BMO Financial Group
TSX : BMO
NYSE : BMO

BMO Financial Group

July 01, 2011 09:04 ET

Happy Birthday Canada! From Canada's First Bank

TORONTO, ONTARIO and MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - July 1, 2011) - BMO Financial Group, which will be celebrating its 194th anniversary in November, is joining people across the country in celebrating Canada's 144th birthday on July 1st.

It was in 1817 when nine Montreal businessmen invested $150,000 to found the Bank. Originally known as Montreal Bank, the Bank opened its doors for the first time on St. Paul Street in Montreal.

As Canada's first bank, BMO has been first with many innovations over the years to better serve customers, and the pace is accelerating. In 1817, the Bank's capital was $150,000. Today, the market capitalization of the bank is nearly $35 billion.(1)

Since its founding, BMO has played a significant role in projects key to the growth of Canada, including the construction of the first canals, telegraphs and railways, most notably Canadian Pacific's transcontinental line. The Bank was also responsible for the first Canadian currency, which it issued from its founding until the Bank of Canada was created in 1935.

"Banks have a direct impact on economic growth and a unique responsibility to support it," said Bill Downe, president and chief executive officer, BMO Financial Group. "From funding the fur trade and the first railroad construction, to providing financial services for millions of Canadians and businesses, BMO has remained focused on serving its customers who, in turn, have built this great country."

"To facilitate trade between Canada and the rest of the world, the Bank appointed agents in London, England and New York within a year of its founding. We established a permanent agency in New York's bustling financial district in 1859, the year a railway between Montreal and New York was completed. In 1861, we set our sights on the U.S. Midwest, establishing a permanent agency in Chicago. One of BMO's early competitors was N.W. Harris and Co., which became part of BMO Financial Group a century later," added Mr. Downe. "As we celebrate Canada Day, our employees share one goal: to see our customers make their financial decisions with confidence."

Notable firsts from Canada's First Bank include:
1870 – First Canadian bank to open an international branch – London, England
1957 – First bank in Canada to appoint two women assistant managers
1962 – Opened an office in Tokyo - first Canadian bank to open an office in Japan
1967 – Appointed first female director of a Canadian chartered bank
1975 – 1980 – First Canadian financial institution to go "on line", connecting all of its branches on a real-time basis to a central computer
1980 – A leader in computerized technology, BMO installed the first on-line Automated Banking Machines
1984 – First Canadian bank to acquire a U.S. subsidiary – Harris
1987 – First bank in Canada to break the pillars between brokerages and banks with the acquisition of Nesbitt Thomson, a predecessor for BMO Capital Markets
1988 – First bank in Canada with a series of personal banking plans
1993 – The Bank's pioneering efforts also extend to training - committed $50 million to develop BMO Financial Institute for Learning
1992 – Founding Sponsor of the AIR MILES Reward Miles Program - first major bank in North America to start rewarding its customers for their personal banking
1994 – First Canadian bank listed on New York Stock Exchange
1994 – Became the first non-U.S. company to win the high-profile Catalyst Award, given to companies that show progress in promoting women
1996 – The first Canadian bank to offer full-service banking across North America on the Internet
1996 – First Canadian bank to receive a licence for a full-service branch in Beijing
1997 – First bank in North America to introduce on-line mortgage adjudication
1997 – First Canadian organization to win the Optimas Award for its HR endeavors
2002 – First Canadian bank to participate as a marketmaker in China's foreign exchange market
2003 – BMO received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission to acquire an interest in Fullgoal Fund Management Company Ltd., positioning BMO as the first foreign company to acquire an interest in an established fund management firm in China
2004 – First Canadian bank to be granted derivatives licence in China.
2005 – One of the first Canadian companies to be listed on the new Dow Jones Sustainability North American Index
2006 – The first Canadian bank to open an Investment Banking Representative office in China
2007 – BMO InvestorLine launched MyLink and became the first on-line brokerage in Canada to offer a service that sends personalized messages directly to individual investors that are customized based on each investors' holdings, helping them to keep on top of their portfolio
2007 – BMO launched the most comprehensive debit card rewards program for customers in Canada. BMO's personal banking customers can collect AIR MILES reward miles whenever and wherever they make purchases using their BMO Bank of Montreal debit card.
2009 – BMO Financial Group launched four Exchange Traded Funds on the Toronto Stock Exchange, making the company the first major Canadian financial group to offer a family of ETFs. The ETF portfolio has now grown to 40 and recently crossed $2.5 billion in assets under management
2010 – First Canadian bank to open a locally incorporated subsidiary bank in China
2011 – BMO Bank of Montreal launched BMO SmartSteps for Parents, an online, interactive hub to help parents educate children on money management. The resource is free and available to all Canadians and aligns with recommendations from the Federal Government task force to improve financial literacy in Canada.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) is a highly diversified financial services organization. With total assets of $413 billion as of April 30, 2011, and more than 38,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

(1) Bloomberg Data

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