FALL­ING SHORT

Is­sues with tech plat­forms and firms’ lack of sup­port for e-sig­na­tures were key rea­sons for ad­vi­sors’ dis­sat­is­fac­tion

Investment Executive - - CONTENTS - BY CU RTIS PAN KE

Ad­vi­sors are, by and large, dis­sat­is­fied with their firms’ tech­nol­ogy.

al­though tech­nol­ogy plays an in­creas­ingly crit­i­cal role in fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors’ daily busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, the ad­vi­sors sur­veyed for this year’s Deal­ers’ Re­port Card re­ported grow­ing frus­tra­tion with the level of sup­port their dealer firms pro­vide in all as­pects re­lated to tech­nol­ogy.

Ad­vi­sors gave their firms an over­all av­er­age per­for­mance rat­ing of 7.0 in the “tech­nol­ogy tools and ad­vi­sor desk­top” cat­e­gory, down from 7.4 last year. In ad­di­tion, the dif­fer­ence be­tween this year’s over­all av­er­age per­for­mance rat­ing and the cat­e­gory’s over­all av­er­age im­por­tance rat­ing of 8.8 re­sulted in a tie for the largest “sat­is­fac­tion gap” in the sur­vey.

Ad­vi­sors also were dis­pleased with their firms’ ef­forts in the “sup­port for mo­bile tech­nol­ogy and the mo­bile ad­vi­sor” cat­e­gory. Four firms’ rat­ings dropped by half a point or more in the cat­e­gory yearover-year. This, in turn, re­sulted in the over­all av­er­age per­for­mance rat­ing drop­ping to 6.7 from last year’s 7.2. And the dif­fer­ence this year be­tween the cat­e­gory’s over­all av­er­age im­por­tance rat­ing of 7.6 re­sulted in the sev­enth-high­est sat­is­fac­tion gap in the sur­vey.

There were sev­eral rea­sons for this wide­spread dis­sat­is­fac­tion with tech­nol­ogy. Some ad­vi­sors blamed their firms’ in­abil­ity to make a seam­less tran­si­tion to a new plat­form; oth­ers, that their tech­nol­ogy is out­dated and in need of an up­grade.

As for the dis­sat­is­fac­tion with mo­bile tech­nol­ogy, the big­gest point of con­tention for ad­vi­sors was that they want bet­ter sup­port to con­duct their busi­ness re­motely on their tablets and the ca­pac­ity to ac­cept e-sig­na­tures on these de­vices when meet­ing with clients.

Markham, Ont.-based World­sourceWealth Man­age­ment Inc.’ s ad­vi­sors were dis­pleased with their firm’s per­for­mance in both cat­e­gories. They gave the low­est rat­ing in the tech tools cat­e­gory, at 4.7, down from 7.3 last year, be­cause of is­sues re­lated to the tran­si­tion to Broad­ridge Fi­nan­cial So­lu­tions Inc.’s Dat­aphile plat­form from Univeris Corp.’s epony­mous plat­form. The big­gest gripe among World­source’s ad­vi­sors was that the tran­si­tion took place dur­ing this past RRSP sea­son.

“If [the com­pany] had in­tro­duced this plat­form in April or May, that would have given us a chance to be­come fa­mil­iar with [the tech­nol­ogy],” says a World­source ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “But they in­tro­duced it in Jan­uary, which is our busiest time.”

The grow­ing pains re­lated to the i mple­men­ta­tion of World­source’s new tech plat­form also re­sulted in the firm’s ad­vi­sors rat­ing their mo­bile sup­port at 5.3, down from 6.3 last year.

“I have dif­fi­culty con­nect­ing to World­source’s plat­form,” says a World­source ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “I can­not get into it us­ing my tablet.”

World­source is work­ing on im­prov­ing mo­bile sup­port as the firm builds out its new plat­form, says John Hunt, World­source’s manag­ing di­rec­tor: “[Mo­bile is] ex­tremely im­por­tant — es­pe­cially for younger ad­vi­sors. Ev­ery year, you get a gen­er­a­tion [for which mo­bile sup­port] is ex­pected.”

Ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based Hol­lisWealth Inc. also had ma­jor is­sues with a change in their tech plat­forms, a re­sult of Que­bec City-based In­dus­trial Al­liance In­sur­ance and Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Inc. (IA) ac­quir­ing Hol­lisWealth from Bank of Nova Sco­tia last year. Hol­lisWealth’s ad­vi­sors also gave their firm the sec­ond-low­est rat­ing in the tech tools cat­e­gory, at 5.8, down from 7.0 last year.

“The sys­tem we came from was way su­pe­rior,” says a Hol­lisWealth ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “We took a ma­jor step back when we were sold to IA. We’re miss­ing sim­plic­ity, clar­ity and ease of use.”

IA is try­ing to ease the tran­si­tion by at­tempt­ing to recre­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence ad­vi­sors had with their old plat­forms, says Richard Le­gault, pres­i­dent of Mon­tre­al­based In­dustr ial Al­liance Se­cu­ri­ties Inc.: We’re in­vest­ing a lot in the sys­tems and in­ter­faces right now to be able to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence [that’s] close to what [Hol­lisWealth ad­vi­sors] had be­fore — and as fast as pos­si­ble.”

Ad­vi­sors with Winnipeg-based In­vestors Group Inc. rated that firm’s tech tools at 7.3, down from 8.2 last year, for a dif­fer­ent rea­son: ad­vi­sors be­lieve the tech­nol­ogy is out­dated. In ad­di­tion, they still must deal with a lot of pa­per­work for which they be­lieve tech­nol­ogy could do the job.

“[The tech plat­form] is sup­posed to be im­prov­ing, but it’s very an­ti­quated,” says an In­vestors Group ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “We’re still us­ing a lot pa­per, which [cre­ates] more chances for mis­takes.”

Mike Dib­den, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of IGM Fi­nan­cial Inc., In­vestors Group’s par­ent, says that a dig­i­tal­iza­tion pro­gram will be l aunched this sum­mer to re­place “all of that pa­per with dig­i­tal forms that can be pre­pop­u­lated, be pre-val­i­dated and re­duce er­rors.”

Ad­vi­sors with Wind­sor, Ont.based Ster­ling Mu­tu­als Inc. also cited the use of pa­per when tech­nol­ogy could take its place as a rea­son for giv­ing their firm a mo­bile sup­port rat­ing of 7.0, down from 8.4 last year. Those ad­vi­sors men­tioned they want bet­ter sup­port to con­duct their busi­ness re­motely us­ing their tablets and to be able to ac­cept e-sig­na­tures when meet­ing with clients.

“I can’t have clients sign on a tablet,” says a Ster­ling Mu­tu­als ad­vi­sor on the Prairies. “I have to run back and get a sheet of pa­per for them to sign.”

De­spite Ster­ling Mu­tu­als’ ad­vi­sors’ dis­sat­is­fac­tion with their mo­bile tech, they gave the firm a score of 8.6 in the tech tools cat­e­gory, up from 8.1 last year, be­cause of the firm’s unique OneBoss sys­tem, de­vel­oped in­house, which, ad­vi­sors said, makes their jobs more ef­fi­cient.

“[OneBoss] makes meet­ings [with clients] to­tally sim­ple, easy and time-sav­ing,” says an­other Ster­ling Mu­tu­als ad­vi­sor on the Prairies.

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