In this feature - part of the International Investment Special Report on The Bahamas 2021 - Grégory Métrailler, pictured below left, Investment Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities Global Limited and Lainey Broderick, pictured below right, Assistant Manager, RBC Dominion Securities Global Limited, discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the company, The Bahamas and the financial sector worldwide.
Section 1: Impact of Covid-19 on the financial sector
How did Covid-19 impact the financial sector?
Sometimes external disruption is needed to force a change in habits and in that sense not only the financial sector, but all industries in the Bahamas have made a big step forward."
The unpredicted and rapid spreading of the virus around the Caribbean resulted in sudden lockdown protocols, leaving financial institutions with little time to deal with the necessary logistics to have their workers fully operational from home. At the same time, financial markets were extremely volatile and as a consequence, financial services had even more pressure to execute on this transition in order to maintain their high standards of service.
However, after the initial shock, financial markets stabilized and the home office setup appeared to be quite efficient and productive for the fiscal
sector. As the world slowly moves towards a "new normal", many financial operations will most likely downsize their office spaces to improve their cost efficiency and allow more flexibility with work from home days for their employees.
What about the financial sector in the Bahamas?
The financial sector overall has been consolidating for a while now and the Bahamas has also been part of that trend. Some major players have exited the jurisdiction or downsized their operation but most of these decisions were strategic and not related to Covid-19.
One of the major impacts the pandemic had on the sector locally was the acceleration of the digitalization for documentation and payments. Sometimes external disruption is needed to force a change in habits and in that sense not only the financial sector, but all industries in the Bahamas have made a big step forward.
For RBC, we are proud to say that the bank has been able to implement the necessary measures to continue to serve its clients with the highest service level required. RBC has even further grown its local footprint during the last year with our colleagues from Private Banking opening a new office at the Albany Financial Center.
In the course of a pandemic, this is definitely a major achievement.
How did Covid-19 impact RBC Dominion Securities specifically?
In this period of crisis, the benefits of working with a global firm with RBC's assets (being among the world's best capitalized banks) showed their
strength. Locally, when the Covid-19 pandemic triggered lockdown, our team was able to transition fully to work from home within a matter of days.
Globally, by the end of March 2020, RBC Wealth Management moved nearly 10,000 employees to work from home while processing over 15 million transactions totaling over $46 billion, which represents over triple the normal volume.
On the investment management front, our Investment Advisors and Portfolio Managers were working tirelessly to help clients navigate these challenging times.
At RBC Wealth Management we are now broadcasting multiple times the usual quantity of high quality investment content and thought leadership - articles, blogs, conference calls and more, designed to inform the decisions of our Advisors and their clients. Our advice during the pandemic is to remain disciplined in the execution of the investment plan you have formulated with your Investment Advisor.
Execute today but look to tomorrow.
Section 2: Building client trust in times of change
You spoke about servicing clients, how do you build client trust during times of change?
During a time when it is difficult to imagine circumstances that would drive more uncertainty in our lives, here at RBC Dominion Securities we are striving to provide our clients with a source of stability and reliability.
As a result of strong support from our parent company, along with astute and decisive leadership from our local management team, we were proud to be able to reassure our clients and their professional advisers that our offices have been and will remain fully operational, to provide our clients with the first class service that they are accustomed to, regardless of our physical location from one day to the next.
Nobody likes uncertainty, hence the importance of being proactive. When the pandemic hit, clients and communities were already experiencing hesitations regarding their personal situations. Some were worried about their savings; some about their investments; others about their businesses and most importantly their family safety.
It is important to us for our clients to feel supported in the Wealth Management arena so as they can concentrate on solving other matters. In our industry, professionals can disappear during difficult times and it is specifically in these periods when clients require our full attention. With a pre-emptive approach, we aim to solve problems before they become overwhelming and also create new openings.
Building trust is a long process and situations like we experienced over the last year are unique opportunities that contribute to forging strong relationships with our clients.
What else did RBC Dominion Securities do build client and community relationships during this time?
In each of our Caribbean branches we have been doing what we can to engage with and support the local communities. With our clients kind collaboration we have been delighted to be able to donate through our contribution matching campaign over US$38,000 to the Cayman Food Bank, the Red Cross Society in Barbados and Hands for Hunger in the Bahamas.
Looking forward - how does RBC see the return to "normal"?
As the world turns its attention to reopening, we are developing plans to gradually return employees to RBC premises. We are taking a measured approach to ensure we proceed at the right pace, with enterprise standards that keep the health and safety of employees, clients and service providers our top priority.
During the transition from work from home to partial occupancy of our offices, our clients can expect to continue to receive uninterrupted world-class wealth management services.
While it may be a while before this can be done fully in literal terms; our door is always open.
This feature is part of the International Investment Special Report on The Bahamas 2021 in conjuction with The Bahamas Financial Services Board. Click here to view
About the Authors
Grégory joined RBC Dominion Securities Global Limited as Investment Advisor in 2020. He started his career in 2012 with a graduate program in his native Switzerland where he worked in various wealth management teams (including High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth). In May 2014, he moved to Zurich and joined a Swiss private banking corporation as a relationship Manager/Investment Advisor, servicing clients domiciled in Latin America, Europe and Switzerland.
After 5 years in Zürich, the opportunity to relocate in his role to Nassau arose and he moved to the Bahamas in January 2019. There, he worked as Investment Advisor/Portfolio Manager and also served as investments' competence center for the booking center Bahamas.
As a trusted advisor, Grégory uses a holistic approach to understand and define clients' needs. He leverages his expertise and the Bank's value chain to help them achieve their wealth management objectives. His main focus is to provide clients with comprehensive investment advice and build a suitable investment strategy according to the client's risk and return expectations.
Grégory holds a degree in Banking and Finance from the Swiss Finance Institute and is a certified wealth management advisor (CWMA). In addition, Grégory speaks fluently five languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese). In his spare time Grégory enjoys the outdoors with a passion for skiing, being from the Swiss Alps.
He previously competed as a semi-professional skier but has now swapped the snowy mountains for sandy beaches and relishes in spearfishing, snorkeling, climbing and triathlons.
Lainey Broderick, LL.B, LL.M
Lainey brings a variety of skills and investment experience to her role as Assistant Manager, having worked for the previous decade in Grand Cayman, in both a local fund directorship company and a global investment banking and management firm. Lainey holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and KU Leuven, Belgium and a Master of Laws from NUI Galway, Ireland. She is currently an MBA Candidate with Imperial College Business School, London, England.
Beginning her banking career in 2006 with the largest financial services group in Ireland, Lainey graduated from their prestigious management training programme in 2009. Her previous roles have included investor relations, global markets, corporate architecture, multinational marketing and fund administration and directorships. Lainey has excellent proficiency in offshore funds, financial services and business management.
In her spare time, Lainey enjoys contributing to the local community and is a Director of the Green Tie Charitable Association; an Officer of the Cayman Islands Kids Gaelic Football Club; prior Chairwoman of the Cayman Islands Ladies Gaelic Football Club; and a regular volunteer for the Cayman Islands charities of the Pink Ladies, Jasmine Hospice and 100 Women in Finance.