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Brokerage says it pays to invest in community

RBC Dain Rauscher's president says that's why the company supports the arts.

By HELEN HUNTLEY
Published March 5, 2005


The party at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts this week was more than just a way for RBC Dain Rauscher's clients to get a look at the Monet exhibit the company is co-sponsoring. It was also another statement that RBC Dain is happy to be in Florida and committed to supporting the arts.

"We think an investment in the community pays off in a better lifestyle for clients and more opportunities for the company," said Brian Peters, president and chief executive of the Minneapolis brokerage, who flew in for the event.

RBC Dain entered the Florida retail brokerage business and vastly expanded its municipal bond business in the state with the acquisition a year ago of William R. Hough & Co. in St. Petersburg. Hough was known as a patron of the arts, and RBC Dain has continued the tradition, supporting organizations such as American Stage and the Florida Orchestra.

Peters said the integration of the two companies went fairly smoothly because of their similar cultures. RBC Dain is spending about $3-million renovating or moving Hough's Florida offices, which, in addition to those in St. Petersburg, are in Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Naples. Once the space is ready, the company plans to add about 10 retail brokers to the two dozen it inherited from Hough.

Peters said the company, which is owned by Royal Bank of Canada, is developing a relationship with the bank's U.S. banking operation, RBC Centura. The bank and the brokerage have offices in the same building in Miami and may end up with a similar arrangement in Orlando. Elsewhere, RBC Dain brokers travel to meet clients in bank branches.

Bank referrals have brought the Florida brokers about $15-million to $20-million in client assets, and the brokers have sent the bankers about $4-million to $5-million in loans, said Evan Whittle, who heads the retail brokerage operation in St. Petersburg.

Peters said that's a sign of growing personal relationships between the brokers and the bankers.

"All of this business is personal," he said. "Centura is not forced to send us anything."

RBC Centura will be part of a group of banks that will offer RBC Dain clients the ability to hold up to $1-million in FDIC-insured funds in a single brokerage account. In addition, brokerage clients will have access to loans of $1-million and up through Royal Bank of Canada's global private banking service. Bank products also are being made available to the state and local governments that use RBC Dain's municipal bond underwriting services.

RBC Dain has about 1,800 brokers and 5,000 employees nationwide, including 126 in Florida.

Helen Huntley can be reached at huntley@sptimes.com or 727 893-8230.

[Last modified March 5, 2005, 00:41:15]


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