In an effort to help corporate clients tackle their increasingly complex treasury and payments challenges, Bank of Montreal (BMO) has launched a new combined Treasury and Payments division in order to provide customized, flexible, and easily integrated solutions.
BMO started down this path about a year ago when it began exploring the idea of combining its traditional treasury/cash management business with its corporate card organization, says Kevin Kane, BMO's managing director and head of sales for Treasury and Payment Solutions in the US.
"The more we listened to what our clients and prospects were telling us, we really wanted to bring those two teams together," Kane recalls. "Things are getting more complex [for corporate clients]; the pace of change is picking up, especially with the evolution from paper to electronic in the payments space. We interpreted those macro trends and listened to their corporate objectives and came forward with ideas to simplify and streamline their payments environment."
With the new structure, BMO is "product agnostic" in dealing with its corporate clients, Kane says. No longer are they having separate conversations about products with card and treasury services people at BMO, but rather the bank and clients are engaging in a more consultative type of conversation.
"We look at their disbursement side, the payments distribution, how many vendors they have, the suppliers they work with, how they use ACH and payments cards, and then analyze that and make recommendations of where they can gain savings and process improvements."
The organization shift also led to change management efforts internally at BMO, as the different teams needed training and education on the new model. For example, salespeople not only needed to learn about new products, but also had to shift their focus from how their performance was previously judged.
"If you are a card salesperson and the client is saying ACH is the way they want to go, you can't take a narrow, siloed view and try and force something," says Kane. "It's about the whole organization."
Further, he notes, data integration from both organizations is ongoing, a laborious process but one that is necessary for the new organization to get a complete view of its customers.
Steve Pedersen, VP, North American Corporate Card Products, Treasury and Payment Solutions for the bank, says his team, which was previously used to just selling corporate card products, has had to adapt to the new environment, but ultimately both the bank and its clients will be better off.
"We still have specialization within the sales team, but when you unify the whole team it has a great impact," he says. "Even the hardcore, longstanding salespeople, I'm seeing them adapt and change."
Ultimately, Pedersen says, this move will help the entire payments ecosystem for BMO's clients work much better.
"We don't want to force a square peg into a round hole, but give the client holistic solutions."
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Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio