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Small Business Gets the Banking Attention and Service It Needs

BCBusiness + BMO Bank of Montreal BMO recognizes what's missing and prioritizes service


BCBusiness + BMO Bank of Montreal

James Li, the owner of Hypersecu Information Systems Inc., says BMO helped his business transition when he came to Vancouver


BMO recognizes what’s missing and prioritizes service

Michael Bonner, Senior Vice-president and Regional Head B.C. & Yukon Division with BMO Bank of Montreal, is unusually candid about the services large financial institutions offer small businesses. “Small business represents a huge underserved market for us,” he says.

Underserved because in the past, most banks divided customers into one of two categories: consumer or commercial, a standardized approach serving the former
and a bespoke approach serving the latter—with neither approach having changed in decades.

Bonner notes that the consumer approach is too generalized to truly meet small-business needs, and the commercial approach is slowed by manual processes. “As a result, something like getting a loan was like trying to eat soup with a fork for small business owners.”

 Fintech companies have been aggressive in trying to fill the gap, but BMO realizes
 the significant importance of small business to the economy and has made it a key priority focus. “Knowing there is no single solution, we have taken a comprehensive approach that spans people, process, platform, policy and product,” says Bonner.

For example, BMO built a distinctly small-business approach to financing, made possible by its business, technology and risk teams working together, as well as creating a new lending platform. “This approach leverages key aspects of both retail and commercial lending methodologies, however it’s right-sized for our small-business clients to create a simple and fast lending experience,” says Bonner, adding that the lending platform will have the ability to adjudicate loans on the same day, as opposed to weeks.

That’s not all. “We also recognize that giving small-business clients the choice to interact with us through multiple channels—branch, mobile/online, contact centre, or relationship manager as well as remotely and digitally—is incredibly important,” says Bonner.

All of these initiatives are well appreciated by clients such as James Li, the owner of Hypersecu Information Systems Inc. A longtime personal client of BMO, Li began using the bank to help launch his information and security systems company while still a resident in China. “With their help, I was ready to go the moment I settled in Vancouver, which was a tremendous benefit,” he says.

Since Hypersecu’s launch in 2009, Li has viewed BMO as a partner that has helped facilitate growth. “They are constantly in touch to see how I’m doing and how they can help,” he says. “To give one example, it’s very hard as a small-business owner to obtain a corporate credit card—usually you have to use your personal credit cards. But when I mentioned this to my account manager one day, I was provided with a corporate card within two weeks.”

Although Li’s success to date has meant he doesn’t yet need a loan, he says he “wouldn’t hesitate to approach BMO—and I know the process would be trouble-free.”

As far as Bonner is concerned, while BMO is making great strides in properly serving small business, its work is far from over.  “A combination of us getting it right in all areas will create a compelling and sustained value proposition for our small business clients,” he says. “We’re on the right track—and we’re determined to further improve our relationship with them.”

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with BMO Bank of Montreal