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Leaders List Interview: 60 seconds with Gail McCourt, RBC Wealth Management

2 June 2021

April French Furnell

Gail McCourt, Head of Private Client Fiduciary Services at RBC Wealth Management shares an insight into her daily life, and career so far.

 

Tell Citywealth’s readers about your role.

I head the Private Client Fiduciary Services team for RBC Wealth Management International in the Channel Islands, and am also a member of the Board. Based in Jersey and Guernsey, it’s a really diverse and motivated group that spans our client-facing trustees, the technical trust team, as well as the tax and corporate governance teams. 

 

Talk us through a typical day from the moment your alarm goes off…

My alarm goes off each morning at six, and it’s the usual family chaos of getting two teenage girls, my husband and myself sorted to head out to work and school. I am lucky to live ten minutes from our office based along the seafront in Jersey, so it’s a very short commute to work.

No two days are ever the same and that’s one of the things I love about the role – it’s a constantly evolving business. I will usually have at least five or six meetings each day – invariably many of them now online. Then I try to carve out time to push forward with new initiatives, review a plethora of papers on a multitude of subjects, and engage with the team on all of the day-to-day matters within a trust business.

Like many others, I have enjoyed more of a hybrid working arrangement over the last few months, so at some point during the day I will always get outside for a walk with my spaniel, which provides some valuable thinking time in beautiful surroundings.

 

Tell us about a recent client instruction.

We recently received an instruction to create a Jersey charitable trust with very specific charitable objects. The structure’s purpose is to support a range of philanthropic endeavours involving education and bursary schemes, medical research and the enhancement of services for those affected by mental illness.

The instruction will involve the trustees engaging with government, educational institutions and the medical profession to create a sustainable investment plan with a long-term view.  The aim is to produce a future income flow that would fund the charitable objects and last indefinitely, so it’s something that our client-facing team is really excited to work on. We were chosen due to our experience in the philanthropic area, the strength and stability of the Bank and the tenure of the trust directors.

 

What is the biggest disruptor in your industry?

Technology is often considered as having the potential to be one of the biggest disruptors in our industry, whether through the use of increasingly targeted data and analytics, Artificial Intelligence or the application of robotics. And of course the approach to cybersecurity is one which increasingly clients want to discuss and understand. I very much believe that disruption brings opportunity, particularly when it improves efficiency and speed of delivery, and frees up our key competitive differentiator – our people – to refocus their time and their skillsets on the services that our clients value most. 

 

Describe your management style.

I am surrounded by highly-qualified and talented professionals, from director-level individuals with more than twenty years’ experience through to committed and ambitious young talent who want to learn more about our clients and how they can progress their careers. My management style, therefore, is to facilitate them in being able to do their best work, with a focus on longer-term planning for the future success of the business. We have a very supportive culture within RBC and I have benefitted hugely from the insights of colleagues throughout my career so I am always keen to pay that forward.

 

What is your most memorable work moment?

One of the moments that has stuck with me was an event we held in Jersey which featured the former professional footballer, Clarke Carlisle, speaking about his challenges to manage his mental wellbeing. Mental health issues impact so many of us in so many different ways and it was genuinely moving to hear him share his insights and experiences and to talk about ways in which he deals with his challenges and has used that to support others. 

 

If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?

For the first decade of my working life, I wasn’t actually working in the wealth management industry – I led the marketing and distribution strategy for a high-tech firm in Northern Ireland and travelled across the US and Europe. That was just an amazing learning experience for me within a very dynamic, high-growth environment, so I may well have continued along that path if I hadn’t moved to Jersey with my husband.

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