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RBC shakes up leadership ranks, splits personal and commercial banking unit



RBC shakes up leadership ranks, splits personal and commercial banking unit

Royal Bank of Canada has announced a major leadership shakeup and divided its largest business unit as Canada’s largest lender integrates its takeover of HSBC Bank Canada.

RBC is splitting up its largest revenue-generating engine by segmenting the personal and commercial divisions as standalone teams. In March, the bank completed its acquisition of HSBC Canada, bringing in the lender’s sizeable commercial lending and mortgages portfolios.

Chief executive officer Dave McKay has been in the top job at the lender for a decade, which is the typical tenure for a Canadian bank CEO. Analysts and investors have been watching senior leadership moves for succession clues at several of the country’s biggest banks, where few women have been positioned to take on the role of CEO.

“Although the exec changes may increase the speculation on CEO succession, we do not anticipate any immediate announcements on CEO Dave McKay’s departure,” Jefferies analyst John Aiken said in a note to clients.

After seven years as head of personal and commercial banking, Neil McLaughlin will become the head of wealth management. Most recently, he assisted with the acquisition of HSBC, which added 780,000 clients in retail and commercial banking.

By splitting up the personal and commercial divisions, RBC has promoted two executives to oversee the separate businesses.

Erica Nielsen, executive vice-president of personal financing products, will become head of personal banking. Since joining RBC in 2012, she has held roles spanning home equity financing, personal lending and client strategies, payments, and personal savings and investments. Last year, RBC broadened her role to include the bank’s U.S. and Caribbean banking divisions.

To lead its commercial banking division, RBC has tapped Sean Amato-Gauci, currently executive vice-president of business financial services. He joined RBC in 1995 and has held roles across personal and commercial banking, group risk management and finance. Mr. Amato-Gauci worked in a range of product areas, including consumer banking, credit cards, payments and home equity financing.

The bank said that the changes, which take effect Sept. 1, are meant to position RBC leadership to make decisions faster and adjust to the larger size of its business.

“The unique skills, experiences and perspectives they bring to the table will be invaluable as we embark on our next phase of growth and further deepen trusted client relationships across all our businesses,” Mr. McKay said in a statement Thursday.

As Mr. McLaughlin steps into his new role, RBC’s current head of wealth management and insurance Doug Guzman – who has been in the role since 2015 – will become deputy chair of RBC, advising on company-wide priorities and helping manage relationships with some of the bank’s biggest individual, family, corporate, institutional and government clients.

The bank also named Jennifer Publicover, who is CEO of RBC Insurance, as group head of insurance, joining the executive leadership team. In a previous role as senior vice-president of products and strategy for wealth management, she assisted in the bank’s acquisition of Britain-based Brewin Dolphin, which created one of the largest wealth managers in the region. She joined RBC in 2017 after working in investment banking and capital markets at U.S. bank Morgan Stanley.

In April, RBC fired chief financial officer Nadine Ahn after an employee complaint sparked an internal investigation that concluded she had an undisclosed personal relationship with a colleague which resulted in promotions and pay raises.

RBC appointed senior vice-president, finance and controller Katherine Gibson as interim CFO while it conducts a search for Ms. Ahn’s replacement. The bank’s leadership reorganization announcement did not include any updates on its search for a new CFO.

“While we believe that the changes highlight RBC’s bench strength, we are surprised that there was no resolution on the bank’s CFO position in conjunction with the announcements with Katherine Gibson still retaining the ‘interim’ tag,” Mr. Aiken said.

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