BMO regroups ag banking business

Ag-focused national banking team put in place

BMO in May 2020 announced an agreement to sell its 107-year-old downtown Winnipeg building to the Manitoba Metis Federation for use as a new Metis Nation Heritage Centre. (File photo by Dave Bedard)

With COVID-19 serving to “accelerate” changes in the industry, BMO Bank of Montreal says it has reset its farm banking work under the oversight of an expanded national agriculture and agribusiness banking team.

BMO announced the new team approach Oct. 14, describing it as “a national team of agriculture banking specialists — team members with backgrounds in agriculture combined with technical finance expertise — with a deep understanding of local market challenges and opportunities.”

The ag-specialized team, BMO said, will “provide end-to-end support for agriculture and agribusiness clients across the country” and is “well positioned to provide comprehensive solutions for all types and scale of operation, including the bank’s digital and treasury payment capabilities.”

These offerings, BMO said, “have been built specifically for the agriculture sector to help clients obtain the banking they need, quickly and conveniently.”

BMO hears “time and again that our agriculture customers want to work with professionals and experts in their field who know their business,” Lynda Taylor, senior vice-president and national head, agriculture and agribusiness for BMO, said via email last week.

“The difference now is that their banker is solely focused on agriculture and agriculture clients,” she said, adding the team will also have its own analysts and credit managers so as to “align knowledge, experience and passion for the agriculture industry.”

The team’s leadership includes Taylor along with Ashley Salazar as national director of credit structuring, the latter being responsible for “managing the strategic direction and risk of the overall agricultural banking group.”

The national team approach, Taylor said, “is about us coming together to work as one team and sharing knowledge and experience.” That said, she added that BMO “has always been local and we will continue to be; no one knows agriculture better than the people living in the community who understand the sectors.”

Canada’s agriculture industry, BMO said in its release, is “evolving, with continual advancements in efficiency and sustainability influenced by changing market dynamics and the ongoing effects of COVID-19.”

Looking at the ag industry, Taylor said, “we find ourselves at somewhat of an inflection point. We are seeing a lot of advancements in the industry and now, with COVID, it’s worked to accelerate some of these changes.”

“Over the past two decades, productivity in the agriculture sector has increased five times faster than in the Canadian economy as a whole – and that trend shows little sign of letting up,” Aaron Goertzen, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, said in the bank’s release.

Given the importance of the agrifood industry in Canada’s economy, accounting for over four per cent of last year’s gross domestic product, Taylor said BMO “recognize(s) an opportunity to invest more in agriculture experts and bring teams within the bank together to support this industry more effectively.”

The new ag group will also work with BMO’s retail, wealth, and capital markets operations “to support businesses in this segment with a full range of wealth and banking products and services,” the bank said. — Glacier FarmMedia Network


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