By Tony Comper with Bruce Dowbiggin
"Anthony (Tony) Comper likes to say that he can sum up his remarkable career
in Canadian banking and life in 25 tales. In a business often filled with big personalities and memorable characters,
Tony’s motto is Festina Lente— make haste slowly. That wry self deprecation is typical of a man who prepared for his financial
career by reading Chaucer. Architect, implementor and integrator, he produced the new model for Canadian banking in a career at BMO.
Tony certainly can boast of having been there as both a banker and, via his
programming skills, one of the early proponents of automation technology in the industry. His career corresponded with a
tech and service transformation of the financial industry. From the 10 AM-3 PM days of handwritten account books to today’s
automated 24-hour model where customers do much of their business at all hours via the internet, Mr. Comper helped write some of the
first innovative code for the Bank.
As Personal Account: 25 Tales shows, he also oversaw the bank’s evolution from traditional lender
to facilitator in the market, partnering with business to create a more vibrant source of capital. That innovation included Tony’s
role in integrating women and new Canadians into BMO while fighting anti-semitism in the community via Fighting .Antisemitism Together (FAST).
As well, he was critical in creating new banking models for the Indigenous community.
His career at BMO culminated, first with his tenure as the Chief Operating Officer,
and then as the bank’s Chief Executive Officer from 1998- 2006. Under Tony, Bank of Montreal morphed into BMO, a world financial
brand. He was also key to the vibrant marriage of BMO’s brand to sports ventures such as BMO Field, arts festivals and community events.
He was happy to let the bank’s successes speak for themselves and then turn his
energies to the arts, sports and charity. But no one should assume that this suggests anything less than a steely resolve to
move BMO from its simple origins as the Bank of Montreal in 1817 to an inclusive business.
His strong hand on the future is unshakeable in Personal Account: 25 Tales,
and despite setbacks, has become the model of today’s social compassionate financial officer. “He became CEO during a time
of uncertainty and increasingly fierce competition,” noted BMO chairman David Galloway. But he "acted quickly, made tough choices
and streamlined and refocused the company, improving efficiency and profitability."