Ad­vi­sors were split on their banks’ on­go­ing train­ing ef­forts.

Investment Executive - - FRONT PAGE - BY CU RTIS PAN KE

fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors who ply their trade at Canada’s Big Six banks greatly ap­pre­ci­ate when their bank pro­vides sup­port to im­prove their skills and con­tinue to de­velop their ca­reers. How­ever, the re­sults of this year’s Re­port Card on Banks re­vealed that some banks do a bet­ter job than oth­ers in pro­vid­ing ad­vi­sors with these nec­es­sary op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Specif­i­cally, ad­vi­sors who gave their banks the high­est, or higher, rat­ings in the “on­go­ing train­ing” cat­e­gory pointed to the ac­cess they have to re­sources such as cour­ses, con­fer­ences or help in at­tain­ing pro­fes­sional des­ig­na­tions as the main rea­sons for their sat­is­fac­tion with their banks.

Case in point: ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based Cana­dian Im­pe­rial Bank of Com­merce (CIBC) gave the bank the high­est rat­ing in the cat­e­gory for the fourth straight year — at 9.0 this year — largely be­cause of CIBC’s will­ing­ness to help its ad­vi­sors cover the cost of at­tain­ing pro­fes­sional des­ig­na­tions such as cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner (CFP) or per­sonal fi­nan­cial plan­ner (PFP).

“When I went through [this process, the] fees were c ov e re d ,” says a CIBC ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “It’s not ever ywhere your em­ployer pays for your ac­cred­i­ta­tion.”

Al­though the CFP and PFP des­ig­na­tions are manda­tory for ad­vi­sors with CIBC’s Im­pe­rial Ser­vice di­vi­sion, achiev­ing these des­ig­na­tions also is a source of pride for ad­vi­sors, says David Ni­chol­son, vice pres­i­dent, CIBC Im­pe­rial Ser­vice.

“A lot of our ad­vi­sors are very proud that they are, in fact, pro­fes­sional fi­nan­cial plan­ners or cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ners,” Ni­chol­son says. “They’re also proud be­cause this in­creases their ca­pa­bil­ity to do what’s right for their clients.”

Ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) also ap­pre­ci­ate the em­pha­sis their bank puts on im­prov­ing their train­ing com­pared with pre­vi­ous years. In fact, RBC ad­vi­sors gave their bank the sec­ond-high­est rat­ing in the on­go­ing train­ing cat­e­gory, of 8.9, up from 8.3 last year.

“Ev­ery­thing’s paid for when we want to en­hance our skills,” says an RBC ad­vi­sor in Al­berta. “The [bank] also does a lot of in-house train­ing. There’s no ex­pense to us for li­cens­ing re­quire­ments and ex­ter­nal cour­ses we need to do.”

RBC sub­si­dizes ad­vi­sors’ costs to pur­sue pro­fes­sional des­ig­na­tions. This en­sures ad­vi­sors pro­vide the best ser­vices to their clients, says Michael Walker, vice pres­i­dent, branch in­vest­ments.

“In or­der for our fi­nan­cial plan­ners to de­liver the best fi­nan­cial ad­vice to our clients,” Walker says, “con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion is the cor­ner­stone of the role.”

In the case of Toronto-based

“It’s not ev­ery­where your em­ployer pays for your ac­cred­i­ta­tion”

Bank of Nova Sco­tia, its ad­vi­sors gave the bank a rat­ing of 7.6 in the cat­e­gory, up from 7.1 last year.

Some ad­vi­sors men­tioned im­prove­ments to the train­ing the bank pro­vides. “We have ‘fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor days’ ev­ery quar­ter,” says a Sco­tia­bank ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “They come and give us the low­down on new in­for­ma­tion.”

How­ever, Sco­tia­bank, de­spite its in­creased rat­ing, gar­nered the sec­ond-low­est rat­ing of all the banks in this year’s Re­port Card. Ac­cord­ing to some Sco­tia­bank ad­vi­sors, that’s be­cause the train­ing isn’t fo­cused enough to meet their needs.

“There’s con­stant train­ing, but it’s com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant,” says an­other Sco­tia­bank ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “A lot of the [train­ing ses­sions] have to do with com­pli­ance. But they’re so repet­i­tive, they don’t add any value.”

In turn, Sco­tia­bank is work­ing to im­prove its train­ing pro­grams and sup­port sys­tem for both new and ex­pe­ri­enced ad­vi­sors, says Jamie Auer­bach, vice pres­i­dent of ad­vice and ser­vice ef­fec­tive­ness. The bank in­tro­duced ini­tia­tives such as “learn­ing zones” for newer ad­vi­sors across the coun­try and cre­ated the po­si­tion of district vice pres­i­dent, who sup­ports ad­vi­sors at the branch level and pro­vides coach­ing.

“We’ve lever­aged those learn­ing zones to bring in ex­ist­ing fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors to fo­cus on ini­tia­tives [such as] hav­ing holis­tic [wealth-man­age­ment] con­ver­sa­tions with cus­tomers,” Auer­bach says.

Al­though Sco­tia­bank ad­vi­sors were split in their as­sess­ment of that bank’s on­go­ing train­ing, ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based TD Wealth Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning, a di­vi­sion of Toronto-Do­min­ion Bank (TD), were far more neg­a­tive about their bank’s on­go­ing train­ing. In fact, the rat­ing of 6.7 that they gave their bank in the cat­e­gory not only dropped from 7.8 last year, it was the low­est on­go­ing train­ing rat­ing of all the banks in the sur­vey.

Some TD ad­vi­sors ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that the bank cut back on train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­vi­sors — no­tably, that in­house con­fer­ences are few and far be­tween and that what­ever train­ing is avail­able just doesn’t cut it.

“[The bank] seems to be cut­ting back more and more,” says a TD ad­vi­sor in British Columbia. “They cut down on the big con­fer­ences; now, it’s just small, lo­cal events. This means less and less sup­port for ad­vi­sors.”

“[TD] is try­ing to do more with less and they just don’t put the proper time and re­sources into this area,” adds a col­league in the same prov­ince. “They don’t ac­tu­ally train you; they tell you look at this on­line mod­ule — and that’s it.”

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