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Goldsmith vows to be an active chairman at RBC's City National

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Unlike a Western movie cliche, City National Bank’s Russell Goldsmith says he won’t ride off into the sunset when he surrenders his CEO role at Hollywood’s “bank to the stars.”

Goldsmith, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Bank of Canada’s Los Angeles-based lender, said he plans to be “quite active” after handing over the top job to Kelly Coffey in about three months.

“Kelly is an enormously talented, experienced banker, but I think for the first year or two there’ll be an added dimension of working with her and helping her make the transition into this new role,” Goldsmith, 68, said Friday in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

Coffey, JPMorgan’s U.S. private bank chief, becomes CEO of City National Feb. 1, the Toronto-based lender said last week in a statement. Coffey, one of American Banker’s most powerful women in 2018, will become the fourth CEO in the 65-year history of the bank. Goldsmith, who also leads RBC Wealth Management in the U.S., remains chairman of the bank co-founded by his grandfather.

Established in 1954, City National is known for show-business connections. It has funded movies and catered to Hollywood VIPs including actor Kirk Douglas, director Steven Spielberg and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. Goldsmith has been at the helm since taking over from his father, Bram Goldsmith, in 1995.

“This place has been important to me and my family for 65 years,” Goldsmith said. “I want to continue to be involved with the clients, with the colleagues, with the communities that we support and be involved in the bigger stuff: the strategies, possible acquisitions.”

RBC bought City National in 2015 for $5 billion, allowing the Canadian company to diversify into U.S. private and commercial banking. As part of that deal, Goldsmith agreed to stay as chairman and CEO for three years.

Goldsmith said he began searching for the next CEO about 18 months ago, and Coffey was one of two shortlisted candidates. She will be taking over a bank with assets of $48.9 billion and $67.3 billion in client funds.

Bloomberg News