We’re no Goldman, says BMO Harris Bank chief investment officer

By Becky Yerak

Hours after a departing Goldman Sachs executive alleged that the Wall Street firm had lost its moral compass,  the chief investment officer of BMO Harris Bank assured his clients that the Canadian-owned institution is motivated to satisfy its clients.

On March 14, Jack Ablin, the CIO of Harris’ private banking arm in Chicago, sent an open letter to his clients, saying that his institution’s success is tied to theirs. His e-mail was prompted by a New York Times column in which a departing Goldman Sachs executive excoriated his firm for its practices.

The markedly different letter from BMO Harris Bank’s Ablin read: 

“Ever since the financial crisis, we continually hear claims that Wall Street firms put their self interest ahead of their clients’ needs.   An editorial in today’s New York Times personifies the point.  After 12 years as a managing director at a prominent Wall Street institution, a managing director states that he has decided to resign, citing in his opinion a culture where profits come before the interests of clients.

“This tension between client’s interests and a firm’s bottom line has been around for decades.  Sometimes what’s in the best interest of the client may not reap the greatest pecuniary rewards in the short term.  In my experience, however, client success and firm success can peacefully coexist; in fact thrive.  The key is timeframe. 

“Having served clients for nearly 30 years I can tell you that the long term success of any institution, whether in the financial field or not, depends on the long-term success and satisfaction of its clients.  This is a philosophy that I can proudly say motivate us at BMO-Harris Private Bank to come to work each day.

“Please do not hesitate to call me with comments. 

Best Regards,

Jack Ablin

Chief Investment Officer”

Here’s a link to a story about the Goldman letter: