IROQUOIS — Residents of this Seaway village learned this week their Bank of Montreal branch will close.
BMO says operations will be amalgamated into the Morrisburg branch after Iroquois shuts down on Oct. 19. BMO will also leave behind a “full-service ATM machine” in Iroquois, a unit that’s supposed to be in place by May.
The move reduces the village to a one-bank town — the Royal Bank still occupies a spot on the opposite side of the village shopping plaza — and ends BMO’s 116-year presence in the community.
Consumers’ increasing shift to self-serve digital modes of banking — ATM, mobile-app and online — and a corresponding decline in over-the-counter transactions are cited as a key reason for the shutdown. Staffing in Iroquois has dwindled to one manager and just two customer service representatives.
Most of the branch’s customers will have received a letter in the mail informing them of the impending Morrisburg merger by the end of this week, confirmed Ralph Marranca, Director, Corporate Media Relations and Issues Management for BMO Financial Group.
“We also began to proactively reach out to our customers in advance of this mailing – in branch, outreach calls — to share our plans with them and talk about how we can make the transition to the new branch as smooth as possible,” Marranca told Nation Valley News by email.
The in-branch communications strategy included a prominent display board announcing the change that appeared beside the existing ATM earlier this week.
“By and large, our customers have received the news very positively saying they’re appreciative that BMO is trying to contact them early and trying to make the transition as easy for them as we can,” said Marranca.
In his email, the spokesperson highlighted the already superior amenities of the Morrisburg branch: better and more ample parking; more offices for private consultations; two full-service ABMs; the branch’s location on Morrisburg’s “Main Street”; and a “full” complement of specialized staff.
Impending renovations at the Morrisburg site also played into the decision to merge the branches “under one roof.” It thus “made sense” to have single branch with “a broader range of specialized financial services that suits the needs of all our clients, existing and future,” he explained. “We felt we could better accommodate customers’ growing demand for face-to-face advisory services out of what will be a larger, refurbished location where many of our Iroquois customers already do a significant amount of their banking.”
BMO recognizes the new location “is not the perfect solution for everyone but we’ll do our best to try to make the transition as smooth as we can,” he added. That effort includes bringing Morrisburg branch employees into Iroquois to get to know those customers.
“No decisions” have been made about the Iroquois employees, who have “some time to think about what they’d like to do going forward. They see this as a good opportunity to reflect upon the opportunities both within and outside the bank that this change presents. Either way, we’ll be supportive,” he assured.
Marranca also pointed out that BMO remains “deeply involved” in Iroquois through various charitable endeavours and activities.
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