BMO Harris Bank, the U.S. banking arm of one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, has opened its first office in Los Angeles.

The office is located downtown in City National Plaza and will focus on commercial banking services. It is the first permanent presence in L.A. for BMO Harris parent company Bank of Montreal, which was founded in 1817.

BMO’s Los Angeles office lead, Tom Jennings, has worked in the local financial services industry for 12 years. He said the bank’s expansion into L.A. was primarily about accessing the massive Southern California market for commercial banking.

“There is just such a huge opportunity here,” Jennings said. “You have to make sure you are getting the correct people and the correct team together.”

That team includes nine commercial bankers based in the downtown office. Jennings said they will work with the bank’s roughly 20 other commercial bankers, who are based in Irvine.

The L.A. move is a part of BMO’s larger strategy to expand its operations across the United States, according to Jennings.

It is the latest in a string of U.S. expansions for the Canadian institution’s commercial banking business. Over the last decade, BMO has established commercial banking offices in five major cities where it previously had no permanent presence.

In addition to Los Angeles, BMO opened locations in Atlanta in 2012; Dallas in 2016; Columbus, Ohio, in 2017; and Fort Worth, Texas, in 2019.

Jennings said the ability to facilitate cross-border business for companies with a presence in Canada will be a core selling point of BMO’s services in L.A. This includes both U.S. businesses with operations north of the border, as well as Canadian firms with business in Southern California.

“That’s absolutely one of our big strengths,” he said.

BMO also has a media and entertainment banking business with existing operations in Los Angeles, according to Jennings, although this team is based in Canada.

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