William Downe served as the chief executive officer of BMO Financial Group from March 2007 until October 31, 2017.
Downe joined Bank of Montreal in 1983 and held a variety of senior management positions in Canada and the U.S. In 1999, he was appointed vice-chair of Bank of Montreal, and in 2001, he was named deputy chair of BMO Financial Group and chief executive officer of BMO Nesbitt Burns. In 2006, he was named chief operating officer of BMO Financial Group.
Downe is lead director of ManpowerGroup Inc.; a member of the Rush System board; a member of the Rush University Medical Center Board of Trustees; and co-chair of the Rush Campaign Executive Committee. He is an advisory board member of the Rotman School of Management’s Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He also serves on the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs’ North American Free Trade Agreement Council.
Downe is an honorary director of Catalyst Inc. and was chair of Catalyst’s Canadian Advisory Board. He served on the board of the Business Council of Canada; the board of the International Monetary Conference (IMC); and the National Executive Committee of the 2015 Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference. He is past president of the Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Advisory Council.
As an active philanthropist, Downe is a member of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation Board and is past chair of the hospital’s Board of Directors.. He is also a leader of The Campaign for the University of Toronto and served as chairman of the 2009 Campaign Cabinet for the United Way of Greater Toronto.
Downe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MBA from the University of Toronto. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University.
He was recognized in September 2016 by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Institute and received its Award for Corporate Citizenship. In October 2017, Downe received the Rotman Lifetime Achievement Award by the University of Toronto, and in 2003, he received the Rotman Distinguished Business Alumni Award from the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management.
Downe is a Member of the Order of Canada.