In Canada, the bank's personal and commercial banking operations are branded as RBC Royal Bank in English and RBC Banque Royale in French and serves approximately ten million clients through its network of 1,209 branches. RBC Bank is the U.S. banking subsidiary which formerly operated 439 branches across six states in the Southeastern United States, but now only offers cross-border banking services to Canadian travellers and expats. RBC also has 127 branches across seventeen countries in the Caribbean, which serve more than 16 million clients.RBC Capital Markets is RBC's worldwide investment and corporate banking subsidiary, while the investment brokerage firm is known as RBC Dominion Securities. Investment banking services are also provided through RBC Bank and the focus is on middle market clients.
In 2011, RBC was the largest Canadian company by revenue and market capitalization. and was ranked at No. 50 in the 2013 Forbes Global 2000 listing, The company has operations in Canada, and 40 other countries and had US$673.2 billion of assets under management in 2014.
In 1864, the Merchants Bank of Halifax was founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as a commercial bank that financed the fishing and timber industries and the European and Caribbean import/export businesses. By 1869 the Merchants' Bank was officially incorporated and received its federal charter in the same year. During the 1870s and 1880s, the bank expanded into the other Maritime Provinces. When both the Newfoundland Commercial Bank and Union Bank of Newfoundland collapsed on 10 December 1894, the Merchants Bank expanded to Newfoundland on 31 January 1895.
As the bank grew, executives changed its name to reflect its growth and western expansion. In 1901, the Merchants Bank of Halifax changed its name to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The centre of the Canadian financial industry had moved from Halifax to Montreal, so the Merchants Bank relocated its head office there. In 1910, RBC merged with the Union Bank of Halifax. In the same year it built a bank branch in Winnipeg, Manitoba--designed by Carrère and Hastings, in beaux-arts classicism proclaiming the financial dominance of Winnipeg in the prairies. To improve its position in Ontario, RBC merged with Traders Bank of Canada in 1912 and in 1917 RBC merged with Quebec Bank, which was founded in 1818 and chartered in 1822 in Quebec City.
RBC's presence in Manitoba and Saskatchewan was strengthened through a 1918 merger with Northern Crown Bank, which was the result of the merger in 1908 between Northern Bank (established in 1905 in Winnipeg) and Crown Bank of Canada (1904), based in Ontario. RBC's presence in the Prairie Provinces grew again with the 1925 merger with the Union Bank of Canada, which had begun in Quebec City in 1865 as the Union Bank of Lower Canada, but changed its name in 1886. The Union Bank of Canada had moved its headquarters to Winnipeg in 1912, and had built a strong presence in the Prairies and opened the first bank in the Northwest Territories at Fort Smith in 1921.
Union Bank of Canada branch in Toronto, 1919. The bank was acquired by RBC in 1925.
In 1935, RBC merged with Crown Savings and Loan Co. merged with Industrial Mortgage & Trust Co.
RBC installed its first computer in 1961, the first in Canadian banking. In the 1960s, RBC Insurance was created. In 1968, it merged with Ontario Loan and Debenture Company (formerly Ontario Savings and Investment Society). RBC Insurance is the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organization, with services to over five million people. It provides life, health, travel, home and auto and reinsurance products as well as creditor and business insurance services. In 1993, RBC merged with Royal Trust.
In 2007, RBC was recognized as the Top Most 100 powerful brands in the world. Was recognized as the "most respected corporation" in Canada In October 2008, RBC was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, RBC was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper. According to a global Newsweek ranking, which measures how effectively companies manage environmental risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers, Royal Bank of Canada is the most environmentally friendly company in the world.
1920 - RBC opened a branch in Colombia and a branch in Castries, St Lucia.
1923 - RBC bought and consolidated the banking operations of Pedro Gomez Mena e Hijo in Cuba.
1925 - RBC opened a branch in Peru, and acquired the American-owned, and failed, Bank of Central and South America. The purchase of BCSA brought with it subsidiaries, and their branches, in Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Venezuela
1960 - Fidel Castro's regime acquired the RBC's operations in Cuba on 8 December. At the time of the forced sale, RBC had 24 branches in Cuba. From 1961 to 1965, RBC maintained a Special Representative in Havana to facilitate trade between Cuba and Canada. Actually, the Special Representative's primary function after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 was to act as a financial intermediary between the American and Cuban governments to manage the ransoming of the prisoners for food and agricultural machinery.
Additionally RBC incorporated its operations in Trinidad and Tobago locally, floating the shares, thereby divesting itself of ownership. The new bank took the name Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT).
2006 - RBC upgraded its representative office in Beijing, China, to a branch.
