RBC Wealth Management in the (Euro) money

RBC Wealth Management recently received some serious recognition from its peers, taking three top slots at the 2010 Euromoney Private Banking Awards presented earlier this year. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks with Deanna Bidwell, Managing Director of RBC Wealth Management for the Caribbean (head quartered in the Cayman Islands) about the significance of such accolades and the future for the bank.

Fresh from her trip to London to receive her impressive glass trophy at a glamorous black tie event at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms, Deanna Bidwell is naturally delighted with her team’s accolade.

“RBC Wealth Management Caribbean came first in the best private banking services category for the Caribbean. We joined RBC Wealth Management in Canada and Jersey, both of which also received top placement. RBC Wealth Management also came third overall for North America,” Bidwell explains. “The most important aspect of this win is the fact that the Euromoney Awards are given to those banks voted best among their peers, which is a huge honour for us.”

RBC Wealth Management, a segment of RBC, directly serves affluent and high net worth clients and is a huge operation globally. The international arm of RBC Wealth Management services over 35,000 high net worth individuals and institutions through more than 30 offices in the British Isles, Continental Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Latin America and North America. RBC Wealth Management globally has more than CAN$500 billion of assets under administration, over CAN$245 billion of assets under management and more than 4,500 financial consultants, advisors, private bankers and trust officers

A strong starting point
Bidwell says that although it has been a tough eighteen months or so for financial institutions across the globe, RBC Wealth Management was well positioned to weather the worst of the economic crisis and was therefore able to provide a consistently high service for its clients, which has bode the organisation extremely well for future growth.

“Unlike some of our peers we were able to strategically place ourselves in a position of strength from the outset. For example, RBC is part of the Canadian banking system, which has been named for the past two years as the soundest in the world by the World Economic Forum. All of this has meant we did not have to look at laying off staff or divesting ourselves of certain service offerings. We did not have to call in any loans or worry about our equity,” she offers.

“Instead we’ve been able to focus on customer service excellence via the hiring of strong staff and introducing new and better products for our customers. We’ve been able to operate with a long term focus and vision that has not wavered during the crisis.”

Bidwell says that as the staff at RBC Wealth Management have guided their clients to focus on operating more “leanly and strategically” through these tough economic times, so, too, has the bank. “We could hardly ask this of our clients if we were not setting the example in the first place,”she states.

Looking ahead
As head of RBC Wealth Management in the Caribbean, Bidwell oversees operations in the Cayman Islands, Barbados and the Bahamas and says that consolidating efforts to the Cayman Islands in terms of Trust administration is next on the agenda.

“We have a particularly strong, intelligent and hard working team in the Cayman Islands office, so we will be growing the Trust administration side to make it a central point for the entire Caribbean,” she confirms.

The Trust admin back office team is at present around eight people plus around seven accountants and Bidwell anticipates that this will grow further in the coming months as the admin functions are consolidated in the Cayman Islands.

“We are committed to the Caribbean and our only vision is to grow,” she says. “RBC has had operations in the Caribbean for over 100 years.”

In a bid to grow talent from the ground up, Bidwell says she is also extremely excited to be working with local educational facilities to see how young people can be exposed to the industry, in particular the field of Trust.

Bidwell says: “We are launching a training programme this year aimed at introducing young people to the Trust world. We are keen to encourage more young people into the industry via internships or perhaps introducing an education programme that will allow youngsters to gain a real feel for the industry. The industry is growing and we want Cayman to grow with it.”

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L to R: Mike Lagopolous, CEO of RBC International Wealth Management; Deanna Bidwell, Managing Director, RBC Wealth Management Caribbean and Steve Romeril, RBC Jersey.

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