Surviscor Canadian Consumer Banking Experience Reviews - Canada’s BEST and WORST Online Banking Experiences

Canada's BEST and WORST Online Banking Experiences

RBC Royal Bank provides the BEST Online Banking Experience amongst Canadian digital banking providers

Today's Canadian banking landscape has never been more complex. The big banks continue to hold all peer participants to task yet the amount of retail banking alternatives, and the product that has evolved from the core products, is at an all-time high. The Canadian landscape is flooded with traditional brick and mortar bank branches and credit unions which are now complimented by discounted neo/virtual non-branch offerings. Then throw in the emergence of retail shopping banking services and emerging FinTech financial service offerings based around payment facilities which means a Canadian retail banking customer is faced with many potential suitors and should explore all the options.

The ongoing pandemic pushed the envelope of digital banking alternatives as more and more Canadians turned to online banking services than pre-pandemic levels. To be clear, banking firms tend to speak about its digital services, which includes both online and mobile platforms to choose from, but the reality is that most of the core products and services have long been available through the online banking platforms. The reality is that a good portion of Canadian firms provide poor online banking usage experiences despite the popularity and importance within the full digital delivery channels available to consumers. RBC Royal Bank continues to dominate, and Meridian Credit Union has moved into the top credit union spot.

This is Surviscor's 13th year analyzing online banking experiences and our advice to Canadians remains the same. Question the status-quo, explore alternative relationships by doing some homework and beware the marketing messages that typically are so minor in nature that its like lipstick on a pig. The good news is Surviscor has done the experience homework at the lowest level of experiences known in North America. All that is left is the math.

Go to Lessons Learned

Go to The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category - A Snapshot

Go to Online Features and Functionality Insights

Go to Surviscor Canadian Online Banking Rankings


Surviscor Online Banking Rankings - By Firm Types

The Canadian Online Banking Experience Review audits 25 Canadian digital banking firms including the big 6 banks, 7 leading credit unions and 1 co-operative, 6 popular neo (branchless) banks and 5 other popular firms that identify as banks or a co-operative movement. In each case, each firm offers a banking platform designed to be used on a desktop or laptop computer. The audit took place in October and November 2021 and evaluated each firm by analyzing over 400 individual usage criteria. The criteria are derived using over 3400 objective questions per firm to establish the best experiences over 5 main categories made up of 22 sub-categories. Here's a breakdown by types:

BIG BANKS RANKINGS

Industry Online RankBanking FirmExperience ScoreDetailed Company Review
1RBC ROYAL BANK99 %Full Analysis
2SCOTIABANK93 %Full Analysis
3CIBC90 %Full Analysis
4BMO BANK of MONTREAL89 %Full Analysis
6TD CANADA TRUST84 %Full Analysis
T-7NATIONAL BANK of CANADA79 %Full Analysis

RBC Royal Bank continues to separate itself in terms of online banking, scoring an impressive 99% peer relativity score and a 6% score differential between themselves and #2 Scotiabank. RBC managed a top firm ranking in 3 of the 5 categories and managed to win 6 overall sub-category honours out of the 22 available. The difference between RBC and the other firms is not the overall look and feel but the depth of experience provided within each activity and the breadth of information available.


CREDIT UNION and CO-OPERATIVE RANKINGS

Industry Online RankFirm NameExperience ScoreDetailed Company Review
5DESJARDINS (Quebec-based CO-OPERATIVE)85 %Full Analysis
T-7MERIDIAN CREDIT UNION79 %Full Analysis
9COAST CAPITAL SAVINGS78 %Full Analysis
T-13CONEXUS CREDIT UNION69 %Full Analysis
T-16ALTERNA SAVINGS60 %Full Analysis
T-16BLUESHORE FINANCIAL60 %Full Analysis
T-18VANCITY59 %Full Analysis
T-18SERVUS CREDIT UNION59 %Full Analysis

This grouping has 2 winners as there is a fine line between a co-operative and a credit union, one that makes the other angry when they are grouped together. Desjardins is the co-operative and its Quebec-based offering ranks 5th overall and it is not to be mistaken with its credit union business outside of Quebec. The top credit union is Ontario-based Meridian Credit Union, slightly edging-out the past winner Vancouver-based Coast Capital Savings. Most credit unions are now acquiring federal licenses so they can offer services outside of the head office jurisdictions. The issue we see if that competition is fierce amongst the credit unions due the amount of them yet, there is little differentiation between them when it comes to digital services.


