Banking for good,

for all

Canada’s oldest bank grows an ambitious new growth plan

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) was founded more than 200 years ago and remains one of Canada’s Big Five Banks. In the process of forming an ambitious strategic plan, the organization identified a key necessity to meet their goals — something that would channel the passion of their workforce. Purpose fit the bill.

We began by gathering a wealth of inputs to understand the organization

Our team spoke with branch members, executives, the CEO, and even the bank’s official historian. Our extensive interview, survey, and workshop research enabled us to define five purpose principles that capture BMO’s strengths and serve as guardrails for behavior across culture, strategy, and brand.

This employee-facing purpose film captured the universal truth that money alone can’t make what is good; people have to grow it.
This second purpose film encouraged employees and customers alike to go out in their communities and be great.

We drew on divergent thinking from social relationship experts to plant BMO’s purpose

To re-examine the role of banks in communities, we turned to a variety of thought leaders. We discussed adaptation with a biologist, contemplated ethical action with a theologian, and examined social dynamics with an anthropologist. This exploration unlocked findings that informed BMO’s purpose: Boldly Grow the Good in Business and Life. We wrote an accompanying purpose narrative that linked the company’s culture and history to its newly defined role in the world.

Social content brought the purpose story to smaller screens.
BMO's purpose dashboard features links to the bank's history and goals for the future, the purpose film (plus bite-sized vignettes), and updates on ongoing purpose-driven actions.

BMO unveiled a new set of investments and initiatives to spur positive change across three specific areas

They wasted no time turning purpose into progress. The day after launch, the organization sent out a press release that promised to “Double the Good” for a thriving economy, sustainable future, and inclusive society.

BMO’s commitments set an industry standard for boldness

Thriving Economy
BMO committed not only to doubling the bank’s resources for small businesses but also to doubling their industry-leading support for women entrepreneurs, including increasing their number of dedicated business relationship managers.

Sustainable Future
They committed to doubling the bank’s sustainable finance mobilization to $400 billion. They also created an impact investment fund to tackle clients’ most pressing environmental challenges, contributing an initial seed fund of $250 million in capital. Our team offered a range of creative campaign concepts that helped BMO convey to the public the massiveness of this figure and generate conversation across stakeholders about these important topics.

Inclusive Society
Finally, they committed to doubling the size of their Indigenous banking business. They also fostered inclusive relationships with customers by engaging all 45,000 employees in a “Learn from Difference” training program. BMO partnered with United Way of Greater Toronto (and donated $10 million to its cause, as well).

BMO delivered a groundbreaking purpose announcement that was the most inclusive event in bank history, reaching 45,000 employees with a broadcast that connected its offices in Chicago, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Montreal.

BMO’s launch was only the start of cultivating purposeful action organization-wide

BMO was determined that their purpose not simply take root but revolutionize the way they do business. With purpose embedded as a shared belief among all employees and a strategic driver for organizational decisions, BMO continued to make bold strides.

BMO’s digital presence kept the transformative power of purpose top-of-mind and top-of-feed

BMO’s online purpose dashboard helped them stay accountable by contextualizing new and existing measures and fostering purposeful idea-sharing among employees, all while continuing to activate purpose messaging post-launch using custom social content.

Working with BCG BrightHouse was lifechanging and a massive inflection point for BMO. I’m doing a job that didn’t exist before in a function that we are ahead of the market in. Through our purpose, we’re able lead in energy transition and climate work authentically, leveraging our strengths.

Jonathan Hackett
Co-Head, BMO Energy Transition Group and Head, Sustainable Finance and Managing Director


Acting on their bold commitments, BMO founded their Sustainable Finance Group to bring purpose into consideration for venture opportunities. They also acquired a Calgary-based leader in sustainability advisory services and solutions.

Purpose helps BMO place sustainability at the forefront and shapes their every product, initiative, and partnership

As the covid-19 pandemic shook the business world, BMO amplified the importance of purpose

BMO invited BCG BrightHouse CEO Ashley Grice and Managing Director Cathy Carlisi to participate in their podcast series, Sustainability Leaders. The podcast discussed how to unearth your company’s purpose authentically, why purpose-driven companies are more responsible and profitable, and how employee input was paramount in discovering BMO’s purpose — as well as why the covid-19 pandemic made purpose as pertinent as ever.

BMO is driven by a single purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in Business and Life. At our core we are focused on driving positive change for our customers, employees, and the communities where we do business. Our bank is mobilized and accelerating. And in every new opportunity we take on, we’re driven by a clear purpose and a bold ambition.

Darryl White
CEO, Bank of Montreal (BMO)

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