doctor with phonendoscope

The competition for doctors’ business ramped up on Wednesday when Bank of Montreal announced its suite of banking and wealth management services aimed at healthcare professionals.

In addition to financing options tailored to physicians and lines of credit for medical and dental students, BMO’s healthcare banking program includes wealth management advice for investments, succession planning and retirement.

BMO is the fourth of the Big Six banks to announce a program aimed specifically at healthcare professionals. TD Wealth Management launched a program aimed at healthcare providers in December. Bank of Nova Scotia, in collaboration with MD Financial Management, which it acquired in 2018, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce launched their own programs in March.

Regarding the timing of BMO’s announcement, Romal Bryce, BMO’s head of healthcare, North American industry sectors, said the bank has offered services tailored to healthcare professionals for the past 10 years.

“I think we have been a bit of a secret in this space for some time,” Bryce told Investment Executive. “It’s just that now we’ve decided to be a bit more visible about what we’re doing and how we’re approaching the market.”

Bryce said he believes the bank’s offering will stand out in a market segment that has seen increasing competition in recent months.

“In terms of how we differentiate ourselves, it really comes down to the people,” he said, noting that BMO has hired staff with healthcare experience to work in the program, rather than train bankers on how to be healthcare experts.

“What the banking industry has done a great job of historically is trying to make business bankers healthcare experts,” Bryce said. “I think we’ve done it a little differently — we’ve tried to make healthcare experts business bankers and bankers as a whole.”

Bryce said clients can expect tailored wealth management advice that considers issues important to physicians, such as government restrictions on income splitting and the taxation of passive income.

“From the wealth management perspective, what you’re going to see is a much more personalized approach to healthcare professionals and us being cognizant of some of the recent tax changes that have impacted medical professionals,” he said.

With four of the big banks now offering programs aimed at healthcare practitioners — and the possibility of other banks following suit — the playing field has become increasingly crowded, but Bryce said he welcomes the competition.

“Competition is a healthy thing,” he said. “It’s good for consumers, it’s good for banking and it forces innovation.”