We’re rethinking what value really means

As the choices around us change, so do the yardsticks by which we evaluate them. True value, however, has become increasingly difficult to gauge. Too many opportunities come wrapped in layers of complexity that may hide a lack of proven benefits. Attractive propositions are too often several steps removed from what’s honest and fair.

Image of Jim Fallon

“Here we measure customer relationships in generations and we’re adding new customers faster than ever before. That’s value.”

Jim Fallon
District Vice-President, Newfoundland and Labrador, BMO Bank of Montreal
St. John’s, Newfoundland

So where should the search for value now be focused? Price is an important factor, but it doesn’t go far enough: not every product or service can be commoditized with the rigour of big-box retailing. By the same token, volume discounts and bundling of services can’t capture the full spectrum of value that today’s consumers expect.

In financial services, what matters as much as cost is transparency. Customers want clear explanations of exactly what each service entails. They expect fees to be reasonable and fair.

Innovation is another driver of value. People welcome the convenience of new technologies and the precious time that more efficient services can save them. They also put a premium on sustainable choices now that the pendulum is swinging away from unchecked consumption.

But the most significant source of value is a rigorous set of expectations around service and performance – that have been met.

In rethinking what value really means, people now apply a sharper lens when evaluating whether a company really measures up. They still want tangible returns, of course, and a foundation for future growth. They want relevant advice that reflects a thorough understanding of their needs. They want clearly defined goals, commitments and obligations on both sides – with no surprises. And they want to feel that their financial institution is investing as much as they are in the relationship.

Above all, customers want the confidence of knowing that their decisions are backed by a wealth of experience – and by an institution that only makes promises it can keep.

Value is not a fixed point. It changes through the process of discovering, questioning and refining its many dimensions. Today, customers understand that they can only realize true value by participating more actively in the decision-making process – and institutions must be ready to help make that happen.

Graph: More Comfortable, More Confident

Investing in Home

More than 55% of recent home renovations in Canada were done with the intention of updating, adding value or preparing to sell the home, according to a 2009 survey commissioned by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. BMO Economics research reveals that home renovation investment in Canada grew 14% in the second quarter of 2010, the second-largest year-over-year increase in nearly a decade.


Don’t want lots of “bells and whistles” on the products they buy, just the functions they really need.


Are shopping more carefully and mindfully than they did before.


Say saving money makes them feel good about themselves.

Source: The New Consumer in the Era of Mindful Spending study, Euro RSCG Worldwide (survey of 5,700 adults in seven markets: Brazil, China, France, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States) (2009)

Award-Winning Relationships

This year, Harris received a 2010 TNS Choice Award for Metro Chicago in recognition of its success in establishing strong client relationships and offering the best customer-focused solutions. Winners of the award are chosen by Chicago residents for superior performance in attracting new customers, satisfying and retaining customers, and/or for winning a larger share of their customers’ total banking business.

Harris’ focus on customer experience extends across all channels. For the second consecutive year, the Harris Contact Center was certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a recognized leader in benchmarking and certifying contact centres.

The Flexible Investor

Customers have told us they want greater control and flexibility when it comes to investing. It’s one of the reasons BMO has taken the lead with Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs combine the advantages of low cost, diversity, flexibility and tax efficiency to give investors a greater sense of control over their portfolios. BMO currently offers 30 ETFs.

At BMO Nesbitt Burns, the Architect Program is making it possible for investors to hold both managed and non-managed investment vehicles in a single account. Customers enjoy a clear view of their total investment picture, along with the benefits of professional management.

See the Private Client Group Overview for more information.