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Canada has a well developed banking system and a thriving financial services sector. Banks, credit unions, caisses populaires, credit card providers, and insurance companies operate in the country.

Banks in Canada

There are small second tier financial institutions and large banks such as Toronto-Dominion, CIBC, and BMO. The big banks offer more products than small financial establishments and have offices and branches across the country. They also boast a well developed network of ATMs. Some financial institutions also have international subsidiaries. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, for example, has over 4,000 bank machines and 1,000 branches. Customers are offered the full array of services, along with internet and phone banking. The Bank of Montreal also offers basic accounts, loan products, and more complex investment and lending solutions, along with corporate solutions and wealth management services. BMO serves over 12 million institutional, business, and individual customers around the world. Customers are offered tax planning advice, insurance products, wealth planning, investment management, trust services, and many others.

Types of Banks and Services Offered

Canadian financial establishments offer the full array of products and services such as brokerage, credit cards, mutual funds, mortgages, personal and business loans, and more. There are different types of institutions, including specialized, investment, commercial, and retail banks. Commercial banks, for example, serve individual clients and small and large businesses and offer
lockbox services, letters and lines of credit, and checking and savings accounts. They also specialize in transaction and payment processing, loan products, and foreign exchange services. Retail banks are another variety that offers basic services such as car and consumer loans, mortgages, certificates of deposits, and savings and checking accounts. There are also investment banks that focus on equities, derivatives, market making, currencies, and fixed income instruments. Credit card companies offer financial products such as low interest, rewards, travel, no annual fee, and other types of cards. There are also online banks that feature attractive interest rates on savings accounts and loans.

Banks can be divided into public and private sector. The latter are controlled, managed, run, and owned by private owners. The Bank of Canada is an example of a Crown corporation that functions to ensure that the country’s financial system is safe, sound, and stable. Among the main responsibilities are to issue currency, control inflation, and promote a functioning financial system, responsible decision making, and financial stability.

Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires

Credit unions often offer lower interest rates on loans, mortgages, and other products. They also offer attractive interest rates on savings accounts. Unions are owned by their members which makes them a form of financial cooperative. The main difference between unions and mainstream banking institutions is the more personalized banking experience. They are non-for-profit institutions that function to serve their members. Unions offer an array of financial products and services such as personal loans, checking accounts, online banking services, certificates of deposit, credit cards, and many others. There are many credit unions in Canada – First Calgary Financial, Steinbach, First West, Meridian, Coast Capital Savings, and so on. Caisses populaires are financial institutions that offer investment products, loans, insurance policies, and other products. They also accept deposits. Most caisses populaires are found in Quebec. Desjardins Group is an example of a federation of financial institutions in New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, and Ontario.