Only a financial organization operating with BMO’s “One Bank” approach can navigate the diverse challenges of today’s business world. BMO is Canada’s oldest incorporated bank—and BCBusiness caught up with its B.C. & Yukon executive team to speak to their expertise on leadership, wealth management,investment expansion, corporate finance and capital sourcing. It is clear that BMO’s ability to rally the various partners within the team for the common good of the customer is both a strategic advantage and a catalyst for this business to “punch above its weight”
Michael Bonner, Senior Vice-President & Regional Head, B.C. & Yukon Division, BMO Financial Group
Q: You’ve led teams across the country, from Halifax to Toronto and Vancouver—what crucial components inspire them?
MB: It doesn’t matter the geography or the business; my view is people are people and for the most part people want to be successful, be immersed in a great culture and be part of something bigger.
Michael BonnerI think any good leader wants to be able to inspire people so that they may unlock their potential and achieve optimum performance. It’s good for them personally, for their organ-ization and, of course, for customers. The world has changed. Our employees don’t honestly care what your title is or where you are in the hierarchy. They want you to inspire, be authentic, lead by example instead of from an office, and show them appreciation.
Many senior people expect that employees will follow them because of their title, or their place in the organization’s hierarchy; but all good leaders should strive to develop a bond so strong that not only will their people follow their lead in business, but follow it into different parts of an organization or maybe even different parts of the country.
Jennifer Muench, Senior Vice-President, BMO Private Banking, British Columbia
Q: What are the best tax-efficient solutions to protect wealth?
JM: A concept we commonly discuss is the use of a permanent insurance policy as an investment—such as carving out a portion of surplus/investable capital that has already been earmarked for the next generation—to take advantage of the significant tax benefits provided for insurance policies versus taxable non-registered investing.
Jennifer MuenchTransferring a portion of the surplus cash flow/assets to a permanent life insurance policy will reduce future taxable income by accessing the tax-deferred growth of an exempt policy. Upon death, these accumulated sums can then be transferred tax efficiently to heirs, since the death benefit of the policy can be paid to an individual’s beneficiaries tax-free.
Alternatively, in the case of a corporate-owned policy, the funds can be paid to the corporation tax-free, after which all, or a significant portion, of the proceeds can be distributed as a tax-free dividend to the shareholder’s estate.
Michael Wood, Senior Vice-President, Managing Director & Regional Manager, Western Canada, BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.
Q: You’ve witnessed—and orchestrated—expansions in investment advisory and financial planning businesses. How is this landscape changing?
Michael WoodMW: There are five drivers of change: technological advancement; regulatory requirements; an aging demographic; increasing expectations of clients; and the competitive environment—the latter pertaining to the fact that we now compete with the likes of Google and Amazon.
This is tremendously exciting because our resources have enabled us to adapt to these changes. As a result, what we offer clients is substantially different from the old days when typically the focus would be on building investment portfolios.
Specifically, as fully integrated investment advisors, we provide a one-stop shop for our clients for all their financial affairs, whether it be credit needs, insurance or estate planning. We’re making it easy for clients to do business with us in the way they want to do business.
Andrew Hung, Head, Corporate Finance, B.C. Division, BMO Corporate Finance Division
Q: What are the challenges you face in such a competitive market?
Andrew HungAH: For me, the key opportunity is to make banking simple so our clients
can focus on building their business, accelerating their plans and ultimately being successful. In B.C., businesses are not always linear and many have needs that cover a wide spectrum from everyday operations, growth capital, real estate and international trade.
With that in mind, our group represents 13 lines of businesses presented to the market as a unified platform, where we put the customer at the centre of everything we do. One thing to note: as a North American bank with full cross-border capabilities to the U.S., my team can support our customers into the U.S. and open up new markets. All this can’t be achieved overnight, so we do take the long view in our relationships with the aim to grow and support our clients over time.
Jamie Rogers, Managing Director, Head of Investment & Corporate Banking, British Columbia Global Co-Head Metals & Mining
Q: Capital sourcing is so global now—what do clients need to be mindful of?
Jamie RogersJR: There is no doubt that access to capital has become much more global in nature for our clients.
With such an increasing reach and speed at which capital is able to move comes more volatility and our clients are increasingly looking at ways to mitigate the risk to, and impact on, their strategic growth plans. As well, they are looking to manage their own capital structures effectively and—more importantly—to rely more than ever on their banking and capital markets partners to operate efficiently and successfully navigate ever-evolving global capital markets.
BMO has been around since 1817 and has been an integral part of Canada’s history—it financed the Canadian Pacific Railway and is Canada’s first bank. The future for BMO, its dynamic leadership team and 45,000 employees across Canada and the U.S. looks bright as the bank continues to evolve and meet new opportunities to give customers the products, services and advice they need to meet and exceed their financial goals. They started this and it’s clear by their intensity that they're here to stay.