Who's Next in Line at Royal Bank of Canada?

| About: Royal Bank (RY)

As Pablo said in one of the better Backyardigans’ episodes: “it’s quiet, too quiet.”

Isn’t the notional term of Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE:RY) CEO Gord Nixon due to end in 18 months or so? Who is next in line? And why are the drums not beating yet?

It was so obvious last time (Gord Nixon), and the time before that (John Cleghorn), but it appears that a true horse race is building over in Leoland. One that we’ve not seen since the days of Don Fullerton or Al Flood at CIBC.

The fact that the drums are barely beating is impressive. Speculation usually starts to swirl around this time, and yet the succession plan rumor mill at Canada’s most important institution is incredibly quiet. Whomever you might listen to, everyone agrees that the RBC Board of Directors has a wealth of great choices within the ranks.

The traditional, perhaps obvious, choice is between the talents of Dave McKay and George Lewis, who run the Canadian retail bank and wealth management groups respectively. But I’m told not to overlook the Co-Heads in the Capital Markets Group: Doug McGregor and Mark Standish. Gord Nixon came from the DS side of the business, after all. Mr. McGregor has maintained RBC’s standing within the Canadian i-banking fraternity, and Mr. Standish’s U.S. leadership post Sept. 11th is still talked about across the firm. Although he is British-born, and a U.S. citizen, perhaps that fits the ever-growing focus RBC has in growing its international franchise.

The RBC Board and current CEO should be congratulated: They’ve been able to recruit, retain, hone and grow at least four worthy candidates to consider. A luxury that few, if any, other large Canadian institutions enjoy.

Disclosure: We own Royal Bank of Canada shares in our household