Banks, specifically the Big Five of Canada, are notoriously great investments. Often seen as a gauge of the overall economy, banks have long established themselves as being must-haves for any portfolio.

Here’s a look at Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) and why this is the bank you should be investing in.

Bank of Montreal: buy and forget

Some of the first things prospective investors will note is the the impressive dividend Bank of Montreal pays as well as how long the bank has been paying that dividend to shareholders.

Bank of Montreal pays a quarterly dividend of $0.86 per share, giving the stock a 4.11% yield given the current stock price. Even better is that the bank has been paying dividends for well over 150 years and has steadily been increasing that payout over the years.

Bank of Montreal currently trades at $83.70 and is up year-to-date by 7.2%. Investors curious to the long-term performance of the stock will note the nearly 40% increase in the stock price over the past five years, which averages out to a healthy 8% increase each year.

Due to the growth of the stock over time and the consistency and growth of the dividend, Bank of Montreal truly is a buy-and-forget type of stock.

Bank of Montreal is well diversified

Over the past few quarters Canadian banks have been setting aside funds to handle credit losses stemming from the prolonged weakness in the oil sector, which has spilled into other areas of the economy. Bank of Montreal is no exception to this; the bank has $201 million as of the most recent quarter stashed away for that purpose.

The most recent earnings period for the bank came with a mixed message. The bank managed to post a healthy net profit of $973 million, or $1.45 per share. While this is by no means a bad quarter for the bank, the results did represent a drop of $26 million, or $0.04 per share, over the same quarter last year. Equally lower was earnings, which amounted to a 4% drop over the same quarter last year.

The bank has also done exceptionally well in branching out to other markets. Since the crash of 2008 Bank of Montreal has made eight acquisitions that boosted the bank’s exposure to U.S., European, and Asian markets.

The acquisition of General Electric’s Transportation division late last year is potentially one of the most lucrative for the bank. The Transportation division is tasked with providing leases for trucking industry, of which the company has a nearly 20% hold over the market.

Another recent acquisition is Minneapolis-based Green Holcomb Fisher. The company is an advisory firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions, having worked on over 100 deals in the past five years. The group will be merged into the BMO Capital Markets department, adding an additional 30 investment bankers to the department.

In my opinion, Bank of Montreal represents a great opportunity for investors looking for a stock that can provide both dividend income and growth prospects over the long term.

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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.