Development of products and services
RBC follows a defined, rigorous process before launching any new product or significantly changing an existing one. We evaluate products for a range of risks and ensure they align with client needs, our Code of Conduct, laws and regulations, and voluntary consumer protection codes that we have signed. Approval levels within RBC correspond to the level of risk identified for a particular product or service.
Low-carbon banking for consumers
One of our priorities is to provide products and services that help our clients mitigate their environmental impact. This includes online banking, and electronic statements and bill payment. In 2008, we continued to offer options for our environmentally conscious clients including incentives to switch off paper statements, have a home energy audit, buy a lower-emission car, and switch to green power.
Socially responsible investing (SRI)
As investors continue to express an interest in SRI, RBC has reinforced its commitment to offering products that incorporate environmental, social and governance criteria in the investment process. In 2008, we expanded our SRI options through the acquisition of PH&N, which manages the PH&N Community Values Funds. Through Voyageur Asset Management Inc., we also acquired certain assets of Boston-based Access Capital Strategies, LLC (Access Capital). Access Capital invests in debt securities that support community development serving low- and moderate-income individuals and communities across the U.S.
RBC provides credit and banking services to companies in many industries. Our policies cover environmental implications and other areas of concern. For instance, our Credit Risk Management Framework, released in October 2008, states certain types of clients and transactions must in all cases be avoided, including the direct financing of companies manufacturing equipment or materiel for nuclear, chemical or biological warfare landmines and cluster bombs. RBC is a signatory to the Equator Principles, a set of voluntary guidelines addressing environmental and social risks associated with project finance.
RBC has a number of anti-corruption controls which require us to apply appropriate scrutiny and monitoring measures to high-risk clients whose business activities are known to be susceptible to criminal activity or have been designated as high risk for money laundering or financing terrorism.
Privacy and information security
RBC is dedicated to safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of personal, business, financial and other information. In fact, it is one of our highest priorities and remains a cornerstone of our commitment to our clients, employees and other stakeholders. We have had a formal Privacy Code since 1991, overseen by our Chief Privacy Officer, and we use rigorous security safeguards and internal controls to ensure the privacy and security of information entrusted to us. In 2008, we continued to build upon our robust framework for managing privacy, information security, and records and content management by focusing on important areas such as client and employee awareness. This includes the development of a Phishing Resource Centre to help educate our clients on how to recognize fake websites and e-mail scams, as well as an internal focus on employee education and development. We also revised our public website to make it easier for consumers to obtain important information about privacy, information security, and fraud prevention.
RBC has stringent security policies and practices, supported by around-the-clock resources to prevent, detect and investigate potential fraud. Our guarantees for online banking and self-directed brokerage clients offer 100% reimbursement for funds lost through unauthorized transactions in their accounts. We continue to focus on operations by introducing simpler processes, with positive results as evident in the significant decrease in the turnaround time for fraud claims, resulting in quicker reimbursement to our clients. We continue to develop fraud-education initiatives including up-to-date tips and alerts, brochures and client presentations.
Treating customers fairly
At RBC, we put our clients first, and that means it is of central importance to us that we treat our clients fairly. We abide by a number of market conduct rules and regulations designed to protect financial services clients, such as the Canadian cost of borrowing and other disclosure requirements, U.S. fair lending requirements and U.K. Treating Customers Fairly regime. In addition, the Canadian banking industry has developed a number of voluntary codes to protect consumers, to which our Canadian businesses have committed. These are listed at rbc.com/voluntary-codes-public-commitments.
Know Your Client rules
Know Your Client rules are key to the protection of all our clients. Our employees are required to make all necessary efforts to understand a client’s profile, and financial and personal objectives before making recommendations relevant to the client’s needs. Our due diligence also covers compliance with applicable securities, consumer protection, anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism and economic sanctions legislation.
Client complaint process
Our formal process for handling client concerns is outlined on our website and in our Straight Talk brochures. If clients believe an issue is unresolved following receipt of a response from the RBC representative dealing with their concern, they may appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman, which examines decisions made by RBC companies and reviews their compliance with proper business procedures. The office ensures customers get a fair and impartial hearing and are treated with consideration and respect. We also respect the dignity and privacy of all parties involved in the proceedings. Certain disputes that remain unresolved after being reviewed by the Ombudsman may be directed to a number of agencies and regulators listed on our website and in our Straight Talk brochures.
Responding to feedback
Every year, RBC businesses track client satisfaction through a range of feedback mechanisms such as telephone, paper and online surveys in order to improve our products and services. For instance, in 2008, we asked 492,000 clients within our Canadian retail banking operation for their feedback, which helped provide direction for the following initiatives: