BMO Helps Canadians Save More - Today



    Launch of BMO SmartSteps Provides An Immediate Way to Save Money

    
    -   Harris/Decima report reveals 79 per cent of respondents need
        immediate help with money management
    -   Only one in five respondents say banks have been effective helping
        them
    -   BMO SmartSteps branch visit puts money back in customer's pocket
    

    TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - BMO Bank of Montreal announced today that it is
launching BMO SmartSteps, a program specifically designed to help Canadians
save more money during a period of increasing financial stress.
    The Bank also released a report that shows while an overwhelming number
of Canadians polled need immediate help with their day-to-day money
management, only one in five believe their bank has been effective in helping
them.
    Frank Techar, President and CEO, Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO
Financial Group, said Canadians have issued "a wake up call" and BMO is
determined to play a lead role in meeting the challenge as BMO SmartSteps is
introduced to customers.
    "It's essential that banks become more accountable in helping people save
and manage their day-to-day finances, and we have made a commitment to act
now," said Techar. "BMO SmartSteps delivers a straightforward approach that
can add up to real savings for customers through reduced fees, lower interest
costs and less money that goes towards taxes."
    BMO SmartSteps provides customers with five essential banking tips they
can do on the spot as part of their visit to a branch:

    
    -   Generate automatic monthly savings
    -   Minimize banking fees
    -   Take years off of mortgage payments and become debt-free quicker
    -   Start saving tax-free
    -   Automate money transfers to avoid extra fees.
    

    "All it takes to start saving is a 20 minute conversation with one of our
experts in a branch," said Barb Budarick, Vice President, BMO Bank of
Montreal. "For example, homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars
simply by switching their monthly mortgage payment to bi-weekly payments.
    "Our research shows that the banking industry has not done a good job of
proactively working with customers on identifying ways to optimize day-to-day
finances. We are making a commitment that our employees will help identify
immediate savings for our customers before they leave a branch."
    A survey conducted by Harris/Decima reveals the Canadians polled are
stressed about the economy and are looking for ways to save more money:

    
    -   79 per cent of respondents need immediate help with their day-to-day
        money management
    -   Only one in five respondents believe their bank has been effective in
        helping them manage their day-to-day money
    -   Only two per cent of respondents have learned the most about managing
        their daily finances from their bank; the majority get most of their
        information from someone else.

    In the report, respondents said they are only saving approximately half of
what they wish they could be saving every month and regret not taking action
sooner:

    -   In light of the economic downturn, the majority of those polled
        (57 per cent) say they would have done something differently six
        months ago.
    -   A total of 56 per cent would have spent less money or actively saved
        more.
    

    "We want to avoid customers looking back and wishing they had done
something differently," added Budarick. "BMO SmartSteps is designed to provide
easy banking tips that Canadians can act on right away."
    For more information about BMO SmartSteps, visit your local branch or go
to www.bmo.com/smartsteps.
    The Harris/Decima online poll was conducted from May 25 to June 2, 2009
and is based on a sample of 1,057 married/common-law Canadians between the
ages of 25-40 years, who have a minimum household income of $60,000, and at
least share in their household's financial decisions.

    
    Harris/Decima Report Reveals Regional Differences

    -   For those needing immediate help with day-to-day money matters, the
        sentiment is strongest in Ontario (82 per cent), compared to the
        Prairies (74 per cent).
    -   The impact of the economy on stress levels is reported more in
        Ontario (59 per cent), British Columbia (57 per cent), and the
        Prairies (52 per cent), while the lowest is in Atlantic Canada
        (36 per cent).
    -   Quebeckers (58 per cent) are more likely than Ontarians (47 per cent)
        to rate themselves as "average" when it comes to their ability to
        save money.
    -   Respondents from Atlantic Canada (60 per cent) and Ontario (58 per
        cent) are more likely than Quebeckers (45 per cent) to have overdraft
        projection on their account.
    -   Atlantic Canadians are more likely to have discussed with their bank
        ways to reduce service fees (46 per cent) than those from Ontario
        (35 per cent) and the Prairies (33 per cent).

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/
    





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Kasia Lech, Toronto,
kasia.lech@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; Lucie Gosselin, Montreal,
lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514) 877-8224; Laurie Grant, Vancouver,
laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596


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