2006 - Created an institutional investment joint venture with Dexia. The 50/50 partnership operated under the name RBC Dexia Investor Services.
2008 - RBC established a representative office in Mumbai, India. RBC re-acquired 98.14% of the shares of Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. This brought RBC back to Trinidad and Tobago some 20 years after it had withdrawn and provided it with a presence in other islands served by RBTT.
2011 - RBC sold RBC Bank to PNC Financial Services for US$3.62 billion. PNC ATMs are now used by customers with RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A. providing Canadians with bank options when they are residing in the US.
2012 - RBC completed the acquisition of Dexia's 50-percent stake in RBC Dexia Investor Services Limited, making it the sole owner of the newly named [RBC Investor & Treasury Services]. RBC also opened a Branch in Wilemstad, Curaçao.
2015 - RBC agreed to sell its Swiss private bank Royal Bank of Canada (Suisse) SA to local rival SYZ Group. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Royal Bank of Canada (Suisse) manages Sfr. 10 billion (US$10.5 billion, C$13.4 billion) of assets for clients in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
2015 - RBC completed the acquisition of City National Bank (November)
2016 - On January 21, 2016, Aviva announced the acquisition of RBC General Insurance Company, for CAD$582 million.
2019 - RBC agreed to sell its Eastern Caribbean banking operations, in places such as Antigua, Dominica, & Saint Lucia, to a consortium of banks in the region.
Logo used by RBC from 1974 to 2001
The bank's symbol is a golden lion clutching a globe, on a blue background. An older version depicted a crown above the globe and the lion faced to the left. The change coincided with an expansion in United States markets. Over the years, the lion's mane has also become less detailed and more stylized, and the tongue was shortened.
Like many of its competitors, RBC is a key sponsor of many events, community programs, and charities. One percent of RBC's average annual net income before taxes is set aside for charitable partnerships via the arms-length RBC Foundation.
RBC is one of Canada's largest sponsors of amateur sports and is the longest-running Canadian sponsor of the Olympic Games. It employs dozens of top-tier amateur athletes as part-time spokespeople through the RBC Olympians program. RBC is a former premier sponsor of Hockey Canada and previously owned the naming rights to the National Junior A Championship, then called the Royal Bank Cup (later the RBC Cup). In addition, it supports Canadian hockey at the grassroots level through the RBC Play Hockey program.
The title of Royal Bank's top executive has changed several times. Initially it was styled as President. Later, it became chief executive officer and one often carried additional responsibilities as chairman of the board, while the second-in-command was the President. Allan R. Taylor was chairman and CEO from 1986 to 1994, and he was succeeded by John Cleghorn in that capacity from 1994 to 2001. Dave McKay is currently the President and chief executive officer.
David P. O'Brien has served as the institution's chairman (non-executive) since 2004. The position was formerly held by Guy Saint-Pierre, who held the position from 2001 to 2004.
Place Ville Marie serves as the official head office for RBC, whereas Royal Bank Plaza serves as the bank's corporate headquarters.
The head office for the institution was initially located at the Merchants' Bank of Halifax Building, on Bedford Row, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia. The building served as the head office for the bank from 1864 to 1907. In 1907, the RBC relocated its head office to the Four Pillars Building, at 147 Saint Jacques Street (renumbered 221 in 1928), Montreal. The building was used as RBC's head office until 1928. The Four Pillars Building was later demolished, with only its facade remaining. In 1928, RBC moved its head office to the Old Royal Bank Building, at 360 Saint Jacques Street, Montreal.
In 1962, RBC moved its head office to Place Ville-Marie, at University Street and René-Lévesque Blvd in Montreal. In 1976, RBC completed Royal Bank Plaza, at 200 Bay Street, Toronto. RBC's official head office still remains at Place Ville-Marie; although Royal Bank Plaza is listed by RBC as its corporate headquarters, with most of its management operations based there.
On January 15, 2007, CBC Radio reported RBC is "refusing" people of certain nationalities to open U.S. dollar accounts with the bank. Canadian citizens with dual citizenship in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea or Sudan (mostly countries with U.S. sanctions) are affected. The U.S. Treasury Department restricts certain foreign nationals from using the U.S. dollar payment system to limit terrorism and money laundering after the September 11, 2001, attacks. RBC replied that compliance with such laws does not represent an endorsement by the bank and on January 17, clarified its position on the application of the U.S. laws, specifying that "with some exceptions" it does open accounts for dual citizens of the sanctioned countries. There have also been reports that the bank has closed the accounts of some Iranian-Canadian citizens.
The CBC reported on May 7, 2013, that during Question Period in Parliament the NDP leveled accusations against the government and then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to which he responded that the government has been working on problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for more than a year.