Global Private Banking
In 2005, we expanded in the Americas by opening representative offices in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and San Francisco, and by establishing an International Client Group consisting of 25 international private banking and investment specialists in Vancouver. This group provides a range of wealth management and banking solutions to non-resident clients active in Asia Pacific markets, as well as Canadian citizens living and working abroad.
We also introduced an integrated wealth management model, including the designation of a primary relationship manager for each of our high net worth clients. This relationship model provides clients with a single point of contact for dealing with us, allowing us to develop a deeper understanding of our clients’ needs over time.
Our high net worth clients have the full benefit of our broad organizational strengths. For example, the structured product capability of RBC Capital Markets has given our clients access to innovative, customer-designed solutions. In addition to structured notes, GPB clients have access to commodities hedging, alternative assets and equities products through our New York and London desks. In 2005, sales of these products generated US$700 million in new assets.
Personal and business banking is comprised of RBC Centura, with 273 branches in the Southeast U.S., and our network of 42 branches in eight Caribbean countries. RBC Centura continues to serve its personal clients, with a special focus on meeting the needs of businesses, business owners and professionals. Caribbean banking is building upon its 100-year history by focusing on deepening its client relationships.
RBC Centura significantly improved business performance in 2005 by focusing on growing loans and deposits, which increased by 16 per cent and 9 per cent, in U.S. dollars, respectively, over 2004. At the same time, we reduced costs by streamlining our support functions. In 2005, we selectively opened eight branches in high-growth markets and closed several less-profitable branches.
Our commercial banking business grew deposits by 28 per cent and increased loans by 18 per cent, in U.S. dollars, by addressing local client demand and making several enhancements to our suite of commercial and small business products and services. For example, we now offer longer-term mortgages on owner-occupied real estate at fixed rates to small business owners.
In 2005, we refinanced one of the largest real estate transactions in Raleigh, NC, with US$105 million refinanced. In addition, our commercial markets teams in Atlanta and Toronto partnered to close an important credit facility for a major commercial client, who plans to expand into Canada in the next 12 months.
In taking a focused approach to our core U.S. business of banking and wealth management, we announced and completed the sale of certain assets of RBC Mortgage Company to Home123 Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of New Century Mortgage Corporation. We continue to provide mortgage services in the Southeast U.S. to our clients through RBC Centura. We expanded our in-branch mortgage business at RBC Centura, nearly doubling origination volume to US$982 million.
In the Caribbean we operate under the brand name RBC Royal Bank of Canada, where our strategy is to grow organically by building on our strong presence in the region and by offering a superior full-service banking experience. In 2005, improved sales management processes contributed to strong revenue growth.