Now that RBC Investments Inc. has almost completed its rollout of 3,300 Thomson workstations and a new client-centric wealth management system, the hard part begins: training an estimated 3,500 investment advisory staff.

But Ray Dela Paz, manager of technology training at RBC in Toronto, is

confident despite the steep learning curve, the program will be embraced by the RBC Financial Group’s wealth management arm.

“”Some advisors may resist the change at first as they’re used to the existing system,”” he says. “”But they also understand that first and foremost, this is a tool that will differentiate them from others on the street.””

The tool Dela Paz is alluding to is ClientLink, a platform from Toronto-based x.eye Inc. ClientLink generates proposals, monitors investment history and performance and automatically creates model portfolios. RBC licensed four modules of x.eye’s CWM — relationship, portfolio, eStatements, and modelling.

Together, these modules provide a desktop capability to manage large account in an increasingly demanding financial market, Dela Paz says.

Bill Reid is vice-president and investment advisor at a Mississauga, Ont.-based RBC branch that’s piloting the platform. Reid says ClientLink will put RBC’s competitors at a disadvantage.

“”About two years ago, I was asked for input on what I wanted from new technology insofar as my job was concerned and I gave them a wish list,”” Reid says. “”From what I’ve seen, ClientLink will do almost everything I need it to do . . . this is going to put us light-years ahead of the competition.””

But Reid concedes the scope and depth of ClientLink is such that it will take a significant amount of time to digest all the aspects the technology offers.

“”I’ve already done the online training, the one-to-one training, and I’m halfway through the group training sessions right now and there’s moments when my brain has felt like mush,”” he says.

“”I’m totally excited about what (ClientLink) can do, but we (investment staff) will have to spend a fair amount of time learning it all.””

In a nutshell, Reid says, ClientLink is a high-end investment management portfolio with a functionality that traditionally would only be available to clients with huge accounts.

“”Our competitors will be forced to follow suit,”” he predicts. “”I’m fairly literate from a technology standpoint, but this is so big, it will take time. It’s not something you can sit down for half an hour in front of and then say, ‘OK, I got it,’ and walk away.””

In addition to providing one-on-one training with its staff at each targeted branch, Dela Paz says an online training program will be available to staff to spur a deeper understanding of the software and all its functions and to provide a reference point down the line.

RBC is taking its full-service and self-directed brokerage business to the next level with a multi-faceted solution that adds a personal touch, he says.

“”The purpose of portfolio management is to offer people different ways of managing their money,”” he says. “”Here’s a tool to standardize that for our staff. It’s a new business concept.””

The financial group’s investment advisory staff has been “”eagerly anticipating”” the system’s delivery, according to John Truman, RBC’s senior vice-president and head of technology.

“”Some of what this software does is it helps prepare investment advisory proposals and it helps our investment advisors to manage their clients’ investment portfolio more effectively, online, and it has a lot of rich reporting capabilities,”” he says.

Truman says RBC’s investment advisors welcome the system and the company is running a second pilot in an Etobicoke, Ont.-based branch.

Otherwise, training begins at 11 branches across the country on May 12.

Reid says he is looking forward to ClientLink making his life easier. Previously, to provide his clients with complete pictures of their investment portfolio, it would take about three hours to merge all the necessary information into one report. With ClientLink the process is completed automatically and the final report is issued to the customer in seconds.

“”This is huge,”” he remarks. “”The majority of feedback I’ve heard from others on staff at this point is people are quite excited about it.””

Says Dela Paz, “”We ran a campaign well in advance of implementation and really promoted the product (to staff) . . . it also will help investment advisors with the types of clients they can attract (for new business opportunities) and to retain existing customers.””

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