Bank of Montreal named Frank Techar its new chief operating officer to integrate the lender's personal and commercial banking arms with its wealth management business, part of a broader effort to streamline how the bank's products are marketed and sold.
Already the head of personal and commercial banking in Canada, Mr. Techar will, starting Nov. 1, also oversee the equivalent business in the U.S., as well as wealth management on both sides of the border. The COO role is a new position for the bank, and the units that Mr. Techar will oversee accounted for three-quarters, or $868-million, of BMO's earnings last quarter.
While similar moves typically signal succession planning for chief executive officers, BMO said this particular shuffle does not foreshadow pending changes. Current CEO Bill Downe, 61, took on his role in 2007.
"Bill has made a multi-year commitment to the board, he is not going anywhere," BMO spokesperson Paul Deegan said.
Instead, Mr. Techar's promotion is designed to help the bank better manage the units that will be under his control, in large part by co-ordinating their operations behind the scenes. P&C banking and wealth management deal with many of the same customers, creating opportunities to cross-sell products such as mortgages and exchange-traded funds.
"The efficiency and stewardship that comes from looking at these businesses through a common lens will allow us to respond, at the right pace, to changing market conditions, new trends, and disruptive technologies," Mr. Downe said in a statement.
BMO also noted that Mr. Techar, 57, will be able to co-ordinate technology development – such as mobile banking – and marketing for the areas under his watch.
Marketing integration started earlier this year, when the bank's U.S. arm launched an advertising campaign to boost brand awareness in the Midwest. Those ads recently crossed the border with only minor tuning for the Canadian audience.
Mr. Techar is already relatively well-versed in BMO's U.S. operations, having served as the head of U.S. retail and commercial banking from 2002 to 2006. However, the bank has grown significantly since then, particularly through its $4.1-billion purchase of Marshall & Ilsley Corp. in 2010.
Mr. Downe's current term as chief executive officer does not have a defined end date. However, he and the board of directors reached an agreement for the next few years, and there is speculation that he could keep the CEO title until BMO's bicentennial anniversary in 2017, giving him a full decade as the chief executive.