Company Profiles

INTERVIEW: RBC Wealth Management Says New Sales, Client Segment Strategy Reaping Rewards

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 2 December 2016


This publication caught up with RBC's wealth management team recently to find out how the bank's strategy is taking shape.

As goes a famous line from the old TV show, The A-Team: “I love it when a plan comes together.” And over at the wealth management arm of Royal Bank of Canada in the UK, they seem to be in the mood to fire up a cigar.

Earlier in November, RBC Wealth Management’s UK business appointed Ben Taylor as head of its newly-minted wealth transfer and retirees segment, aimed at working with people planning for retirement and setting up estates and structures for their descendants. (Taylor joined RBC in 2012 as a relationship manager and used to work for HSBC.) Separately, in September, RBC WM appointed John Younger as managing director, sales and relationship management, responsible for the business owners and entrepreneurs client segment team. RBC Wealth Management also recently appointed Stuart Mauger as director of the sales and relationship management team within its multi-family office segment. That role was a new one; Mauger is based in Guernsey.

And in one of the most colourful changes affecting RBC and its segment offerings, last November the Toronto-listed banking group completed its acquisition of City National, a California-based bank with a long list of Hollywood clients, propelling the Canadian parent up the pecking order of firms able to serve those from the entertainment business. 

These are busy times. Tony Johnson, who was made head of sales and relationship management at RBC Wealth Management over a year ago, joined segment heads and other colleagues at his firm’s Riverbank House offices in London's City financial district to discuss progress with WealthBriefing. It was hard to miss a buzz of optimism and forward movement.

“We are implementing a sustainable client coverage model to keep us in good shape for future years,” Johnson said. One of the advantages of these segments, he said, is they allow managers to talk to clients “in their own language". “We want to build expertise and insight into the like-minded buying behaviours within these segments.”

These are heady times for the Canadian bank, and it appears that results are starting to bear fruit, even when the one-off impact of the City National deal is stripped out. In August, RBC said its wealth arm reported a 36 per cent surge in net income to C$388 million ($300 million) at the end of its third quarter. (City National contributed C$82 million to net income.) There were benefits from the firm’s efficiency management activities.

Segment heads
Johnson (also interviewed by this publication here) was flanked by Ross Jennings, managing director, UK; Mark Hassett, MD, corporate executives in the wealth manager’s British Isles business; Sandy Swinton, MD for sports, media and entertainment, and Younger. (Not present at the meeting was Michael Reed, who is MD heading up RBC’s multi-family offices segment.)

The segmental approach is part of a drive by RBC, its managers say, to offer a highly specialised and professional form of wealth management, which is necessary given the bank does not have a high street presence in the UK. Instead, it is a business that requires its managers to network, to work with centres of influence such as lawyers, accountants and other intermediaries.

As one of the most recent joiners, Younger (business owners and entrepreneurs) kicked off by pointing out that his background marks him out as “unconventional” – he started at RBC Capital Markets in 1992, moving to a variety of roles, including a stint inside the corridors of power at the Bank of England, before hearing the RBC call in 2016 and rejoining the firm. Much of his banking life has been spent on the trading floor, originating solutions for clients, a background he says stands him and his new area in good stead.

“This is often about origination...about bringing forward sophisticated market solutions,” he said. Business owners often require help with credit, financing and development of their companies – a private banker who also gets the corporate financing and investment banking side of the deal makes sense. And his time at the Bank of England – coinciding with a period when the BoE was wrestling with a post-crisis financial world – means he brings an understanding to RBC of what policymakers think. This is, to say the least, a useful commodity.

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