RBC’s wealth management head John Taft will retire in May after over a decade in the role, the company announced Thursday. Under his leadership, the firm has grown to 1,900 financial advisors and more than $273 billion in assets under administration. The firm is searching for a successor.
Taft, 61, has overseen several broker/dealer acquisitions in his role, including the recent purchase of City National Bank. The deal brought banking and lending capabilities to the firm’s advisor force, something Taft has been a strong advocate for. Those capabilities will be rolled out to the firm’s advisors over time.
Taft has also been an advocate for stewardship in the industry, which he wrote about in his book Stewardship—Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street, released in 2012. The book, which was endorsed by former U.S. Representative Barney Frank, takes a look at what went wrong in 2008 and why, and what he believes can be done to head off the next disaster.
His most recent book, A Force for Good: How Enlightened Finance Can Restore Faith in Capitalism, pulls together commentary from industry leaders, including Robert Shiller, Jack Bogle and Mary Schapiro, to discuss how the financial services industry can harness its power for the public good. It was released last year.
Achievement and social responsibility seem to be in Taft’s DNA. He’s the great-grandson of former U.S. President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft, and the grandson of Robert Taft, the storied Republican Party leader in the U.S. Senate in the 1940s and 1950s.
He’s been an active voice for the brokerage industry, serving as SIFMA chairman in 2011. Most recently, he’s been fighting against the Securities and Exchange Commission’s effort to apply the existing fiduciary standard to brokers. He argues that the fiduciary standard, as it exists today, would not work for the brokerage industry.
Taft started in the business in 1981. Before joining RBC, he served as chairman, president and CEO of Voyageur Asset Management, president and CEO of Dougherty Summit Securities, and managing director at Piper Jaffray & Hopwood. Prior to taking over as CEO of the wealth management division, Taft was the head of asset management and products for RBC’s U.S. and international division.