‘Owning a business is an act of courage’ – BMO’s beliefs drive its service

Dev Srinivasan explains BMO's five business beliefs, and how they have improved the way the bank relates to its clients

October 19, 2018

BMO Business banking sees its clients as partners, says Dev Srinivasan – and to deliver best service, the bank’s relationship managers need to consistently put themselves in their clients’ shoes. To help connect with clients and reinforce relationships, BMO developed five business beliefs – Dev explains what these are, and how they’ve helped build stronger partnerships.

This is the final 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 two he discusses the customised approach that BMO takes to serving business clients in the agriculture, healthcare, and technology sectors.

Dev Srinivasan: The Bank of Montreal has five business beliefs that we adhere to. And the five business beliefs are:

One – owning a business is an act of courage. We understand that it’s a lonely process, and taking that leap, to go out and do something on your own, is a huge step that we admire, and we look to support.

The second is that the choice of bank can be one of the most consequential a business owner can make.

If you think about it, a strong bank, a strong relationship manager, can be the difference between outsize growth or stagnant growth. The difference between bankruptcy and continuing on and passing the business on to your children.

The third is – a relationship manager that acts as an order taker is short-changing their clients.

We want our relationship managers to add value in every situation. It’s not about just taking orders, running back and processing the deal. This is all about challenging – in a constructive way – our clients, and ensuring that we’re bringing the best solution forward for them.

The fourth business belief that we have is – that clients hate surprises and silence. One of the things that I live by, and I know a lot of people in the business bank do, is: if a client is asking you, ‘Hey, just checking in on where this is at?’ you have failed as a banker.

This is all about ensuring that you’re proactively communicating with our clients, ensuring that they’re up to speed, and that they’re comfortable with where we’re going.

Finally, the fifth belief that we have, is that – earlier conversations lead to better options and outcomes.

So great for instance in this is that we have brilliant clients, who have driven huge success in their business. But typically, we often see that they haven’t thought about business succession. So, what do they do when they want to step back from the business? Do you pass it on to your family, are you looking to sell it?

Having that sort of discussion in terms of succession, passing the business on, is something you need to have five or 10 years in advance to truly prepare well for it. It’s actually a gap that we’ve seen, so we really encourage our relationship managers and our clients to have those conversations early, making sure that they’re best prepared to maximise value, ensure their family is well taken care of, and ensure the business remains as an ongoing concern.

These beliefs have really changed the way we work with our clients in a number of ways. One, it ups the bar. It sets the bar in terms of what the standard is for a great client experience. What is the BMO standard for a great client experience – and we’re able to deliver that consistently throughout the country.

In terms of our clients, it really explains to them why banking is not a commodity. It’s easy to look at products and services and say they’re all the same. The way we deliver it, the way we’re able to articulate our value proposition is a true differentiator for us, and our clients have really responded to that.