NEO / VIRTUAL BANKS RANKINGS

Industry Online RankFirm NameExperience ScoreDetailed Company Review
10MOTUSBANK75 %Full Analysis
11TANGERINE74 %Full Analysis
T-13SIMPLII FINANCIAL69 %Full Analysis
20MOTIVE FINANCIAL58 %Full Analysis
22PC FINANCIAL50 %Full Analysis
23EQ BANK48 %Full Analysis

motusbank, which is owned by Meridian Credit Union, is now the neo/virtual bank leader with a slight edge over the long-standing leader Tangerine, which is owned by Scotiabank. Not all the firms in this category are discount offerings owned by another banking firm but typically they are division of larger firms and are meant to be a niche offering. The sad part is how poor most of the firms perform, even in the individual areas of concentration they live in and supposedly excel in. For a better look at how the discount firm ranks and score, go to the Two Brands, One Parent Company - The Dual Offerings section. #BuyerBeware


OTHER FIRMS RANKINGS

Industry Online RankFirm NameExperience ScoreDetailed Company Review
12ATB FINANCIAL70 %Full Analysis
15HSBC CANADA66 %Full Analysis
24LAURENTIAN BANK of CANADA44 %Full Analysis
25MANULIFE BANK of CANADA41 %Full Analysis

The last grouping of firms are mostly big and recognizable names by most Canadians except for ATB Financial, an Alberta-based government-owned financial institution, that is popular in Alberta. The group does not perform well despite ATB's 12th place ranking and HSBC Canada's 15th place ranking. All 4 firms have big names and loyal customers which is maybe why we rarely see any digital changes. #LoyaltyMeansLess


Financial services are often viewed by consumers as long-term relationships without the need to ever consider a different firm to trust with their hard-earned money. They all do the basics, but consumers need to demand better experiences as there are a lot of options and most could do better with other relationships.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


Go to The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category - A Snapshot

Go to Online Features and Functionality Insights

Go to Surviscor Canadian Online Banking Rankings

Go to The Bottom Line - Demand Excellence


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm


Lessons Learned

Profits Continue to Soar but Little Digital Re-Investment

Not many firms can say that they have made any online-based improvements in the past year which is evident with a mostly similar looking overall ranking from the past 2 years. Last year we attributed the lack of development improvements to the COVID pandemic but there are no excuses this year. The big Canadian banks continue to make huge profit gains year-to-year but fail to re-invest in providing better digital experiences to its customers despite pushing everyone to those areas. Credit Unions are no different and can't be left out of the disappointment.

Big Banks Continue to Dominate. Others Lag

It's a different year but it's the same message. The big 6 banks continue to dominate the online banking space despite Desjardins and Meridian Credit Union deciding to crash the party. The results are less about the banks continuing to improve but rather the lack of commitment to increasing the online experiences amongst the neo/virtual banks, other big-name banks and the credit union system.

Off the Grid Credit Unions Compete. System-based Firms Lag

There are now 2 credit unions in the top 10 and they both have an important distinction that is important to note. Both Meridian Credit Union and Coast Capital Savings no longer rely on the system, primarily run by Central 1, for design and customer-facing interfaces and have broken off and spent money on third-party vendors to help with user experience. The rest of the credit unions under review, along with other firms like Motive Financial, Alterna Bank and even Laurentian Bank, rely on either an antiquated MemberDirect platform or the new Forge system which has missed the mark despite a big spend.

