RBCx hires former SVB Canada employees to bolster support for seed-stage and life sciences startups

RBC joins growing list of Canadian banks to add talent from now-defunct SVB Canada.

The Royal Bank of Canada’s technology and innovation arm, RBCx, has brought on four former Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) Canada employees, becoming the latest in a growing list of Canadian banks to snap up employees from the failed tech financier.

RBCx has hired Filip Stoj, former vice president (VP) of early-stage startups at SVB Canada, to lead its early-stage banking practice, as well as Andrew Owusu-Sefa (one of SVB’s first 10 Canadian employees) to serve as VP of early-stage banking.

“First and foremost, they are talented individuals from SVB Canada that understand how to work with technology companies.”
– Tony Barkett, RBCx

On the life sciences front, the organization has also added Anne Woods, previously SVB Canada’s managing director of life sciences and healthcare, to lead its life sciences practice, and Rebecca Ross (the first credit advisor hired by SVB Canada to grow its life sciences division) to co-lead RBCx’s credit advisory group with a focus on life sciences.

Per RBCx banking head Tony Barkett, these appointments come as RBCx is rolling out its early-stage banking platform and is looking to take its existing life sciences practice national.

“First and foremost, they are talented individuals from SVB Canada that understand how to work with technology companies,” Barkett told BetaKit in an interview. “We took the opportunity to be advantageous and grab some of the top talent that’s over there.”

Since SVB collapsed back in March, a number of other major Canadian banks have also been hiring talent from SVB, including CIBC, TD, Scotiabank, and National Bank—which purchased SVB Canada’s remaining commercial loan book this summer.

RELATED: National Bank acquires SVB’s Canadian commercial loan book

While Barkett does not expect one institution to fill the gap left by SVB’s absence, he believes that SVB’s collapse provides even more room for players like RBCx to expand, noting that many other financial institutions saw SVB’s collapse as an opportunity to build out their existing tech banking practices by bringing on folks who had experience working with tech startups.

Given current market conditions, Barkett believes that it is particularly important for RBCx to have a practice devoted to the needs of early-stage tech startups.

Stoj’s career has spanned traditional accounting, banking, and finance as well as entrepreneurship. He previously worked closely with early-stage tech startups as MaRS Discovery District and SVB Canada, where he provided mentorship, advisory services, and venture debt financing to both early and growth-stage tech companies.

“The talent, culture, and mission, along with the backing and commitment of Canada’s largest bank, made joining RBCx my number-one choice,” Stoj told BetaKit.

For her part, Woods’ career has been split between working in capital markets and life sciences. She most recently launched and led SVB’s life sciences practice in Canada. “There are lots of reasons it made sense for me to join RBCx,” Woods told BetaKit. “First and foremost, it allowed me to continue supporting the great life science companies and innovators in Canada.”

She described Canada as “a world leader in life science innovation,” noting that, “from insulin to stem cells to AI, we have and will continue to improve health outcomes for patients worldwide.”

RELATED: RBCx and RBC Ventures merge

With the additions of Stoj, Owusu-Sefa, Woods, and Ross, RBCx’s tech banking team now numbers over 100 employees.

Barkett teased that RBCx’s roadmap doesn’t just stop with a deeper push into serving early-stage and life sciences startups. He noted the organization also intends to provide more tailored support to cleantech and FinTech firms down the road.

“When we put RBCx together, the thought was to provide more value to help companies scale beyond just banking products,” said Barkett. “We had this business model built, and now it’s needed even more in the market now that SVB isn’t there.”

Feature image courtesy RBC.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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