Eligible Dividends Designation
For the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada) and any similar provincial and territorial legislation, BMO designates all dividends paid or deemed to be paid on both its common and preferred shares as "eligible dividends", unless indicated otherwise.
The credit ratings assigned to BMO's short-term and senior long-term debt securities by external rating agencies are important in the raising of both capital and funding to support our business operations. Maintaining strong credit ratings allows us to access the capital markets at competitive pricing levels. Should our credit ratings experience a material downgrade, our cost of funds would likely increase significantly and our access to funding and capital through capital markets could be reduced. A material downgrade of our ratings could have other consequences, including those set out in Note 10 to the audited consolidated financial statements on page 143 of BMO's 2012 Annual Report.
On January 28, 2013, Moody's completed a review of most of Canada's banks and lowered BMO's long-term debt ratings and that of the other banks that were under review by one notch. Moody's also lowered the subordinated debt ratings of BMO and all our Canadian peers. The credit ratings assigned to BMO's senior debt credit ratings by the other three rating agencies were unchanged in the quarter and all four have a stable outlook. All four ratings are indicative of high-grade, high-quality issues. The ratings are as follows: DBRS (AA); Fitch (AA-); Moody's (Aa3); and Standard & Poor's (S&P) (A+).
Transactions with Related Parties
In the ordinary course of business, we provide banking services to our key management personnel, joint ventures and associates on the same terms that we offer to our customers for those services. A select suite of customer loan and mortgage products is offered to our employees at rates normally made available to our preferred customers. We also offer employees a fee-based subsidy on annual credit card fees.
Share-based payments granted to key management personnel are discussed in Note 27 to the audited consolidated financial statements on pages 168 to 169 of BMO's 2012 Annual Report.
BMO enters into a number of off-balance-sheet arrangements in the normal course of operations. The most significant of these are Credit Instruments, Special Purpose Entities (SPEs), and Guarantees, which are described on pages 64, 65, 66 and 70 of BMO's 2012 Annual Report as well as in Notes 5 and 7 to the unaudited interim consolidated financial statements. We consolidate all of our SPEs, except for certain Canadian customer securitization and structured finance vehicles. See the Select Financial Instruments section for comments on any significant changes to these arrangements during the quarter ended January 31, 2013.
Accounting Policies and Critical Accounting Estimates
Significant accounting policies are described in the notes to our audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended October 31, 2012, together with a discussion of certain accounting estimates that are considered particularly important as they require management to make significant judgments, some of which relate to matters that are inherently uncertain. Readers are encouraged to review that discussion.
Future Changes in Accounting Policies
Effective November 1, 2013, BMO will adopt new standards on Employee Benefits, Fair Value Measurement, Consolidated Financial Statements, Investment in Associates and Joint Ventures, Offsetting, and Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities. Additional information on the new standards and amendments to existing standards can be found in Note 1 to the audited consolidated financial statements on pages 124 to 127 of BMO's 2012 Annual Report.
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