My Best Career Moments: People, Empathy, and Innovation

Author: Michael J. Walker, Vice President & Head, Mutual Funds Distribution & RBC Financial Planning
Read Time : 4 minutes

“ Everyone has moments in their career and life that define who they are ” 

Michael J. Walker currently leads RBC’s team of Financial Planners, driving innovative products and experiences for clients – such as MyAdvisor, RBC’s new digital investment advice experience. As part of our Best Moments series, we met with Michael to discuss his career path at RBC.

Tell us about your journey at the Royal Bank.
For the first five years of my career, I worked as an Advisor, enabling clients to achieve their goals in Financial Planning. After eleven different roles at RBC, I’m most proud of our collective focus to help people design plans for financial legacy. I’m also grateful that we’re able to recognize and reward our team for their contributions to improve the lives of Canadians, while supporting them with category-leading client experience and product innovations. 

What is your own Best Moment at RBC? 
I’m actually having the best moment in my career right now, because I see the difference our Financial Planners are making in the lives of our clients and their families.  I’m pumped about the opportunity and potential we’re seeing in today’s environment. From product innovations to new distribution, there’s never been a better time to be working in this industry…and I know there’s even more to come, especially at RBC.

How do digital experiences and products blend with the human factor of Financial Planning? 
In today’s world of hyper-fast technology, it’s important to focus on how we can use that technology to enhance client relationships, not replace them. We continually ask our Financial Planners for feedback, and use fast development cycles to translate those insights into new features and functionality. We encourage an environment that allows Financial Planners to create a holistic world of services and products based on purpose-driven values and wealth-generating goals. Ultimately, technology has to serve the person – our clients, our Financial Planners. MyAdvisor is an example of this: a digitally-enabled investment advice experience that helps clients reach their financial goals, supported by a team of financial experts, through the channel of their choice.

What’s in store for the future world of work? 
The notion of “radical candor” among our team members is gaining a lot of ground – where we speak openly with each other about our individual strengths and challenges as we work together.  An integral part of this candor is empathy – bringing in the human element you asked about earlier.  We have to always remember that we’re an inclusive and dynamic ensemble of people, not machines.

What advice would you give someone looking for a change in their Financial Planning career?
Career decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly. This isn’t speed dating. Be clear about what you’re looking for, and make sure your work environment aligns with your personal values.

Also, do your due diligence. Leverage your network to learn about working environments and practical realities. Immerse yourself in the networking community. Events like RBC ICON (Investment Career Opportunities Networking) are designed to create conversations between like-minded professionals at similar points in their careers, and facilitate dialogue to bring meaning to what we do.

Over the years, I’ve mapped-out 7 Career Tips, from goal setting to career planning. For example, values held in your role should map with your team’s ability to collaborate and build momentum, and connect you with strong leaders to understand what it takes to be successful. Once all this aligns with a specific organization, you’ll have found a solid platform on which to build your career plan.

To find out more about Michael’s 7 Career Tips, stay tuned for the next edition of our series.

Ready to experience your career’s Best Moments? Join our Financial Planning team at jobs.rbc.com/FinancialPlanning

Michael J. Walker is Vice President & Head, Mutual Funds Distribution & RBC Financial Planning, and has worked at RBC for almost three decades.