Neo/Virtual Banks are usually not everything they are marketed as

We continue year to year to ask you how many times have you turned on your computer, tablet or phone and are presented an ad and/or editorial piece on how great the newest non-branch, or neo/virtual bank, is? The point never gets old as this is very real. Social platforms and paid influencers can make a nuts and bolts offering appear to be leading-edge, but the firms are designed with lower fees and competitive rates to influence asset gathering to potentially sell a bigger financial item, like a mortgage, at a future date. To say theses firms, offer the best online banking experience is simply not factual and Canadians should take note with their hard-earned money.

Auto-Deposits are generally misunderstood and could be dangerous

Each banking firm likes to market the fact that a customer can setup an auto-deposit for all its email-based money transfers, but if an online banking consumer has an account at RBC Royal Bank and one at Tangerine, Interac, who runs the system for every financial institution in Canada, will only associate one email address with one firm. In a world of identity theft, an ongoing concern is that this functionality makes consumers lazy as the sharing of the information with a third-party, in this case Interac who makes the magic happen, means account information is not held solely within the financial institutions' security measures.

Go to Online Features and Functionality Insights

Go to Surviscor Canadian Online Banking Rankings


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category - A Snapshot

All Surviscor scorCard reviews are comprised of hundreds of individual experience criteria that are then grouped into sub-categories and ultimately into larger categories to round-out the analysis. The Online Banking review has 5 main categories that make up the overall rankings and the following table identifies the top 2 and bottom 2 firms in each category. In each case, clicking on the firm name will send you to the Full Company Review for a more complete picture while allowing you to keep reading here.

While only 2 firms are identified as the worst firms in each category, it is important to draw attention to firms that consistently perform at the bottom of the experience scale across each category under review. The reality is that each one of these firms has many customers and, more importantly, those customers trust each of these firms with their hard-earned money and in turn trust that the firm will provide the best possible digital platforms for their banking needs. In these cases, customers should question the relationship:

  • MANULIFE BANK - No better than a 23rd ranking in any category
  • EQ BANK - No better than a 22nd ranking in any category
  • LAURENTIAN BANK of CANADA - No better than a 20th ranking in any category
  • ALTERNA BANK - No better than a 19th ranking in any category

It is important to keep in mind that the depth of any Surviscor review translates to an environment of tough marking and firms being required to earn rankings. Ranks are not given to firms by sponsored ghost writers or false marketing pieces and messages. In addition to being tough, Surviscor will also give credit where credit is due. The hope is that all Canadian self-directed and DIY investors hold each discount brokerage firm accountable to the highest standards of customer experience and platform functionality.


It's never a bad time for Canadians to re-assess their banking relationships to ensure they are banking where it makes sense and its time for younger consumers to look for better solutions and not be swayed by all the marketing and paid reviews.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


Go to Surviscor Canadian Online Banking Rankings

Go to The Bottom Line - Demand Excellence


Online Features and Functionality Insights

Features rolls better off the tongue with Functionality following it but the reality is Functionality is the core banking item of importance and Features represent the level of support built around the core functionality. Why highlight it? Because it is the key message to understand how firms differentiate from others through features when the same core functionality exists amongst all firms. Think about it, every firm reviewed has a login page, bill payment capabilities, and an area to see account history so how do we differentiate one from another? It's easy, the better firms design surrounding features to enhance a user experience with the functionality and that is what consumers should look for. #NotAllFirmsAreEqual

Yes, it can be very confusing. Why do you really care if your current experience is ok? You should because this is the reason why Surviscor does what it does so you don't have to. The following summary highlights some of the newer functionality and features (see what we did there?) trends to help you see if you firm is at least keeping up with the best firms:

Look for Digital Appointments and Online Booking Systems

The COVID pandemic drove face-to-face to video conferencing to the forefront of both personal and business relationships. The reality of strong financial services relationships is that at some point in time a customer would like to sit in front of a real person and the bank would love that too as it opens cross-selling opportunities. Progressive banks offer online booking systems that feature interactive engagement features that allow customers, or non-customers, to arrange a meeting with a stated agenda at a chosen time and date.

