November 1, 2010

RBC Wealth Names Catie Tobin to Run BD Clearing, RIA Custody Operation

Current chief Mike Kavanagh to retire at end of 2010

Mike Kavanagh, chief administrative officer and head of RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services. Mike Kavanagh, chief administrative officer and head of RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services.

RBC Wealth Management, which earlier this year entered the RIA custody business in a big way, announced the retirement by year-end of Mike Kavanagh (left), who has headed that initiative as chief administrative officer and head of RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services.

Replacing Kavanagh, 52, is Catie Tobin, who has spent “18-and-a-half years” at RBC, Tobin said in an interview on Monday evening. Currently head of business development for RBC Wealth Management, in her new position she will report directly to John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth.

(RBC Wealth’s foray into the RIA custody business, highlighted by the acquisition of the custody business of the former Bear Stearns, was the subject of a cover story in the July 2010 issue of Investment Advisor.)

In a statement, RBC Wealth said Kavanagh will work with Tobin during a transition period through the end of 2010. In that same statement, Tobin said “RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services…clearly represents two of our most promising expansion opportunities.”

In the interview, Tobin (left) said that she and Kavanagh were already “working closely on the transition,” building on a relationship strengthened by working together on the acquisition of the former Bear Stearns custody unit from JPMorgan that closed earlier this year.

Based in Minneapolis, Tobin also dispelled any conjecture that Kavanagh’s retirement was anything more than a retirement. “He’s been planning this for some time,” she said.

Asked what talents she brings to her new position, Tobin pointed out that “I’ve spent time in both the home office and was in the field for seven years,” including a stint as a branch director, which gave her “a solid understanding of our resources,” which woud benefit both the correspondent broker-dealers and RIAs through operational enhancements, research, and other products and services. “Size is an advantage for us,” she argued, but also touted RBC Wealth’s service culture as a competitive advantage.

Moreover, with Taft serving as the incoming chairman of SIFMA, Tobin also feels “we have a front-row seat in the regulatory reform debate…we’re pretty fortunate on getting up-to-date information, and even being a step ahead” on that debate. As for imposition of a fiduciary standard for all advice-givers, she believes that “We’re in the best position of probably anyone. We welcome the change. We have a stewardship culture at RBC since we’ve been doing business—it’s very consistent: Keep our clients’ interests first.”

As for her goals, Tobin said it was too early to share specific targets for the clearing and custody business, but said, “We do have specific goals: we want to grow advisors and AUM, but also deepen our relationship with existing clients—flawless execution of our strategy is critical.”

(Another RBC Wealth executive, Craig Gordon, spoke to AdvisorOne Editor Jamie Green in October about the firm’s strategy and the growing acceptance of independence among wirehouse brokers.)

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