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RBC wins $688M team as it pursues recruiting in time of coronavirus

Small signage is displayed outside of a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch during the company's annual general meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, April 6, 2017
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RBC hired a big wirehouse team this week — marking an almost normal occurrence in an abnormal time.

The five advisors managed $688 million at Wells Fargo, their prior employer. But that the group made the move at all during a taxing and constricting public health crisis is a sign of how RBC is furthering growth strategies amid the upheaval wrought by the coronavirus, the firm says.

Recruiting has slowed down across the industry, according to headhunters and executives, as firms are grappling with the health risks posed by the coronavirus and the physical logistics of conducting business with the overwhelming majority of employees working remotely and advisors swamped with client calls.

RBC, however, says this most recent team win is evidence of reasserting its recruiting prowess in a severely disrupted marketplace.

“We’ve been able to leverage technology and we’ve put things in place that have allowed us to continue our momentum,” says Kristen Kimmell, head of advisor recruiting and field marketing at the company.

RBC is upping the types and amounts of information it shares via digital means with potential hires. It’s also offering digital home office visits in lieu of in-person ones, Kimmell says. The firm has completed three such virtual visits and has four more scheduled, enabling advisors to meet all the leaders and experts that they would normally see during a trip to RBC’s Minneapolis office, she says.

“It doesn’t completely replace the in-person visit, but it does still help give them a sense of the culture,” Kimmell says.

More often than not, wirehouses were on the losing side of these moves.
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The firm is also finding workarounds to the constraints imposed by shelter-in-place orders and travel bans. For example, complex directors and branch managers are having virtual coffee meetings with prospective recruits in lieu of face-to-face encounters, she says.

The company’s latest hires reflect its recent hiring trends; the group is comprised of several wirehouse veterans. Barbara Frenz is the team’s most experienced advisor with 39 years in the business. Gregory Fuerst and John Welsch each have 30 years of industry experience, while Carl Helleberg has logged 31 years. Their colleague Michael Korb has been in wealth management for 25 years.

Fuerst said in a statement that the team was drawn to the firm for its “first-class” leadership, culture and platform.

Also moving to RBC from Wells Fargo are Kristan Janssen, branch service manager and Beverly Hebenstreich, client associate.

The group is staffing a new RBC branch office in Fond du Lac, a city of about 43,000 in southeastern Wisconsin. Last year, the firm picked up one of its biggest hires ever in nearby Green Bay. The new branch is now one of nine RBC Wealth Management locations in its Milwaukee complex.

“We knew a new branch in Fond du Lac would help us better serve our clients and round out our delivery in the region,” Doug Artus, director of the firm’s Milwaukee complex, said in a statement.

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