RBC plans to start a direct-to-consumer bank in U.S.
Royal Bank of Canada plans to start a new “direct-to-consumer” business in the U.S. to increase deposits and ultimately broaden out its offerings to a more mainstream clientele.
The expansion is likely to come at the end of 2020 or early next year, and will be focused initially on higher-net-worth customers, CEO David McKay said Friday during the bank’s earnings call.
“The loan book has been growing faster than the deposit book, so growing our deposit strategy has become of paramount importance,” McKay said. “You’ll see us bring in some new capability around that to make sure that we’re able to continue to grow both our loans and deposits.”
RBC is looking to build on its U.S. banking operations that include City National Bank, the Los Angeles-based commercial-and-private lender known as the “Bank to the Stars,” along with a wealth manager and a Georgia-based bank that serves about 400,000 Canadians living in the U.S. The Georgia business was left over after Royal Bank sold its money-losing U.S. retail lender to ENC Financial Services Group in 2012.
Royal Bank’s U.S. banking operations are evolving beyond commercial lending and wealth management, McKay said. The planned expansion would help fund the company’s longer-term growth as it shifts “a little down-market” from ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth clients to “super-affluent” customers, with a “direct-to-consumer strategy” coming later, he said.
A new digital bank has been in the works for a while, Chief Financial Officer Rod Bolger said in an interview. Back in 2014, then-CEO Gordon Nixon spoke of taking a second run at U.S. consumer banking, using new technology. The latest plans won’t mark a return to bricks-and-mortar retail banking in the U.S., Bolger said Friday.
“It’s consistent with our strategy,” Bolger said. “It’s basically building capability as we build out our second home market, and it’s building a broader spectrum of products and services for today’s affluent and high-net-worth consumer.”