Strategy

New Wealth Head Marks "New Chapter", Says RBS's Hartzer

Harriet Davies 12 August 2010

New Wealth Head Marks

Rory Tapner’s appointment as chief executive of wealth at Royal Bank of Scotland – a role which includes the oversight of Coutts and Adam & Co – shows the world  “just how serious RBS is about the wealth sector”, Brian Hartzer, the chief executive of UK retail, wealth and Ulster Bank within the RBS Group, told WealthBriefing.

Tapner’s appointment represents “a new chapter”, he said, putting an end to rumours the bank might sell its wealth operation, and reassuring staff and clients of its commitment and momentum in this business, said Hartzer.

Tapner comes to the bank from wealth management giant UBS, where he was latterly chairman and chief executive of its Asia Pacific operations, overseeing investment banking, wealth management and asset management.

“Rory’s experience in Asia was certainly one of the things that made him attractive to us. However, his experience as a business strategist and people leader was what I was after more than anything,” said Hartzer.

“Motivating staff and creating the right working atmosphere for client-facing staff is essential as this transfers into the service clients receive.”

“It’s important that we create a very strong culture,” he added.

Since the announcement of Tapner’s hire earlier this week, media reports have claimed that among his first priorities will be recruiting other top bankers.

“We hired Rory, not necessarily for his contact list – but to an extent having a respected leader join us has the effect of attracting other highly capable people,” said Hartzer.

Markets the bank will focus on specifically include the UK, which it views as highly significant, and where it has strong investment management and banking capabilities which it intends to grow further.

“We need to let people know about this,” said Hartzer.

Like other firms, RBS also views Asia Pacific as a big growth market and plans to hire more private bankers in the region. 

RBS Coutts, especially, has been busy hiring in Asia, as the private bank rebuilds its business following a number of staff defections. And Hartzer believes certain trends in Asia will play into the bank’s hands, such as the more holistic approach to wealth management that is developing there and the movement away from a trading approach to wealth, to one of long-term planning.

In Europe, as well as Switzerland, where it has a significant presence, RBS is targeting growth in Eastern Europe and the Middle East – where the bank is also planning to hire more bankers.

“We are investing heavily to go after certain opportunities,” said Hartzer.

As well as hiring staff, the bank is upgrading its technology, and is currently in the process of rolling out its offshore wealth management system in the UK, which will provide a significant upgrade in functionality, said Hartzer, adding that these are all significant investments which have been approved by the RBS board and management.

“It’s not going to be an overnight story, but the hiring of Rory is an excellent milestone. There are a lot of long-term opportunities [in wealth management] and it is an attractive business, and we will go for the ones where we can be competitive and deliver a service which is a cut above the rest,” he said.

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