Replacing Qoola, an RBC ‘student centre’ is moving into the Nest

A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) outlet is moving into the Nest, replacing the frozen yogurt shop Qoola, which is being sued by the AMS for failing to pay over two years of rent.

According to AMS President Alan Ehrenholz, the outlet will be the second of a new RBC branch model that caters specifically to students. In place of tellers and banking machines, it will have iPads for students to manage their funds and a student lounge that can be booked for events.

Emanuel Emmanuel, an RBC assistant branch manager and team lead for the new outlet, echoed this description.

“You know what? I almost don’t want to call this new format a bank,” he said. “I see it as more of a student centre designed to deliver a deeper, more personal experience to students.”

Three pillars of focus

The outlet has declared three pillars of focus for its services.

The first pillar, “Students at Work,” aims to help students navigate the workforce by providing career advice as well as opportunities for networking, work experience and mentorship within the industry.

It also means sponsoring partnerships with AMS services. In particular, RBC has pledged $28,500 for the “RBC Get Seeded” program in collaboration with AMS eHub, where students can pitch their ideas and win $500 to start their projects.

The second pillar is financial literacy via drop-in advising and financial planning workshops. The last pillar revolves around student wellness. Specifically, Emmanuel said RBC will partner with established programs like the AMS Food Bank to amplify their services.

“We want to be able to connect those who need it with those who can help however we can,” he said.

Why an RBC outlet?

So far, students have expressed a lack of demand for an RBC outlet in the Nest, given the fact that the bank is not used by everyone and there is interest for bringing other businesses to campus like Chipotle.

“I think it’s a waste of space as compared to another outlet that could serve students in some way, as opposed to a branch of one bank that’s only useful to people who bank at RBC, and on top of that people who do bank with RBC aren’t very likely to use its services daily,” commented Reddit user u/blueish101.

“Another food outlet (I’ve seen Chipotle or Nando’s mentioned before) would probably have greater benefit to students overall.”

In response, Ehrenholz attributed the decision to two main reasons: expanding the diversity of businesses being offered in the Nest and guaranteeing financial security for the society.

“All of our outlets are currently food-based outlets and some of our tenants are also food-based, so we really were looking for something that was different,” he said. “[And it’s important to us] to be able to predict our budget and predict part of our business contribution back to the services.”

Emmanuel also clarified that the outlet won’t be only for RBC clients.

“Our focus will be on students wholesale [so] it doesn’t matter who you bank with,” Emmanuel said. “All we care about is supporting students on campus, enhancing student life on campus.”