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A National Bank location in Toronto.Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Cleaning up their books before the new fiscal year, Bank of Montreal and National Bank of Canada both incurred big restructuring charges in the fourth quarter.

BMO's charge amounted to $74-million, or $53-million after tax. The bank's full-year restructuring charge now adds up to $173-million (two other charges were recorded in the first and second quarters, but none in the third). BMO noted that the expense helps it to "align our cost structure for the current and future business environment" and is "part of the broader effort underway in the bank to improve productivity."

At National Bank, the restructuring was labelled as severance pay and totalled $65-million in the fourth quarter, or $48-million after tax. For the full year, National's severance pay amounted to $80-million. Severance pay last quarter came from all departments, with $11-million after-tax arising from personal and commercial banking and more coming out of the financial markets groupwhich, as previously noted, recently let 48 traders go as it moves toward a more electronic trading operation.