Demand Third Party Account Access

Say hello to a moderate version of the future of Open Banking. Today, it is normal for a bank to allow a customer to have access to an account held at another financial institution. At minimum, access allows a user to see balances and incorporate those balances into a consolidated financial picture, but the newer features allow for easy cash movements, both incoming and outgoing. Again, the best firms have advanced features that allow the process to be set-up online while the basic firms require paper-based requests.

Demand Online Card Management Services

Online card management is fast becoming a staple for firms and leading firms provide the capabilities for both account access debit cards as well as credit cards. The basic service allows a user to change account level usage, including on/off capabilities and transaction limits, and more advanced features allow locational use and travel notifications.

Financial Health credit scores via Online Banking

Financial health, or primarily known as Credit Scores, is now available through many online banking platforms at no cost. The third-party partnerships have followed the credit card platforms by allowing customers to request and monitor their credit scores while signed-in to online banking. As usual with all functionalities, some offer more supporting features than others like allowing users to setup alerts when pertinent changes are identified, or new scores are released.

Educational and Account Resources continue to disappoint

With each review comes the hope that more firms will realize the impact of having as many online resources as possible. The larger firms have managed to slowly incorporate tools, calculators and videos into their public sites but have, in most cases, dropped the ball when offering a limited content within the secure site. The best firms provide well-designed and key Centresfor all key content that enhances the user experience and successful use of the information.


Go to Surviscor Canadian Online Banking Rankings

Go to The Bottom Line - Demand Excellence


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm


Two Brands, One Parent Company - The Dual Offerings

The pure definition of Dual is two parts, elements, or aspects. Dual offerings exist in many businesses and the sperate brands are used to differentiate complete traditional offerings from discounted offerings. Air Canada has Air Canada Rouge. Telus has Koodo. In Canadian banking, personal service through branches is the differentiator. Discounted digital banking solutions , once known as niche offerings and now referred to as Neo Banks, are not new to Canada. They have been around for over two decades and have taken on different ownership shapes and sizes over the years. Originally the niche offerings offered targeted product and services that were meant to undercut the traditional bank offerings with better rates and fees and attract the newer, more digital savvy, banking customer with less product solutions at reduced cost or increased savings.

The most notable firm was ING Direct, a Dutch bank that entered Canada with targeted solutions and was eventually bought by Scotiabank and is now Tangerine Bank, its alternative solution maintaining the popular orange branding that made ING Direct identifiable. The other early discount offering was PC Financial that was an original joint venture between CIBC and Loblaws, designed to offer targeted services to Loblaws customers with in-store branches. The marriage ended a few years back with CIBC re-labelling the platform Simplii Financial while PC Financial is now an independent offering. The issue today is that the newer firms are labelling themselves as FinTech solutions which in most cases, couldn't be further from the truth. #BewareFinTechLabels

Discount Does Not Mean FinTech

A branchless banking offering is essentially a virtual solution and have been labelled by large consulting firms and the media as Neo Banks. The issues come from that point as many of the dual offering firms refer to its virtual platform as its Fintech solution and will even stretch that label into its FinTech division. In a nutshell, the term FinTech represents the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services that uses technology to improve activities in finance. In theory, online banking was, and still is, FinTech. It was then replaced with mobile-based solutions, which are based, in most cases, off the online platforms. Where does this end? The bottom line is that any digital banking solution could be labelled as FinTech and that doesn't mean that those firms are smarter and progressive than other like firms. #DiscountNotFinTech

Is the Allure about Cost, Choice or Something Else?

The world is now all about offering consumers cheaper solutions for traditional products and services and the ongoing debate continues to be whether the offerings are about being more cost effective for the consumer or the actual firm. The newer debate then takes the discussion to the next level and asks if the reason consumers gravitate to the offerings is because they love the ability to choose how they do business with firms. It is safe to assume that it is a combination of both, but as digital services move forward, a newer trend of doing business with non-traditional firms seems to be in play as firms use new brands to get the new business in the door. #ItsTheSameFirm

Firms Chase the New Banking Customer with Less but Make it Sound Like More

The Less Means More trend, or message, is popping up in all Surviscor's digital financial services' platform reviews regardless of the service being banking or brokerage. Frankly, it is concerning, and somewhat embarrassing to the newer banking customer or investor, that the message being interpreted by the firms is that the newer customer wants less functionality and features. No, they want less cost and more choice and the only way the firms can comply is to offer less functionality with reduced features. The real question is why can't a traditional bank or credit union simply offer more competitive rates and fees using its traditional brand? That's where the customer manipulation rears its ugly head. #?LessMeansMore?

