Canadians Save More Than $67 Million in Just Two Months Since Launch of BMO
SmartSteps

    
    More than 100,000 BMO customers have benefited from BMO's proactive
    savings initiative
    

TORONTO, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - BMO Bank of Montreal released figures today showing that more than 100,000 customers who have taken BMO SmartSteps since it was introduced two months ago have put away a total of $67 million. The program is designed to identify immediate ways for Canadians to save and manage their day-to-day finances.

BMO economists forecast that Canadians will focus on savings in the coming year. "We expect to see Canada's savings rate increase by 50 basis points to 5 per cent of Canadians' disposable income in 2010, as households are expected to curb their high rates of borrowing," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

"According to a recent Harris/Decima survey, an overwhelming number of Canadians said that they need immediate help with money management, and we have made a commitment to help," said Lynne Kilpatrick, Senior Vice President, Personal Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "BMO SmartSteps is another way we are 'making money make sense' for our customers. With just a 20 minute conversation in a branch we can provide tailored solutions for how people can start saving money right away."

BMO staff proactively provide customers with five essential banking tips and can activate the savings on the spot when a customer visits a branch. Customers can:

    
    -  Generate automatic monthly savings: transferring just $50 each week to
       a higher-interest savings account can add up to $2,600 plus interest
       in just one year
    -  Minimize banking fees - using a debit card frequently could add up to
       over $30 per month. Pay half of that and get unlimited debit
       transactions.
    -  Trim years off of mortgage payments and become debt-free more quickly
       - You could be mortgage-free 4 years sooner and save more than $47,000
       in interest charges simply by changing your payment frequency
    -  Start saving tax-free: Opening a Tax-Free Savings Account is a good
       way to save for your short and long term goals because you keep
       everything that you make and you can access it at any time.
    -  Set up automated money transfers to avoid extra fees: A cheque or
       pre-authorized payment from an account with insufficient funds can
       cost more than $40 in fees but automatic transfers do not cost
       anything extra.
    

The most popular BMO SmartStep was changing banking plans to minimize service fees, followed by opening a tax-free savings account and setting up overdraft protection.

Picture the savings:

Carlo Miceli is a small business owner in Essex, near Windsor. By proactively initiating a SmartSteps conversation, the local assistant branch manager at the Essex branch found immediate ways for Mr. Miceli to save.

"Our local economy has been hit hard in the recession; the last year has helped me realize the importance of savings," said Mr. Miceli. "At my BMO branch, the assistant branch manager talked to me about how to save money. Guiding me through SmartSteps, she showed me how I could reduce my plan fees, and I learned about the benefits of a TFSA. It was quick and simple and I was saving before I even left the branch."

For more information about BMO SmartSteps, visit your local branch or go to www.bmo.com/smartsteps.

SOURCE BMO BANK OF MONTREAL

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Kasia Lech, kasia.lech@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; Ronald Monet, Montréal, ronald.monet@bmo.com, (514) 877-1101; Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596


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