. They use Canada Post for the verification apparently.



  7. Kyle on November 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

    That’s interesting Matt – I’ll add that in on the next update.



  8. Sam N. on December 23, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I would like to point out that Simplii does a credit check every single time you open/request a new product. When I originally signed up I with them, I opened a Chequing account (No overdraft), a saving account, and a personal loan. They did a hard pull on credit report three times in 1 week ! I understand that they need to do that for the personal loan, but why would you want to do that for the saving and chequing account is beyond me



  9. James on January 5, 2018 at 9:47 am

    If you need to call Simplii be prepared to wait for 30+ min. In addition their system is very touchy when it comes to receiving e-transfers i.e. it auto-populates passwords and will not allow you to simply type in your new password until you disable your save password feature on your computer. When I initially opened my PCF account more than a decade ago it was because of all the no fee features they offered. But since then many more players have entered the market and even the big banks are offering more competitive fees and no matter your banking needs everyone will at some point require the services of a bricks and mortar bank i.e. Foreign Currency, Bank Drafts, etc. PCF served me well for many years but I have since found a bricks and mortar bank with a no-fee account so I will be closing my Simplii account in 2018.



  10. Janette on January 18, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    As a new customer, the max daily withdrawal of $200 makes a chequing account absolutely useless. I called to see if the withdrawal limit could be increased, but it can’t for 6 months. I was told that if I wanted to take out a larger sum than $200 then I could call (wait on the phone for 30+ mins) and request a 2 hour opening where I could take out the sum I require. I really don’t feel like doing that every time I do my weekly grocery shopping. Simplii isn’t so simple!



  11. Frank on February 8, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I emptied my PC Financial Account when I learned of the change to Simplii Financial. Since I did not close the account I received my new Simplii card in the mail and I started to rethink my decision. Yesterday while at my PC grocery store I saw a sign that stated that withdrawals from their machine will now cost a fee that will be revealed when you make a withdrawal. Where did my free banking go? Think I will stick to the bricks and mortar as well.



  12. Jake on February 24, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I appreciate the continued affordable services but their customer service needs improvement. Wait times on the phone, as noted above, are ridiculously long. Its frustrating to wait so long to have simple issues dealt with. That’s why we all don’t go to the actual branch anymore and use online banking. Hire some more customer care reps Simplii.



  13. Terry on February 28, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    I was with pc financial for many years. Recently my bank card stopped working so I called simplii financial to report it and to get a new card. I needed it right away so I thought I could get a new one at cibc. Nope !! They told me they have to mail a new one and that was my only option. That’s no way to do banking. I was going to e transfer to a friends account, but after they removed the card from the system I could not do that either. I ended up borrowing money . I’m going to anouther bank. Forget theses guys.



  14. Bern on March 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Ever tried to call these guys? Totally unacceptable for a financial company. Cancelled my online account before activating it.



  15. Donna on March 5, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    My fault for not checking but since the transition to Simpli, they put me into the negative for overdrafts. They told me I was signed up for overdrafts from the start of PC. If I had been, I certainly did not knowingly do it.

    When I was with PC, it not would not allow me to withdraw when I didn’t have money in the account. I will close my account tomorrow once my money has been transferred out.



  16. Keith Burger on March 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I closed my account 3 weeks ago, and I’m still waiting for the refund of my balance.
    What a service!!!!



  17. Anony on March 26, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    SImplii is the worst!

    Will be transferring all accounts to a new provider. I was with PC financial for years…they weren’t the best either but Simplii is a mess.

    They don’t even know how to properly send out forms.



  18. Alex MacMillan on March 31, 2018 at 10:33 am

    CIBC is easily the worst bank of the big six and Simplii Financial is just another mediocre player that isn’t worth the ‘free’ banking they offer.
    The fact is you pay for what you get and when something is indeed costing you nothing you can’t expect much in customer service. Just the other day I lost a BMO debit card so I phoned and cancelled and the next day was able to obtain a replacement at a branch. If I was stuck with Simplii I’d be literally SOL for up to a week waiting for a replacement with no access to funds outside of credit cards.
    That said I had a friend who wanted to open an account with these clowns, went through the verification at Canada Post etc. and then a few days later gets a call from their fraud department literally suggesting he wasn’t who he claimed to be when it was apparent they pulled a credit report that wasn’t his as none of the information he tried to confirm matched. It was Simplii who made the error but rather than admit a mistake they treated him rudely demanding he send in proof of address which he did. Needless to say he never heard a thing back after that so how is that for customer service?



  19. Richard on April 9, 2018 at 7:43 am

    WAS with PC Financial for many years and had great service at a Superstore kiosque nearby. The agents were knowledgeable and were very helpful whenever we had a question. At Simplii, you never really know what your savings are going to be. My wife was offered 2.50 promotion on her savings account and I was only offered 1.75%. After calling 3 times within a month to complain and being told to call back every time because they cannot authorize the rate change that they promised, I am still waiting for a call back. Also, one of their promotions specifically mentions that they will pay a promotion on all new savings accounts. But beware as TFSA is not considered for their savings promotion and instead of getting 2.50 % , you get a measly 1% rate. All of this to say that with other institutions you can see your rate online. Simplii needs to be more transparent and by doing so , we will not have to make so many calls.



  20. Sandra Geldart on April 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Not happy with Simplii no card for husband and now his is turned off. Fees at bank machine and no PC Points, I am going to close the account.



  21. MaryAnne Emery on April 13, 2018 at 9:36 am

    What happened to free banking at a kiosk??? I joined when it was PC financial for the added benefit of easy access to my bank machine in the grocery store.
    Recently tried to make a withdrawal from a Simplii kiosk and it wanted to charge me $3.00
    That is not “free” banking.
    The complete lack of customer support has me looking at switching back to a “real” bank that has actual human beings their to help answer any questions I might have.



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