Two top executives at the Bank of Montreal are retiring next year, creating an opportunity for chief executive Darryl White to refashion the bank’s upper ranks roughly a year into his tenure.
Surjit Rajpal is set to retire in January of 2019, after more than seven years as BMO’s chief risk officer and nearly four decades at the bank.
Gilles Ouellette, the head of BMO Asset Management, will also be retiring next year, though the bank didn’t specify the exact timing of his departure. Mr. Ouellette joined Burns Fry Ltd. in 1979, before it merged with BMO’s Nesbitt Thomson, and became head of wealth management in 2001.
Mr. White credited Mr. Rajpal with steering the bank through the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and Mr. Ouellette with helping BMO expand its presence in China and acquire F&C Asset Management in 2014.
The moves set off the first executive shuffle since Mr. White took the reins on Nov. 1 of last year.
Pat Cronin, currently the head of BMO Nesbitt Burns, is set to take over as the bank’s chief risk officer on Nov. 1, while Joanna Rotenberg, who currently leads BMO wealth management, will add global asset management to her mandate next year.
Dan Barclay, currently the co-head of global investment and corporate banking, will step into Mr. Cronin’s shoes. That leaves his co-head Peter Myers with sole responsibility for that role.
John Aiken, an analyst with Barclays Capital, said he wasn’t overly surprised by the retirements, given that both Mr. Rajpal and Mr. Ouellette have had a long history with the bank.
“You saw Surjit steering the bank through a very difficult period, not only in terms of challenges but also a changing regulatory environment,” Mr. Aiken said, adding, “After those 10 years I’d probably want to retire, as well.”
He added, “Darryl White is now bringing some of his lieutenants in.”
John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, said it’s normal for a new bank CEO to spend about a year taking stock of the organization before making changes.
“He’s kind of been getting his feet wet and feeling his way around,” Mr. Kinsey said. “Now, after a year, he’s starting to put his stamp on the bank.”
Since taking over from Bill Downe, Mr. White has also set his sights on making BMO’s work force leaner and speeding up its growth south of the border.
“He’s a little more aggressive in certain areas than his predecessor was," Mr. Kinsey said.
The bank recorded a $260-million pretax restructuring charge in the second quarter as part of a plan to trim its work force.
And, on his first day in office last year, Mr. White promoted retail banking head Cam Fowler, giving him new authority over some U.S. operations. Mr. Fowler, who had been head of Canadian personal and commercial banking, became president of North American personal and business banking.