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Telework | The head of the National Bank is worried about the future of downtown

(Montreal) Concerned about the liveliness of downtown Montreal, the senior director of the National Bank, Laurent Ferreira, calls the city’s businessmen.

“I invite the entire business community to participate in bringing life back to downtown Montreal. It is a shared responsibility and I urge you to respect it,” Laurent Ferreira said Friday during a speech to the bank’s shareholders at the annual meeting.

“I worry about downtown Montreal,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

The business community asks: “Go back to Montreal.” “Telecommuting, let’s face it, is white-collar work.”

The business community has a certain responsibility to revitalize the city center, he said, because the ecosystem depends on it. “Restaurants, cafes, etc. He can’t survive three days a week.”

A better balance is needed, in his opinion, between working in the office and at home. “If people come back downtown to work an average of 80% of the time, it’s better in the long run. If you’re running late in the 30-40% range, I don’t think small traders can survive with that kind of traffic.” .»

While Royal Bank – the largest bank in the country – requires its employees to work three to four days a week in the office from 1any May, the National Bank maintains its remote working guidelines which state that employees must spend at least 40% of their working time in the office. “But more and more we encourage our teams to come back,” says Laurent Ferreira.

The manager adds that it is not One size fits all “It depends on the difference. Some are 100% here. Others, more often. »

Photo by Patrick Sunfaun Press

President and CEO of the National Bank, Laurent Ferreira

The bank’s management says it notes that many companies have remote working policies that fall far short of the guidelines provided by the bank.

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Laurent Ferreira wants a team effort, but also sends a message of support to small traders.

Moving to the new headquarters

The senior chief of the National Bank hopes that moving Montreal Financial Corporation employees to the new head office from July will help revitalize the city’s downtown.

The construction of the building at the corner of Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue Robert Bourassa is nearing completion and the new building will be called “Place Banque Nationale”.

The organization will have 7,000 workstations to share with 12,000 employees in the new 40-story building, a half-billion-dollar project first announced in 2018.

Notice the discipline

Laurent Ferreira also stresses that the current economic context in the country does not worry him. He talks about an “adjustment period” to higher rates and says he notices a certain discipline in the consumer.

We’re seeing a decline in discretionary spending. We see that travel spending is still a bit high, but credit card balances are down. This is good behavior because the monthly installments will be higher for those who are required to renew their mortgages by 2025.”

“We will pass it,” the leader added, speaking of the population’s ability to withstand the current period of inflation.

We have people working. We still have a context in which most companies are looking for employees. As long as everyone has a job, we’ll get there.

Laurent Ferreira, President and CEO of the National Bank

Of course, he expects economic growth to decline as interest rates rise, “but as a state and as a province of Quebec, we have a fairly favorable and flexible situation,” he said.

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Board changes

Changes are being made to the Board of Directors of the National Bank. It will now have one less member, while three administrators will leave the organization: Pierre Thabet, Jean Houdy and André Savoy. In their place are two new faces: the CEO of Transat, Annick Guérard, and the big boss of Buerleau, Pierre Pomerleau.

A board member for five years, Robert Barry became the new chairman following the departure of Jean Houdi.