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The fund’s total exposure to Canadian banks is less than 10 per cent, considerably less than that of Canada’s largest dividend ETF.MICHELLE SIU/The Canadian Press

Bank of Montreal is in the midst of an aggressive cost-cutting campaign.

When the bank reported earnings Thursday, the income statement included an $82-million restructuring charge. But this isn't the bank's first. Since the start of the 2012 fiscal year, BMO's restructuring charges total $255-million.

The charges were incurred in four of the last six quarters, and the most recent expense was the largest of them all.

Banks often suffer through all sorts of restructuring charges, particularly after they strike acquisitions. Yet the $255-million total strips many things out, such as charges related to BMO's purchase of Marshall and Ilsley Corp., and is wholly devoted to straight-forward cost cutting.

Often the bank's rationale for these charges has been to "align our cost structure with the current and future business environment."

BMO has also noted in its financial releases that the cuts are "part of the broader effort underway to improve productivity in the bank."

Three other Big Six banks have already reported second-quarter results, but neither incurred restructuring charges. Going back to the first quarter of 2012, only National Bank of Canada has endured any serious severance payments, shelling out $80-million during the last fiscal year.

Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce report their earnings on Thursday.

For the most part, it isn't clear what divisions have been affected by BMO's recent restructuring charges. (A call has been placed with the bank.) However, the $68-million charge in the first quarter of 2012 came from the bank's capital markets unit.

(Tim Kiladze is a Globe and Mail Reporter.)

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