RBC Wealth Management has launched a trust office in Singapore to give choice to existing clients and attract new ones. It is also about to announce more senior hires in emerging markets.

The wealth division of the Royal Bank of Canada received approval in July for RBC Trust Company Singapore to offer trust, estate planning and fiduciary services. It is headed by managing director Hilary May.

RBC describes itself as one of the largest providers of trust services globally, with 600 staff serving 5,000 clients in 10 jurisdictions, including Hong Kong and now Singapore.

May says her main focus will be on finding new clients. She is targeting “Asian-connected clients seeking the relationship and benefits associated with the appointment of a local trustee as well as international clients including those with connections to Latin America”.

Barend Janssens, who joined RBC Wealth Management as head of emerging markets based in Singapore, notes that the firm’s existing trust business is 99% focused on private wealth.

“The Singapore business is the last piece of the puzzle added in terms of the trust mapping we already have,” he states, suggesting RBC trust operates differently from many bank-owned trust companies.

“A trust is usually seen as a good way to get an investment portfolio, but when a client does business with RBC Trust they have no obligation to involve RBC as an investment manager,” he says.

Janssens has been tasked with directing RBC Wealth Management’s expansion in emerging markets, namely Asia, Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea).

RBC has over $55 billion in assets under administration among clients in emerging markets, more than 10% of its C$525 billion in AUA globally.

In Asia RBC is present in Hong Kong and Singapore and has representative offices in Beijing and Brunei. In the Middle East its rep office is in Dubai, and it has a presence in four locations across Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

Last September the firm announced an organisational change to accelerate growth of its international business, with a focus on emerging markets. A month later it confirmed the acquisition of Fortis Wealth Management Hong Kong.

It has prioritised broadening its emerging markets business to emerging markets clients as well as to increase business from developed markets to emerging markets clients.

RBC decided senior management was needed on the ground in Asia, so it appointed Andrew Turczyniak as head of wealth management for Asia. He used to run the firm’s capital markets business in Hong Kong and as such provides a link with corporate and investment banking in the region.

“We want to make certain we approach clients on a wider service basis, not only as a private bank,” says Janssens. “We feel it is key to be able to offer capital markets services from your own resources as it creates competitive advantage.”

He says the Latin American business is more about aligning it with RBC’s bank operations. “A lot of Latin American clients appreciate having both a brokerage relationship focused on North America and a more specific bank relationship focused on a European model.”

From Singapore, Janssens is looking to grow RBC Wealth Management’s client-facing teams in Asia, Latin America and Emea.

Just last week the firm announced it had appointed Samir Dewan as COO and head of business development for emerging markets. Based in Singapore, he reports to Ingrid Versnel, global head of operations and technology, and Janssens.

It also announced that Amit Parmanand has been appointed manager of strategic initiatives for emerging markets. Also based in Singapore, he reports to Dewan.

Both hires came from ABN Amro, a bank that Janssens spent over 20 years with, the last five as CEO of Asia private banking.

Janssens confirms he has worked with both Dewan and Parmanand before, and adds that further senior hires are on the horizon to cover Asia, Latin America and Emea on both the business development and portfolio management sides in the next six to 12 months.

RBC Wealth Management has about 400 people on the ground in emerging markets, of which 235 are in Asia comprising 65 client-facing bankers and brokers. This number includes 17 investment advisers and over 30 staff from its acquisition of Fortis Wealth Management Hong Kong.

Janssens adds that RBC is interested in additional acquisitions on the asset management side, following its $1.5 billion acquisition of BlueBay Asset Management in the UK last year.