BMO’s head of banking for Alberta returns to roots

CALGARY – BMO’s head of banking for Alberta has returned to her roots.

Susan Brown was recently appointed as senior vice-president for the Alberta and NWT division of BMO Bank of Montreal in Calgary.

She is coming back to Alberta where she started in career with the bank in 1994 in Edmonton and to the province where her great-great grandparents homesteaded in 1900 – five years before Alberta became a province.

Brown also returns at a time when Alberta’s economy is growing – the best in the country – and when BMO continues to expand its footprint across the province.

“We think that Alberta’s economy should definitely remain the leader among all of the provinces this year and next thanks to strength in the energy sector, surging population and a strong labour market. Our outlook for Alberta remains very positive and we’re very optimistic about the province and the prospects in this province,� said Brown. “We’re expecting Real GDP growth of 3.5 per cent in 2014 and even with the drop in oil prices we’re still expecting growth of 2.9 per cent in 2015. And that is certainly stronger growth than we’re seeing anywhere else in the country. It’s one of the reasons that we remain as optimistic about economic prospects in this province as we do.

“We’re seeing growth come in lots of different ways. The labour market of course continues to draw a significant number of migrants from other parts of the country. Employment growth should be about three per cent in 2014 and just below two per cent in 2015. The booming economy, of course, continues to drive an influx of migrants to the province. There were 102,000 net new residents into Alberta last year. About half of them from other places in Canada and about half of them from outside of Canada. That immigration into the city creates tremendous opportunities for us and for many other businesses as well.�

BMO is continuing to grow its presence in the province.

BMO has 112 branches in Alberta with 38 in Calgary. It is continuing to invest in Alberta by opening new branches in key growth neighbourhoods and renovating existings branches. Last year, it opened new branches in Newcastle, Edmonton, and Seton, Calgary.

This year it opened a new branch in Airdrie. An innovative modular branch in High River will open in December, replacing the one destroyed by the 2013 flood and in 2015 BMO plans to open one new branch in Edmonton as well as undertaking a major expansion/relocation of its Panorama Hills branch in Calgary.

It recently restructured its divisions and added new leaders for commercial and personal categories to focus more closely on growth opportunities.

BMO finances close to 40,000 firms in Alberta and its commercial division is focusing on growing its share in the agriculture and resources sectors as well as in women business owners, professional services, and aboriginal banking.

“We’ve got lots going on and the pace hasn’t slowed at all,� said Brown.

Before returning to Alberta, Brown was senior vice-president of the Ontario regional division of BMO Bank of Montreal, responsible for the full range of services the bank provided to its 1.2 million personal and commercial customers at 238 branches throughout the Ontario region.

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

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