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Friday, June 13, 2014

RBC's Parent Sows Seeds for Big Harvest

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

With all the resources the Royal Bank of Canada is lavishing on the American market, someone is going to need a tractor.

The parent of RBC Asset Management has committed to heavy investment in the U.S. to grow its retail mutual fund business, according to president and chief investment officer Mike Lee and head of distribution Matt Appelstein.

"The bank has been very supportive of the U.S. business. It is committing seed capital, acquisition capital and resources to build up the retail business," Appelstein recently told MFWire.

Appelstein says that nine funds have been seeded in the past two years. The parent has just approved the seeding of five more funds.

"We've really been very much focused on seeding lots of capabilities," he said. "All of these capabilities were driven in a big part by client demand."

Some of the product areas where RBC is looking to grow include global equity and credit, emerging markets and alternatives.

Many of the alternative creations come from the PM minds at BlueBay Asset Management, which RBC bought in 2010.

Appelstein said that RBC is open to more equity team lift-outs, like that of the ten global equity experts from First State.

Later in the year, RBC plans to commit more resources to bolstering its intermediary operations. Applestein declined to give details but said that "we are very much focused on growing this business."

"We are doing a pretty comprehensive analysis of the intermediary marketplace, with the product set that we have, and figuring out how to grow. We see the intermediary business as an opportunity for us," he said.

RBC has already invested a lot to bolstering its distribution team, as well as devoted a number of resources to promoting BlueBay products. The firm is also marshaling forces behind its socially responsible offering.

Lee, president and CIO of RBC's asset management arm, says that although the bank has been opening its coffers for his business, it has also been careful to let the asset managers do their thing.

"RBC is a unique parent company. They allow the asset management business to really run as an independent global asset management business. Our management team is entirely filled with people from the investment management space. We are allowed to function fairly independently," he said. 

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