RBC CEO writes to clients: Is this good or bad communication?

When I signed in to my online banking account this morning, a new message was waiting for me in my Inbox. It was from Gord Nixon, the RBC’s President and CEO.

Now, I have to confess, Mr. Nixon doesn’t write to me very often. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever written to me before. So, he and his communications department must have had a very special reason to write to me now. Or at least I’d expect so.

But when I read his message, I wasn’t sure why he was writing. I’ve pasted the full text of the message below.

What’s the real point here?

What do you think the bank is trying to achieve? And why now?

Do they really want to reassure me? Or is this part of a communications strategy related to the current efforts of the Federal Minister of Finance to persuade the banks to loosen their lending policies.

Was enough information provided to make it a good communication? Or does it require more conextual information than the average reader is likely to possess.

Bottom line: Is this a press release masquerading as a letter? And in the era of plain spoken social media, does it make the grade as effective communication with me, the bank’s customer.

Here’s the full text of the message. What do you think of it?

From : RBC Royal Bank
Subject : A Message from Gord Nixon to our Canadian clients
Date : 7 Jan 2009 16:00:00

Dear Valued Client

The world s economic challenges are a concern to every family, business and government. I would like to share with you some facts and observations about recent events in Canada, and how we at RBC can help you create confidence in your financial future.

Here in Canada, we are fortunate to have the soundest banking system in the world, and have avoided many of the problems experienced in other countries. As our economy is not invulnerable to world events, RBC and the other Canadian banks are working closely with the federal government to find ways to improve liquidity in the Canadian financial markets — opportunities that make sense, add value, and don’t introduce more risk to the system.

RBC has not changed our lending policies and practices and we are open for business. We continue to have steady, significant growth in our new mortgage financing, small business and consumer lending across all parts of Canada. These increases are based on sound and consistent lending practices that have been tested and found to work well in good times and bad, for decades.

We believe that our job is to help you create confidence in the future through good advice and access to financing. We know from speaking with millions of Canadians every day that saving money and investing for the future is a priority. RBC has thousands of committed people in our branches and contact centres across Canada with advice on how to best do that based on each individual’s circumstances and goals. We’re addressing that need — for example, today almost half of RBC customers in Canada receive a rebate on their banking transactions or get free banking. You can talk to us at any time to find out about this and other ways to save money and achieve your goals.

RBC is a strong and stable bank, dedicated to helping you achieve your goals throughout all economic cycles. We will continue to manage our bank well to preserve your confidence in us.

Thank you for choosing RBC.

Yours truly,

Gord Nixon
President and CEO