CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwired - June 4, 2013) - Ellen Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Corp. and U.S. Country Head of BMO Financial Group has announced her intention to retire from the company. She will be succeeded by Chris Begy, currently BMO Financial Group's Chief Auditor.
"Ellen has long been a trail-blazer, helping the bank break new ground. She served the bank with distinction through a period of significant growth as well as unprecedented regulatory change and economic uncertainty. Her technical skills are among the industry's best. Under her leadership in the U.S., she drove positive results in market share and financial performance and led our efforts in doubling the U.S. retail footprint. She made customer experience a priority and enhanced our brand and reputation," said Bill Downe, President and CEO of BMO Financial Group. "Ellen has served the bank and the community exceptionally well. She has earned great respect and admiration from everyone she has worked with and the customers she supported.
"I have worked closely with Ellen in a number of roles through her exceptional career with the bank and thank her for her partnership and commitment to our customers," added Mr. Downe.
"I am honored to have had this opportunity to serve our customers and work with our employees, business and community leaders as well as our Board and regulators over the last seven years," said Ellen Costello. "My sincere thanks goes to all of them, but in particular, BMO's dedicated and committed employees and to the BMO Financial Corp. Board of Directors for their support and guidance.
"BMO is well positioned to meet its customers' needs and expand in our U.S. markets. With a major acquisition and integration behind us, and an enhanced U.S. Governance framework in place, the time felt right to think about the next challenge for me. I am delighted Chris Begy will be taking over as my successor. He is an experienced, capable leader with strong knowledge of our U.S. business and the environment we operate in," added Ms. Costello.
Chris Begy will take on his new position as U.S. Country Head on August 1, 2013, assuming Ellen Costello's current accountabilities.
In commenting on Mr. Begy's appointment, Bill Downe noted that Ms. Costello and Mr. Begy have forged a strong partnership in building an effective governance structure for BMO's U.S. operations. "Chris is a well qualified and experienced successor who will quickly pick up and continue the bank on the path that Ellen has so clearly laid out," he said.
An announcement regarding Chris' successor will be made shortly.
Ms. Costello joined BMO in 1983. She has held leadership roles in Toronto, New York, Hong Kong and Chicago. She was involved in creating solutions for customers, leading teams, managing risk and developing and implementing strategy to produce results.
She has been a passionate advocate for the advancement of women and increasing diversity. For three consecutive years, American Banker has recognized the bank's senior women, under her leadership, as a top team. She has also been recognized consistently as one of the most powerful women in banking by American Banker.
Between 2006 and 2011, Ms. Costello served as Chief Executive Officer of Harris Bank (now BMO Harris Bank), the first woman to lead the bank in its 130-year history. Under her leadership, Harris achieved positive results in customer satisfaction, market share and financial performance, enhanced its brand and reputation, and improved its presence as a stronger community partner.
In 2011, she moved into her current broader role, where she is responsible for providing governance and regulatory oversight for all of BMO's U.S. businesses. This includes ensuring all U.S. activities of the bank are consistent with the values, principles and the strategic initiatives set by BMO and approved by the BMO Board.
Ms. Costello holds a BBA from St. Francis Xavier University and earned her MBA from Dalhousie University, where she recently received an Honorary Doctorate. She serves on a number of boards, including the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago – which she chairs – the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, After School Matters, the Executives' Club of Chicago and the Financial Services Roundtable, where she is on the executive committee. She is a member of the Commercial Club – its Executive and Civic Committees – the Chicago Network, and the Economic Club of Chicago. She was recently honored by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce with the prestigious Burnham Award.
Mr. Begy has led BMO's Corporate Audit function since 2001. In a 26-year career with the bank he has held leadership positions including Corporate Controller, Finance, and Chief Accountant. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he held a variety of roles with Coopers and Lybrand prior to joining the bank.
He is a chartered accountant and is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants. He has a deep background in accounting and audit disciplines and has contributed extensively to national and international organizations responsible for setting accounting and auditing standards. He is very active in the community and has helped a number of organizations through his professional expertise.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $555 billion as at April 30, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.