Volume 93, Issue 56

Wednesday, January 26, 2000


Twelve hopefuls run for USC office

CFS urges students to return scholarships

Biz school ranking is top notch

Access 2000 campaign poised to take off

More Toms, Dicks and Harrys needed as nurses

Royal bank CEO hints at change


Bass Ackwards

Caught on Campus

Royal bank CEO hints at change

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

The future of Canada's banking industry is in for some big changes if John Cleghorn, chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Bank of Canada, has anything to do with it.

As part of The Office for Partnerships for Advanced Skills Visionary Seminars, a union of Ontario universities and Canadian companies such as the Royal Bank, Cleghorn spoke to a capacity crowd at Wilfrid Laurier University about the future of Canada's banking industry. His address was broadcast live to 17 universities across the nation, including Western.

Cleghorn said a fundamental change in the retail financial service industry would be a continuation of the online business trend which would see the downscaling of banks as bricks and mortar institutions. Everyday transactions, ranging from the payment of bills to buying and selling stock, would undergo a complete electronic transformation.

He explained the Royal Bank was prepared for the change by expanding its ownership to include one of Canada's leading internet service providers, America Online Canada, last summer. "This is a cross-border joint venture because it also gives us marketing access to AOL's Canadian and U.S. customers," he said.

Gord MacKenzie, regional vice-president for the Royal Bank, said the move towards online services was high on the company's list of priorities this year. "We've got a very aggressive target this year. We're looking at hooking up 1.5 million customers," he said.

Cleghorn also discussed the role of universities in accommodating changes to the perception of Canadian businesses. "Universities will play a major role in providing the fundamental research. Our [partners] will help us identify and define the breakthrough ideas and we will provide the financial knowledge and access to capital," Cleghorn added.

He explained the Canadian business landscape would have to grow to reflect a global scope of business. "We can't expect Canadian customers to deal with us just because we're Canadian," he said.

"I think a broad-based liberal arts grounding is important and a good start. You have to have pretty good communication skills and like working with other people."

Bob Rosehart, president of Laurier, said he was pleased Cleghorn referred to a liberal arts education as an essential component to the future workforce's educational make up. He added skills in areas including communication, problem solving and interpersonal relations were all integral to a liberal arts education. "I think it's a good message for the students to hear."

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