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BMO Financial Group

February 25, 2014 10:00 ET

BMO's L. Jacques Menard and The Boston Consulting Group Unveil a Program for Revitalizing Montreal

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Feb. 25, 2014) - L. Jacques Ménard, president of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, and Éric Brat, senior partner of the Montreal office of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), today presented ten proposals designed to crystallize thinking, spark the involvement of the Montreal community and rally young people so that Montreal, Quebec's engine of growth, can return to the kind of success it once enjoyed.

The proposals stem from a study of seven metropolises around the world that are comparable to Montreal, and that have achieved turnarounds after passing through a difficult period.

"In carrying out this study, we wanted to make a positive and non-partisan contribution to the thought process aimed at restoring the strengths of Montreal, which is Quebec's chief standard-bearer on the international stage and which alone accounts for half of Quebec's economy," said Mr. Ménard and Mr. Brat during the presentation of their report at Concordia University, of which Mr. Ménard is the chancellor.

Carried out on a pro bono basis by BCG in partnership with BMO, the study notes that, in the last 15 years, Greater Montreal's economic development has been less dynamic than that of the five other largest Canadian cities:

  • Growth in GDP was the lowest: 37 per cent in Montreal versus an average 59 per cent in the other major Canadian cities;
  • Unemployment was the highest: it has hovered around 8.5 per cent in Greater Montreal for 15 years now, compared with 6.3 per cent elsewhere in Canada;
  • Citizens' disposable income has risen more slowly: 51 per cent in Montreal as opposed to 87 per cent in the rest of Canada;
  • And Montreal's demographic growth is half of what it is in the country's other major cities, at 16 per cent versus 33 per cent.

The BMO-BCG study looked at 78 metropolises around the world and identified seven that have faced comparable situations and prevailed: Manchester (England), Melbourne (Australia), Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, all of which have rejoined the ranks of the most dynamic cities in their respective countries, as well as Boston, San Diego and Seattle, which are now regarded internationally as model cities.

On considering the experiences of these cities and the lessons they might hold for Montreal, BCG researchers and Mr. Ménard noted several similarities, including:

  • Strong and clear leadership at the metropolitan level, leadership that is supported by the higher levels of government;
  • Targeting centres of excellence in order to spearhead growth;
  • Private and public sector funding around a limited number of initiatives;
  • The upgrading of transportation and telecommunications infrastructures with an eye to sustainable development and improving citizens' quality of life;
  • The importance of human capital and institutions of higher learning, colleges and universities;
  • Branding actions with a single signature in all the cities of the metropolis and developing a marketing and promotion strategy under this single brand;
  • Perseverance, because turning around a slow decline is a long-term effort that transcends individuals and elections.

Some 50 leaders in Greater Montreal were also interviewed for the study. It soon became clear that Greater Montreal can count on advantages such as its centres of excellence in the aerospace, high technology, multimedia and biopharmaceutical industries, having proportionally more university students than Boston, an abundance of major cultural and sports events and a multilingual workforce.

Bearing this in mind, the report's authors developed a ten-point revitalization program that, in a decade or so, would enable Montreal to become one of the North American cities known for its economic vitality, prosperity and quality of life.

The ten proposals are:

Proposal 1 Set ourselves an economic ambition: to rejoin the front ranks and then become one of the best.
Proposal 2 Mobilize the business, academic and social community in partnership with Montreal's mayor and the Montreal Metropolitan Community.
Proposal 3 "Repair" the city.
Proposal 4 Project ourselves into the future.
Proposal 5 Retain, attract and welcome talent from everywhere.
Proposal 6 Favour the emergence of new international leaders.
Proposal 7 Give Montreal the powers of a metropolis.
Proposal 8 Endow the metropolis with the necessary fiscal resources.
Proposal 9 Promote a unique identity.
Proposal 10 Rigorously measure the progress made.

The detailed proposals are found in section 5 of the report, the French-language version of which is available for downloading or reading online on http://www.bmo.com/ci/files/Creer_un_nouvel_elan_a_Montreal.pdf. The English-language version will follow shortly.

"Montreal has everything it needs to accomplish this turnaround. But it won't happen without a widespread awareness and a shared understanding that is action-oriented and manifests itself within a unifying movement that includes the business community and young people and rallies behind its political leaders," concluded Messrs. Ménard and Brat.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $537 billion as at October 31, 2013, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

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