The Dual Offerings - True Offerings and Imposters

The following table narrows in on the dual offerings focusing on the rankings associated with the so-called FinTech offering that we now understand is really a scaled-back, discounted offering, not some technological savvy and advanced platform. In all cases, the newer customer is being drawn into the family using the imposter brand and at some point, will most likely use both the traditional and discount platforms. The results:

Firm (Parent)Firm Rank (Parent)Firm Score (Parent)Link to Full Analysis
MOTUSBANK (Meridian Credit Union)10th (7th)75 % (79 %)Full Analysis
TANGERINE (Scotiabank)11th (2nd)74 % (93 %)Full Analysis
SIMPLII FINANCIAL (CIBC)14th (3rd)69 % (90 %)Full Analysis
MOTIVE FINANCIAL (CDN Western Bank)20th (n/a)58 % (n/a)Full Analysis
ALTERNA BANK (Alterna Savings)21st (16th)54 % (60 %)Full Analysis

Surviscor Online Banking Rankings - Canadian Firms

Online Experience RankBanking FirmExperience ScoreDetailed Company Review
1RBC ROYAL BANK99 %Full Analysis
2SCOTIABANK93 %Full Analysis
3CIBC90 %Full Analysis
4BMO BANK of MONTREAL89 %Full Analysis
5DESJARDINS (Quebec-based CO-OPERATIVE)85 %Full Analysis
6TD CANADA TRUST84 %Full Analysis
T-7MERIDIAN CREDIT UNION79 %Full Analysis
T-7NATIONAL BANK of CANADA79 %Full Analysis
9COAST CAPITAL SAVINGS78 %Full Analysis
10MOTUSBANK75 %Full Analysis
11TANGERINE74 %Full Analysis
12ATB FINANCIAL70 %Full Analysis
T-13CONEXUS CREDIT UNION69 %Full Analysis
T-13SIMPLII FINANCIAL69 %Full Analysis
15HSBC CANADA66 %Full Analysis
T-16ALTERNA SAVINGS60 %Full Analysis
T-16BLUESHORE FINANCIAL60 %Full Analysis
T-18SERVUS CREDIT UNION59 %Full Analysis
T-18VANCITY59 %Full Analysis
20MOTIVE FINANCIAL58 %Full Analysis
21ALTERNA BANK54 %Full Analysis
22PC FINANCIAL50 %Full Analysis
23EQ BANK48 %Full Analysis
24LAURENTIAN BANK of CANADA44 %Full Analysis
25MANULIFE BANK of CANADA41 %Full Analysis

Back to Lessons Learned

Back to The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category - A Snapshot

Back to Online Features and Functionality Insights


THE BOTTOM LINE - Demand Excellence

Everybody knows that Canadian banks make money hand over fist and even through the darkest of times like a world-wide pandemic. Credit Unions have a slightly more difficult time but turn to consolidations to compete while foreign banks continue to see opportunity. Then the amount of neo/virtual bank offerings and the emergence of disruptive FinTech financial solutions indicates it's time to see all these Canadian firms give back by building better designed platforms that allow breadth of product with enhanced features rather than limiting experiences. At the end of the day, the big banks continue to dominate online experiences, most credit unions are stuck within a decade of broken national IT structure and the newer neo/virtual banks are simply missing the mark. #DemandExcellence


Learn More about Canadian Digital Banking Experiences

Canadian Mobile Banking Rankings: Canada's BEST and WORST Mobile Banking Experiences - Rankings and Results

Service Experience Rankings: Canadian Banking Service Level Experience Rankings


Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm