‘Being a pure banker doesn’t work’ to service ag, tech and health sectors

Bankers and credit officers need deep, specialised knowledge to really serve clients in these challenging industries, says BMO Business's Dev Srinivasan

October 19, 2018

The Bank of Montreal takes a customised approach in industries such as agriculture, healthcare, technology and innovation, explains Dev Srinivasan, BMO Financial Group’s Head of Canadian Business Banking. These are industries where clients value – and demand – a high degree of specialisation. He explains what makes these sectors unique, and how BMO Business has adapted its service model to meet and exceed client expectations.

This is the second part of a three part interview: in part one Dev explains how BMO Business is accelerating its services to match pace with a digitally transformed environment; then in part three he talks about BMO’s five business beliefs, and how they’ve improved client relationships.

Dev Srinivasan: BMO Business banking really takes a customised approach in industries where our clients value and demand that type of specialisation.

So in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, technology and innovation – we take a specialised approach where we have bankers and credit officers who are very deep in the space, to ensure that one: we’re serving clients in the way they want to, giving them the type of service they need; and also structuring deals in a way that is relevant in their market.

So in terms of how we’re servicing these clients in each of those sectors, there’s many commonalities. I’ll start with agriculture though. Just being a pure banker doesn’t work in that industry. So our clients in the ag sector really want someone who is one, knowledgeable about the industry, for sure; but also two, is local in the community. We’re fiercely local. We give back to the communities, which our clients value. We also understand the dynamic in the local industry. It’s not about the macro in a lot of cases, it’s about understanding the local market. That’s a huge differentiator for us, and a reason why we are the number one agriculture bank in Canada.

In areas like healthcare and technology and innovation, which are less asset-rich, it’s all about: okay, what are the structures that are appropriate for these industries? And what is the risk associated with it? Because certain areas are higher risk, so you need to structure differently; others are lower risk.

So, really understanding the nuances, and getting that structure right, to ensure that you’re pushing up to our risk appetite, in terms of how we’re dealing with these clients is incredibly important and a differentiator in the market.

BMO Business banking absolutely sees its clients as partners. We have a mantra within the bank, that the Bank of Montreal is an incredibly strong partner for our clients. And we really view it as, we’re jointly looking to make sure our clients succeed.

Another thing that we really stick true on is, we’re great in good times; but we’re even better when challenging times arise.

We’re not the bank that goes away when cashflow is tight. We’re the bank that leans further into that, and really supports our clients. Once we’re committed to you, we’re definitely committed to you.