SUP­PORT IS KEY

Ad­vi­sors lauded firms that are proac­tive in in­form­ing them about changes in reg­u­la­tions and in train­ing

Investment Executive - - CONTENTS - BY CHARLES BOSSY

Ad­vi­sors are turn­ing to their firms for help in deal­ing with the in­creas­ing vol­ume of reg­u­la­tory change.

as the pace of reg­u­la­tory change in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor con­tin­ues un­abated, fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors are turn­ing more and more to their firms for sup­port in nav­i­gat­ing th­ese sub­stan­tial changes.

In turn, most ad­vi­sors gave high praise to their firms in the “sup­port for deal­ing with changes in the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment” cat­e­gory: the over­all aver­age per­for­mance rat­ing for all firms in this year’s Re­port Card se­ries was 8.6, good for six­th­high­est among all the cat­e­gories.

Specif­i­cally, ad­vi­sors lauded their firms for be­ing proac­tive in deal­ing with reg­u­la­tory changes and for be­ing com­mu­nica­tive and of­fer­ing the tools and train­ing nec­es­sary to deal ef­fec­tively with th­ese changes.

“[My firm] is very proac­tive, from high man­age­ment down to lower man­age­ment; they’re very good at bring­ing in­for­ma­tion to us,” says an ad­vi­sor in On­tario with Toronto-based Bank of Mon­treal.

“[My firm] has been get­ting in front of ad­vi­sors and let­ting us know how im­por­tant th­ese changes are and how to deal with them,” adds an ad­vi­sor in On­tario with Mon­treal-based Na­tional Bank Fi­nan­cial Ltd.

Ed­ward Jones’ ad­vi­sors gave their firm the high­est per­for­mance rat­ing in this cat­e­gory, at 9.6, be­cause, they said, the Mis­sis­sauga, Ont.-based bro­ker­age firm has taken this proac­tive ap­proach to the next level.

“They’ve been ahead of the curve for two years now [on mat­ters such as the sec­ond phase of the client re­la­tion­ship model],” says an Ed­ward Jones ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “And [the changes] have been care­fully com­mu­ni­cated to us.”

“When we look at reg­u­la­tory change, we put our­selves in a po­si­tion to be aware of all the devel­op­ments, whether they’re out as con­cept pa­pers or in the fi­nal rule form,” ex­plains Wayne Bolton, Ed­ward Jones’ chief com­pli­ance of­fi­cer. “We are con­tin­u­ally mon­i­tor­ing reg­u­la­tory changes. In­ter­nally, we re­view them and dis­cuss what they mean to us, our ad­vi­sors and our clients.”

Part of en­sur­ing that ad­vi­sors are kept up to date and com­pli­ant on all the new reg­u­la­tions is by hav­ing solid and thor­ough com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Specif­i­cally, ad­vi­sors sur­veyed for the Re­port Card se­ries noted that good com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their firms en­sures that ad­vi­sors are com­pli­ant with any new rules that come into place.

“The head-of­fice sup­port staff is knowl­edge­able and up to date. There’s lots of ad­vance no­tices,” says an ad­vi­sor in At­lantic Canada with Mon­treal-based Peak Fi­nan­cial Group. “I feel well in­formed.”

“[My firm] com­mu­ni­cates changes ahead of time,” adds an ad­vi­sor in the same re­gion with Toronto-based As­sante Wealth Man­age­ment (Canada) Ltd. “It’s re­ally proac­tive. I’ve been in the in­dus­try for 32 years and I’ve never had a com­plaint. [As­sante] makes sure I’m com­pli­ant. [Our com­pli­ance depart­ment] is on top of ev­ery­thing.”

No­tably, As­sante made sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts dur­ing the past sev­eral years to talk with its ad­vi­sors about changes to the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, says Steve Don­ald, the firm’s pres­i­dent.

He adds that keep­ing ad­vi­sors up to date and in­formed on reg­u­la­tory changes is im­por­tant: “We host a net­work­wide con­fer­ence call ev­ery quar­ter, talk­ing about cur­rent ini­tia­tives in the in­dus­try and in our firm. We have monthly com­pli­ance calls with all of our branches to talk about is­sues. We def­i­nitely high­light how ad­vi­sors should pre­pare their prac­tices. Prob­a­bly the most sig­nif­i­cant thing we do is a lot of in­ter­nal train­ing.”

Tr ai n i n g leads to com­pli­ance

Through train­ing, firms are able to ar­tic­u­late reg­u­la­tory changes to ad­vi­sors much more com­pre­hen­sively. To that end, ad­vi­sors sur­veyed for this year’s Re­port Card se­ries said that work­shops and sem­i­nars help to en­sure ad­vi­sors are well ed­u­cated and stay com­pli­ant.

“The firm of­fers lots of sup­port, with sem­i­nars, we­bi­nars, meet­ings and ed­u­ca­tional re­sources, to en­sure that we are as pre­pared as pos­si­ble,” says an ad­vi­sor in Al­berta with Van­cou­ver-based Canac­cord Ge­nu­ity Wealth Man­age­ment (Canada).

“[My firm] has train­ing ses­sions ev­ery year on com­pli­ance and has a web­site that has all the com­pli­ance [in­for­ma­tion],” adds an ad­vi­sor in Al­berta with Mis­sis­sauga-based IDC World­source In­surance Net­work Inc. (IDC WIN).

En­sur­ing ad­vi­sors are well ed­u­cated and have the proper tools avail­able to an­swer any com­pli­ance-re­lated ques­tions is cen­tral to IDC WIN’s ap­proach to keep ad­vi­sors abreast of any reg­u­la­tory changes, says Ron Madzia, the firm’s pres­i­dent.

“[We] have a li­brary of tools, doc­u­ments and re­sources on our web­site, so that even if [ad­vi­sors] are not close to a lo­cal of­fice, [they] can ac­cess ev­ery­thing [they] need re­motely,” he says. “We do a lot of education; we of­fer par­tic­u­lar education ses­sions ded­i­cated for com­pli­ance only that are run by ex­ec­u­tives across the coun­try. Just hav­ing stuff on­line and sent through email isn’t enough. You have to get out in the field. You have to make sure [ad­vi­sors and staff are] out there do­ing [what’s] re­quired.”

De­spite ad­vi­sors’ over­all sat­is­fac­tion with their firm’s sup­port for deal­ing with reg­u­la­tory changes, a small but no­tice­able group of ad­vi­sors were not pleased with their firm’s ef­forts in this key cat­e­gory.

The most preva­lent griev­ance among th­ese ad­vi­sors was the be­lief that their firms could do more to help ad­vi­sors an­tic­i­pate and ad­just for changes.

“[My firm] waits un­til the very last minute to do any sort of reg­u­la­tory an­nounce­ments or changes. Noth­ing’s re­ally done proac­tively,” says an ad­vi­sor in On­tario with Toron­to­based Bank of Nova Sco­tia.

Adds an ad­vi­sor in Al­berta with Lon­don, Ont.-based Free­dom 55 Fi­nan­cial: “The [firm is] al­ways be­hind. When there were new changes to the In­surance Act, I knew about those changes two years [be­fore­hand].”

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