MONTREAL - The top executive at CIBC announced Thursday that he plans to retire in about two years -- effective April 30, 2016.

Gerry McCaughey's retirement plan was announced shortly before the beginning of CIBC's annual meeting, which is being held this year in Montreal.

McCaughey, who has been CIBC's president and chief executive since August 2005, said he wanted to give the Toronto-based bank's board of directors time to complete a smooth succession -- a normal practice in the Canadian banking sector.

His time at the head of CIBC (TSX:CM), one of Canada's biggest banks, has been a period of relative stability compared with the tumultuous period preceeding McCaughey's promotion to the top management job.

Under McCaughey, CIBC focused on its core businesses -- exiting some of the areas that had been volatile during a boom-and-bust period that included the dot-com and Enron meltdowns.

Recently, McCaughey helped CIBC navigate through a potentially difficult situation with the bank's Aeroplan credit card business -- a long-standing and historically profitable relationship with Air Canada's loyalty points system.