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Leading through crisis

The BMO Partners don’t know I’m writing this. As we all grapple with the impact of COVID-19, I wanted to share on behalf of our team how the Partners at BMO have gone about leading our team through the ever-evolving situation.

Keep calm

We have been through enormous changes in our office over the past year. We are transitioning to a new software package for our whole operation which includes running trials, intensive training and tweaking software to meet our needs. On top of that we had the impact of the drought which has a very real impact on our business – not just financially but emotionally, as we work closely with clients to support them through it. Throw a global pandemic on top of that, and it’s possible you’d see cracks.  There has been frustration at times, but through it all there has been a sense of calm.  Just one day at a time. If we take two steps forward, and one step back, we’ll still moving forward. But the resolve of the Partners to remain calm and work systematically and compassionately through each decision has been impressive/extraordinary/inspiring/first class/remarkable.


BMO has always had a people-first approach and it’s at times like these where you see it shine. The partners, while trying to continue business as usual and manage the logistics of moving a 50-strong team to home offices, kept checking in on their team and clients.  Phoning elderly clients to reassure them that they don’t need to come in to sign papers, we’d find another way. Brainstorming resilience strategies for small business clients who were about to be forced to shut their doors. Every call has been heart breaking, but they kept doing it.


This will have a considerable impact on the business, yet the Partners continue to put their team first.  Early on, any team members who were feeling uncertainty about being in the office due to their own underlying health issues were immediately given the option to work from home. Support has been offered to team members both in terms of practical measures and emotional support.


Part of our vision has always been to be nimble. The partners think outside the square and adapt quickly to changing environments, legislation and client needs.  This pandemic is requiring our usual version of ‘nimble’ to be on steroids. A senior team member has been designated to focus on government announcements including stimulus packages and support, creating detailed information and daily training for our team to ensure our clients are provided with current packages available to them.  All this is in addition to continuing to deliver tax compliance work that still needs be done, while arranging new office logistics.

Clear communication and humour

Mental noise in high-stress situations reduces the ability to process information. The partners have been careful to deliver honest, clear and concise updates on where we are at with our transition to remote work and what’s next. We’ve also been sending around fun photos and light hearted reflections on how our work-at-home transitions are going. Having a laugh has always been a part of our values and has continued to help us through this time.

Leading through crisis is incredibly difficult, and BMO won’t get it all right that’s for sure. There are too many unknowns in this current situation. But if business leaders approach this situation with the fortitude and compassion of the BMO Partners, they’ll be doing the best they can.

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Adrian Rasmussen

About the author

Adrian has been with BMO for over 30 years. He commenced in 1988 as BMO’s first trainee, studying his Bachelor of Business Degree and CPA on the job. He has a strong local heritage, having grown up around Dalby. Adrian has an intimate understanding of business and primary production and his qualifications and experience are backed by his genuine care and concern for people along with a READ MORE

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