People Moves

RBC Hunts For New Permanent CFO After Firing Predecessor

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 11 April 2024

RBC Hunts For New Permanent CFO After Firing Predecessor

Announced late last week, RBC's firing of its chief financial officer comes as it starts to integrate the Canadian business arm of HSBC that it has acquired. With M&A going on in a number of banks, the CFO role is a key one. RBC also bought a UK wealth management firm two years ago.

Royal Bank of Canada, which has been building parts of its wealth operations across North America – as well as other regions – now has an interim chief financial officer, Katherine Gibson. She took up the role as the bank, listed in Toronto, announced her appointment on Friday, after it terminated the employment of Nadine Ahn.

The bank said it fired Ahn after it was “recently made aware of allegations involving Ms Ahn and immediately launched an internal review and engaged outside legal counsel to investigate.”

“The investigation found evidence that, in contravention of the RBC Code of Conduct, Ms Ahn was in an undisclosed close personal relationship with another employee which led to preferential treatment of the employee including promotion and compensation increases. As a result, the two individuals have had their employment terminated,” it said. RBC did not name the other person.

RBC said its investigation found no evidence of conduct by the former CFO or the other employee with respect to the bank's previously-issued financial statements, RBC's strategy or its financial or business performance.

Gibson is serving as interim CFO while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted. Working at RBC for 22 years, Gibson was most recently senior vice president, finance and controller.

This publication has contacted RBC for further comment, and may update this article in due course.

The bank’s move means that it is integrating HSBC’s Canadian business – a deal was wrapped up on 28 March – without a permanent CFO in place. The Wall Street Journal quoted an RBC spokesperson saying that the bank’s executive office learned of the alleged affair on 11 March. When the deal was first announced in November 2022, HSBC said it would transfer almost $100 billion in assets to RBC once the deal closed, including its Canadian retail, commercial and investment banking businesses. RBC had about $1.5 trillion in assets as of 31 January.

For years, RBC has enjoyed a reputation as a stable lender that has avoided scandals and major missteps that have caused problems for its rivals, such as Credit Suisse. It has a major wealth management business in the US, Canada, Asia and the UK. In September 2022 it completed its C$2.4 billion ($1.769 billion) purchase of UK wealth manager Brewin Dolphin, an example of consolidation in the UK wealth space.

As previously reported, last December, RBC Wealth Management appointed Rod Ireland as head of wealth management for Asia, adding to his existing job as head of APAC global markets.

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