1984: BMO acquires Harris Bank in Chicago
The acquisition made BMO the first truly North American bank.
The purchase of one of Canada’s most respected investment firms in 1987 was made possible by Canadian government regulatory reforms made that same year, which allowed banks to purchase investment houses. This was Canada’s response to “The Big Bang” of global financial deregulation coursing through markets and institutions in the 1980s.
The BMO-Nesbitt Thomson deal was historic: the first of its kind between a Canadian chartered bank and a Canadian investment firm. The purchase made it possible for the bank to deliver a broad range of investment services across the massive transcontinental branch network.
BMO’s large size, capital base, retail distribution network, computer systems and global operations aligned well with the brokerage’s experience and entrepreneurial skills in the securities industry. The bank envisioned new markets – particularly the personal market, where investment and savings products needed a reimagining. The people at Nesbitt also brought a new culture and a new way of doing things into the bank that persists to the present day.
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