Clouds over BMO Nesbitt Burns

According to the respondents to the Pointage des courtiers québécois 2021, their dissatisfaction is mainly concentrated in the area of ​​technology and strategic orientation. Finance et Investissement tried to better understand the situation.

Organizational concerns

Recent organizational changes at BMO, including the merger of BMO NB and BMO Private Banking, raise concerns, according to respondents.

BMO NB respondents give it a score of 5.4 out of 10 for its strategic orientation, against 8.0 for the Quebec average. In addition, they give a score of 6.0 for their corporate culture (compared to 8.2), and 6.0 for their receptivity to their comments/opinions (compared to 7.7).

“Change management is missing,” says one respondent. “For two years, I went from a total promoter of the company to a complete detractor,” says another.

Some question the banking dimension of corporate culture.

“We are losing our identity. The Nesbitt Burns culture is being diluted,” says one. “The bankers are in power. They want paid employees. The advisers don’t have the necessary support,” argues another. One adviser believes it is “now run by a bank”.

Several advisors say they lack information about the company’s references. “The orientation is not very clear,” summarizes one of the participants. “The vision is not clear,” says another. “We get the impression that the company is still in makeshift mode,” says one adviser.

Some councilors lament that the CPs do not seem to be listened to or considered in the vision presented by the leaders.

Minority, some advisers have expressed their satisfaction regarding the direction that the company is following. “It can always be better, but in general it is very good,” said an adviser, emphasizing the “dynamism” of the company. “We are following a new model with non-producing managers. I am very happy with my situation,” says another. “Since my arrival, I have tripled my turnover”, underlines a consultant.

The management of BMO NB is clear: we do not aim for the banking of the broker, this trend of the industry wanting a bank to interfere more and more in the internal affairs of the broker to the point of changing the entrepreneurial culture.

“We don’t want to turn BMO NB towards a banking mentality,” emphasizes Mario Rigante, regional president, Private Management, Quebec. “Compared to the sense of banking, we have to say that it is not so,” adds Sylvain Brisebois, senior vice president and general manager, head of strategies and programs, national sales of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

These executives admit that the merger process has created some fears. “The merger was announced in January 2019. It took time and raised concerns,” said Mario Rigante.

Sylvain Brisebois completes: “[Les conseillers] not having all the information, fed certain fears, for example that of banking or that of becoming employees.

Sylvain Brisebois highlights the advantages of joining the two branches of BMO, including the possibility of supporting customers with their banking needs and having access to more resources. “Advisors can get more referrals. If they want to offer more services to their clients, they can work with other groups in the company. The possibilities are great. We have to explain all the advantages of the merger,” he says.

According to him, the merger aims to better serve customers as their needs are increasingly complex. “In the past, we proceeded in reference from one sector to another. It is no longer and creates an element of change that is not easy! We are in a period of transition. We spoke to the advisers to explain this process, but it is more difficult to do in a pandemic period.

“We want an entrepreneurial perspective. A corporate culture with team business models. This provides better results in investment strategies, trusts, financial planning, philanthropy…” notes Sylvain Brisebois.

It should be remembered that the approach between wealth management activities and those of personal or commercial bankers is a widespread trend among financial institutions that hold brokers. The general idea is to best serve a client by helping them manage their assets and liabilities.

Technological challenges

In addition, BMO NB respondents also scored relatively low for company support in terms of technology. BMO NB’s score varies from 5.3 to 6.6 out of 10 for these five criteria, i.e. a difference of 1.1 to 2.5 points compared to the Quebec average for each of them.

Like other brokers, BMO NB has had to deal with the rapid spread of telecommuting, which has complicated its technological challenges.

“Like everyone, nobody was ready for the pandemic, but my company put a lot of pressure on the assistants and we didn’t have much support, because the company had so many IT problems. The support was inadequate for the first three or four months,” says one adviser.

“The initial response was good, but if we were not so technologically deficient, we could have adapted more quickly. Our systems have many weaknesses,” adds a respondent.

“I was sent home without a laptop. Even today, I use my personal computer. The login works half the time. Tech support is ineffective,” notes another.

Many respondents are dissatisfied with computer systems.

“Our system does not talk to other systems. Everything works in silos,” says one of them about the front office technology.

Sales management software is chosen by some respondents. One adviser thinks that specialist sales information is “coming out rather slowly”. Another criticizes its “insufficient” integration with email management software.

That said, other consultants emphasize the benefits of IT tools while lamenting not having enough time to learn how to master them. “We have great tools, but there are too many things to do ourselves. We have difficulty using them,” said one of them.

Regarding back-office technology, one respondent said that “there are a lot of systems that do different things and don’t talk to each other.” Another considers it complicated and reports that his “assistant is obliged to do a lot of unnecessary follow-ups”.

As for mobile technology, one polled advisor bemoans “significant delays in the technology transition.” “It’s improved over last year, but it’s far from perfect. It lacks technological tools,” said another.

Among the rare comments that praise the company’s efforts on the technological front, one adviser is happy that “throughout the pandemic, BMO NB has been able to improve the process of inserting new clients.” Another respondent agreed: “There is an effort that has been made to implement new tools to promote remote work. It is not perfect, but the fact that we can send signatures remotely has helped us a lot.”

Sylvain Brisebois repeats certain challenges: “The deployment of new technologies has been slower than expected and more difficult to make the distance. However, the processes have changed. [durant cette période].”

The company has not been inactive during the pandemic, says Mario Rigante: “We have offered training to advisers on social media, given by experts, on how to connect better, how to approach potential clients, how to add contacts.”

“We are in the process of implementing new personal computers. In particular, it will be possible to work with several applications at the same time. This will give the advisers a lot of autonomy”, adds Mario Rigante.

In addition, the company recently created a national sales strategy office. “This will help us to better reach the advisers and to better equip them in their daily practice”, says Sylvain Brisebois.

Support appreciated

In addition, BMO NB’s advisor support services received scores close to the Quebec average for businesses. This is the case for financial planning services in life insurance, estate planning and tax planning. The same is true for products and services for high net worth clients.

“We have integrated new software this year. It is easier to use with better visuals for clients. I have nothing but good comments,” says a consultant on financial planning services.

An advisor sums up his colleagues’ appreciation for products for high-net-worth clients: “We have a wide range of innovative solutions.”

Another says that “you don’t need to be an expert at all” thanks to tax specialists and planners who can accompany you to meetings with wealthy clients. “The personal insurance support team does an excellent job. They have solid expertise in the field and recommendations are relevant to customer needs,” said one respondent.

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