Your bank has performed well over the past year. All of us who are privileged to serve on the Board of Directors are pleased with the results and confident about what can be accomplished in the year ahead.
BMO achieved record revenue, record net income and record earnings per share in 2013. There was an attractive return of capital to common shareholders – over 60% of earnings – through the combination of dividends and share buybacks under the Normal Course Issuer Bid. And our one-year total shareholder return – share price appreciation and dividends – led the Canadian banks.
The bank’s performance reflects the dedication and commitment of a talented and motivated team of employees led by a strong and experienced management group. In this regard, I want to acknowledge our CEO, Bill Downe, for his leadership and commitment. His belief that BMO’s success depends on the success of customers continues to guide our strategy and is increasingly embedded in the culture of the bank.
It’s also a pleasure to welcome Frank Techar to his new role as Chief Operating Officer, assuming overall responsibility for BMO’s Personal & Commercial and Wealth businesses, as well as the bank’s retail distribution channels, in both Canada and the United States. Strengthened operational capability across all of our businesses is now critical to future success in our industry as the pace of change quickens and as regulation continues to intensify. Frank’s appointment strengthens our capacity to develop industry-leading, cross-group capabilities that drive customer experience – at the right pace. Frank brings to his role an outstanding record of achievement and deep knowledge of our businesses and the opportunities we have to strengthen them. Together, Bill and Frank will be a formidable team leading the bank forward.
We will work closely with Bill and the leadership team in a shared commitment to redefine and grow the company, work more efficiently for customers and capitalize on our scale in Canada, the United States and select markets worldwide. As we look forward to the year ahead, our focus will be on execution and performance as we take advantage of our strong businesses and platforms to deliver another year of superior returns.
As your representatives, we will continue to strengthen our board and the way it works, and we will continue to work with management in a shared effort to enhance the diversity of the organization at all levels. The board is performing well, and I thank my fellow directors for their many valued contributions to our progress.
Thank you for your confidence in our company during the past year. I hope you will continue to stand with BMO as we enter a new year of achievement.
J. Robert S. Prichard