Canada Business Report 2017

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Discovery Reports

BMO plays pivotal role in bridging business in Asia and North America

Bank of Montreal optimistic about opportunities in China and expands wealth-management services across Asia

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 5:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 5:36pm

Only a few institutions can say that they were there when a nation came into being, or more precisely, that they helped fund the building of a nation. Bank of Montreal (BMO) played a central role in the development of many of Canada’s significant institutions, financial systems and infrastructure projects.

As enterprising merchants who understood the importance of banking to business, BMO’s founders were industry pioneers, who not only issued Canada’s first uniform currency and funded the first railway; they also shaped Canada’s banking industry.

BMO has also been forming relationships in China for almost as long as it’s been in business, and the bank has been in business for a long time – 200 years to be exact. Three months after its opening in November 1817, BMO engaged in its first foreign exchange transaction when it supported China’s trade business in Boston. Since then, BMO has been playing a pivotal role in bridging businesses in Asia and North America.

As the only Canadian bank and one of only five North American banks that have incorporated a fully licensed subsidiary in mainland China, BMO in Asia seeks to define great customer experience by connecting Asia and North America, including linking Canadian companies to Asian markets. It introduces groundbreaking innovations in banking that ensure clients have access to products and counter-parties worldwide. From opening Canada’s first drive-in bank to launching North America’s first full-service internet banking system, BMO has been at the forefront of banking technology, and making banking easier for customers.

Our strong presence in Hong Kong and Singapore aligns very well with our offices in mainland China, so we can easily serve customers globally
Albert Yu, CEO-Asia, BMO Financial Group

“We like to help clients develop their capabilities as they go to a new place,” says Albert Yu, CEO-Asia, BMO Financial Group. “We offer consistency and we support them through the long journey.”

Following the positive GDP growth numbers and the implementation of trade liberalisation policies in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore, BMO is scaling up its platform. The eight-time China Foreign Exchange Trade System multiple awardee continues to serve local clients while supporting the Chinese economy, and countries that do business with China. With China undergoing economic changes, moving from export to a more service-, technology- and consumer-driven economy, the country will need strong capital markets. BMO sees asset securitisation and the yuan currency growing quickly.

“We are optimistic about opportunities in China,” Yu says. “We can serve global customers and support the renminbi bond market. We are helping in the transition of China’s economy.”

Through joint ventures with leading corporations and Asian fund management firms, BMO bolsters its wealth management business by offering private banking, asset management, investment and corporate banking, and trade finance services to high-net-worth individuals and major corporations in the region. It has strategically located offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Mumbai, Melbourne and Sydney. Chinese investors expect nothing less as they rely on BMO to connect them with the bank’s sterling roster of global clients.

“High-net-worth individuals have money spread across the globe, and we help clients access their money with just one bank,” Yu says. “For example, our strong presence in Hong Kong and Singapore aligns very well with our offices in mainland China, so we can easily serve customers globally.”

BMO links businesses globally through three areas: helping clients buy assets, assisting international clients forge deals with China, and efficiently managing finance and corporate banking services. Its wide coverage in Asia is manned by staff who understand the language and culture of local markets, and who can adequately work with global counterparts.

“In every business, we ensure that we are readily available to clients and shareholders to offer solutions and to meet their expectations,” Yu says. “This is how we sustain long-term growth and relationships.”