BMO Harris launches suite of services for affluent seniors

By Kate McCaffery | May 5, 2005 | Last updated on May 5, 2005
3 min read

(May 5, 2005) Financial planning competition in the country just got a little bit more intense with BMO Harris Private Banking publicly launching their new lineup of services for affluent seniors.

Known as enCircle, the wealth management program aims to help seniors and their adult children cope with lifestyle changes that inevitably come with aging. Seniors who have at least $500,000 in investable assets with the bank can make arrangements to have everything taken care of for them, from bill payments to estate planning and wealth management.

The program is backed up by a team of chartered financial analysts and portfolio managers, trust professionals who can work on estate and wealth transition planning and traditional financial services like basic banking.

In some ways, the program bears similarities to family office services in the United States that cater to ultra high-net-worth clients. “I wouldn’t want it to be positioned as a financial office type of service. The financial office really organizes the life of a wealthy family at a much higher level,” says Terry Jenkins, executive managing director of BMO Harris Private Banking. “This is more for the high-net-worth segment. The family office is for the very wealthy families in the industry. However, it does many of the same things. The philosophy’s the same. We would organize their bill payments, help make their day to day life easier, organize their income, that type of thing, but not to the same level that the family office would.”

He says simply organizing income flow with assets accumulated in different places over the course of a senior’s lifetime can be a challenge. The exercise isn’t any easier for adult children charged with the task.

“The clients that have come on board since this was first made available in January, over half of the people we are working with are the middle-aged children, the adult children,” says Jean Blacklock, managing director, personal trust services, at BMO Harris Private Banking.

Since making the plan available internally, Jenkins says the program has reached 80% of the company’s annual objectives.

“The early acceptance has been excellent,” he says. Wider statistics also seem to support the bank’s endeavor. According to sources on the enCircle advisory board, comprised of health professionals and geriatric specialists, Canada’s 65-plus population of approximately 3.5 million people is projected to double by 2020.

“Canada’s population is increasing slowly. So it’s not that we’re going to wake up one day and find our population has doubled and therefore we’re going to panic about that, but there is some cause for concern,” says Dr. Margaret MacAdam, president of Age Advantage, associate professor in the faculty of social work at University of Toronto and part of the enCircle advisory board. She says costs for most of the services that people need to stay at home in their community will likely go up relative to the economy’s performance, but the big issue people face will likely be a shortage of health services professionals.

To help adult children find the right services for their aging parents, the bank also aspires to provide healthcare resources, knowledge and referrals to consultants who can help identify lifestyle needs and suppliers.

“We’re not in health or home care,” Blacklock says. “So we assembled and advisory counsel of Canada’s leading geriatricians, a very senior person from the nursing profession and Margaret [MacAdam], who is a very senior professional in the area of social policy. This group will help us sift through information and allow us to provide clients with a credible place to start.”

The enCircle program, in development since February 2004, is part of the bank’s expansion programs it began in the last five years. Other programs the company recently developed include philanthropic services, succession planning and wealth transition planning.

Filed by Kate McCaffery,


Kate McCaffery