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RBC expands virtual onboarding; recruits $900M advisors

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As if talking clients through the reeling pandemic economy wasn’t hard enough, some financial advisors are cueing up even more potentially difficult conversations as they switch firms in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

“It's a lot to take on,” says recruiter Ryan Shanks, who notes that advisors who make a move now will have to hold such discussions virtually.

“And they know, by the way,” Shanks adds, “You’re going to have to repaper accounts.”

But some wealth management firms aren’t letting the pandemic slow down their recruiting efforts. RBC is a case in point. As cities started to shut down — and now with some slowly reopening — the Canadian bank is adding more advisors to its ranks and is building out its virtual onboarding, according to the company.

In the last two weeks, the firm has hired six advisors managing a total of $889 million in client assets, according to the firm. A Wells Fargo team that focuses on fixed income joined RBC May 4. The two advisors manage $417 million in client assets and are joining the regional broker-dealer in Austin, Texas, according to RBC. Steven Franco and David Storer had been at Wells for over a decade, with stints at firms including Raymond James prior, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

At the end of April, four advisors managing $472 million in client assets joined RBC, according to the firm. Frank Taylor and his sons William and Eric Taylor are joining their new employer in Chester, New Jersey from Merrill Lynch, along with advisor Frank Malcolm Minor III, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Jeremy Sutton, a rep overseeing $100 million in client assets at Wells Fargo, joined RBC in Chicago that same month.

These advisors follow other teams that have joined the firm since the coronavirus began to take hold in the U.S. In recent months the firm has onboarded two Merrill advisors managing $241 million in client assets as well as an advisor managing $350 million from Wells Fargo.

Time to evaluate
Most of RBC’s FAs are currently working from home, according to RBC spokeswoman Hannah Pederson. To buttress its virtual onboarding process, the firm has created online resources and guides for remote advisors and support staff to open accounts digitally. It has also started shipping resources to advisors at home and has reduced some of the manual and paper processes.

“Many elements will remain in place when advisors eventually return to the office,” RBC spokeswoman Hannah Pederson says.

In April, RBC CEO Dave McKay told employees no one would be laid off for the remainder of the year — a commitment several other firms ranging from Morgan Stanley to the RIA Creative Planning have also made to advisors.

Shanks notes that it’s a good time to start conversations with potential recruits. Not only do people have more flexibility when it comes to interviewing but “people are spending a ton of time online. They're evaluating opportunities,” he says.

A representative for Merrill Lynch did not respond to a request for comment. A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to comment.

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