How BMO’s Bold Commitments Drive Customer Loyalty

During Earth Month the media are inundated with messages about brands’ position on sustainability. At The Wise Marketer, we believe it’s essential to highlight the best of these stories as they frame the future of cause-related customer loyalty. At a time when every brand can use their platforms to talk about important values ​​such as commitment to climate action and sustainability, what ensures that these messages resonate instead of being dismissed as greenwashing? And how can brands establish viable links between their corporate social responsibility initiatives and customer loyalty?

Consumers have the power to reward loyalty to brands that they believe help them best live their personal values. So what helps customers choose the right brands to support? Besides listening to key messages at the “right” time, what are the main drivers of cause-related customer loyalty? Brands need to be so true to the values ​​of their CSR policies and ensure they are integrated into their strategy, business objectives, operational practices and sustained customer experience. Brands that consistently demonstrate this alignment of CSR policy with customer preferences will win with customers in the future.

Sustainability isn’t the only dominant value conversation at play. Big math on how to be truly inclusive and committed to equity and diversity inspires clients to dig deeper. We’ve even written in the past about independent research that found 60% of US consumers say brand values ​​influence their buying decisions.

The brands that will succeed in creating cause-related customer loyalty and engagement are those that ardently embed their values ​​into their customer messaging. This will differentiate their organizations as industry leaders and help them achieve their business goals while remaining committed to their environmental and social ambitions.

Recently named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices World Index, BMO Financial Group aims to be one of those brands. In 2022, BMO was also recognized for the third consecutive year as the most sustainable bank in North America on the Corporate Knights 100 Most Sustainable Companies list.

In its work to be an industry leader, BMO declares its Purpose: To Boldly Develop Good in Business and Life and it is on this objective that they align the impact they create in the face of the most pressing environmental, economic and social challenges.

Customers of BMO Harris’ U.S. credit products, whose businesses, along with personal banking customers, account for up to 21% of BMO’s reported net income, can be assured of their direct impact on the stock. weather by choosing the BMO Mastercard. As a member of the Priceless Planet Coalition through Mastercard, BMO, together with other businesses and consumers, is working toward the Coalition’s goal of restoring 100 million trees in five years.

BMO is the first Priceless Planet Coalition North American partner to operationalize how cardholders can support conservation and tree plantingsays Adam Levy, CLMP, US Loyalty Program Manager for BMO Harris. “Through BMO Harris Rewards, customers can support Conservation International by redeeming points for planting trees. They also have the opportunity to help plant even more trees when they opt out of paper credit card statements. »

BMO Harris customers have the option of redeeming just 500 points equal to $5 to plant a tree. This is an achievable milestone even for new customers so they can make a meaningful impact right from the start. Customers may feel committed to a buyback option that has a high perceived social value due to the environmental good it provides.

BMO Capital Markets, which as an operating group accounts for nearly a quarter of BMO’s reported net income, last year launched a first “Professional Trees” initiative. In 2021, BMO Capital Markets donated a portion of global markets revenue from transactions to fund the planting of trees for Earth Day and raised enough funds in its inaugural year to plant more than 100,000 trees in partnership with Priceless Planet Coalition. In 2022, the now annual initiative aims to match last year’s results to continue reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions with this nature-based solution that also creates jobs, reforests land and recharges local ecosystems. It’s a way for BMO to stay true to its purpose of cultivating good and being its customers’ primary partner in building a sustainable future.

Clients can also see that BMO is acting on their goal at the business level. BMO outlined its bold commitments for 2025 and included a dashboard of its performance against those commitments in the BMO Financial Group 2021 Sustainability Report and Public Accountability Statement. Stakeholders, including potential BMO Financial Services customers, can see BMO’s bold commitment to a sustainable future, expressed as their goal to “be our customers’ primary partner – aiming for net-zero funded emissions in our loans by 2050”. BMO reports:

  • 176 billion dollars mobilized against a target of 300 billion dollars in capital to clients seeking lasting results (through loans, subscriptions, advisory services and green, social and sustainable investments)
  • $1.048 billion delivered against a target of $700 billion in assets under management/advisory through BMO GMA aligned with sustainable goals (Overlay (reo®) responsible service and strategy engagement manager)
  • $69.4 million deployed in impact investment fundswith a capital of 250 million dollars

With this bold pledge, BMO communicates its resolve to have large-scale and institutional impact for climate action. This top-down approach does not limit how BMO Bold grows good. It can be observed that the culture is so permeated by this common purpose that other values-based programs are initiated from the bottom up, as is the case at the regional level through BMO Harris. In line with BMO’s bold commitment to an inclusive society, BMO Harris Rewards has introduced rewards redemption options that allow BMO Harris customers to redeem their rewards for charitable donations to the relief effort. UNHCR in Ukraine.

“We are proud to have been able to operationalize this initiative so that we have the foundation to respond to the world around us as humanitarian assistance needs emerge,” says Levy. “This initiative has been tested and we have learned from its implementation to be able to initiate such responses in a turnkey manner in the future. We are also proud of how we can amplify our response across the organization, engaging frontline bankers, customer service teams and others to help our customers meet the needs of the wider community.

It is this organization-wide commitment to the common purpose that allows BMO to authentically live its values ​​and attract customers who choose them because of these shared values. Whether intentionally or not, BMO has created a cause-related customer loyalty framework that others can follow.

When brands demonstrate leadership and commitment to global environmental and social causes, customers should expect them to not only communicate, but also participate. By engaging with brands that participate as an institution, customers can feel validated in their own choices to live by these shared values. Brands that help customers live these values ​​can feel rewarded for providing even more opportunities for their customers to exercise their agency as global citizens to effect change and do good. When customers feel like they can connect with a larger movement, they can feel better about doing business and building loyalty with a brand that authentically lives shared values ​​that support the common good.

How BMO’s Bold Commitments Drive Customer Loyalty






Joseph P. Harris