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Serving small business is no small matter.

Most businesses in Canada are small — 99%, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) — and small business owners require a variety of services, including banking, investment and retiring planning, and financing.

Which bank is serving the most small business owners? Royal Bank of Canada, according to the CFIB’s latest survey of small-business banking market share, released on Wedneday.

RBC held its top spot in the survey, with 20% of market share. It’s the only Big Five bank to gain ground since the last survey in 2015 when it had 18.5% of market share. Over three decades, however, the bank’s share of small-business banking exhibits an overall downward trend, after holding about 24% of the market in 1982.

Scotiabank maintained its spot in second place with 17% of market share in 2019. That figure is up more than 50% since 2000. The survey found that Scotiabank leads among businesses with five employees or fewer.

TD took third spot at about 15% market share, a decline from about 16.5% in the last survey. In 1982, the bank had about 11% market share.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) continued its steady decline in market share, going to less than 9% in 2019 from 20% in 1982.

In a release on Wednesday, CIBC pointed to efforts to improve its position in the small-business space. The bank said it had added to its ranks 200 “business banking specialists” in key markets in the last 18 months, and plans to add more in 2020.

Bank of Montreal also saw its share of the small-business banking market decline, holding just over 9%. That’s down from almost 11% in 2015 and 15% in 1982.

Over its many years of tracking small-business banking, the federation has found that credit unions and regional banks have increased their market share — potentially indicating, at least in part, the importance of personalized service.

Credit unions more than tripled their market share since 1982 to 12% in 2019.

Despite the demonstrated long-term increase in growth, credit unions’ share of small-business banking has held close to 11% to 12% since 2006. One challenge for credit unions is that their market share tends to decrease as a business’s number of employees increases, the survey found.

The survey’s category of “other” institutions exhibited the greatest increase in market share since the last survey, reaching 18% in 2019 from 15% in 2015. The category includes small or regional banks such as Desjardins in Quebec and ATB Financial in Alberta.

Such regional institutions are “often seen as better able to understand their community’s needs,” said CFIB in a release.

For full details, read the CFIB small-business bank market share report.

About the survey: The CFIB National Banking, Financing and Payments survey was conducted from April 9 to July 29, 2019, and is based on a sample of 11,599 Canadian small-business owners.