Banks praised for their help in tak­ing care of wealthy clients.

Investment Executive - - FRONT PAGE - BY FIONA COL­LIE

al­though the fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors sur­veyed for In­vest­ment Ex­ec­u­tive’s an­nual Re­port Card on Banks typ­i­cally cater to the needs of mass-af­flu­ent clients, most sur­vey par­tic­i­pants were con­fi­dent that they and their banks are pre­pared to help wealth­ier clients when re­quired.

That most banks are on track in this area was ev­i­dent in the over­all av­er­age per­for­mance rat­ing of 8.5 ad­vi­sors gave their banks in the “prod­ucts and sup­port for high net-worth clients” cat­e­gory.

The in­dus­try stan­dard to be con­sid­ered a high net-worth (HNW) client is either $500,000 or $1 mil­lion in in­vestible as­sets. But, at the bank branch level, ad­vi­sors can ac­cess spe­cial­ized sup­port ser­vices for clients who have com­plex needs. In ad­di­tion, clients with at least $250,000 in in­vestible as­sets can ac­cess spe­cial prod­ucts avail­able only to them. (Ad­vi­sors also have ac­cess to other di­vi­sions within their banks, such as the bro­ker­age and the pri­vate bank, to help HNW clients.)

Ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based Cana­dian Im­pe­rial Bank of Com­merce’s (CIBC) Im­pe­rial Ser­vice di­vi­sion be­lieve they are well pre­pared to help clients who have more com­plex needs. Thus, they gave that bank a rat­ing of 9.3, the high­est in the cat­e­gory.

“We bring in ex­perts from all over to sup­port [HNW clients],” says a CIBC ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “Clients feel we un­der­stand their sit­u­a­tions and we can help them.”

Specif­i­cally, CIBC’s ad­vi­sors have ac­cess to the bank’s fi­nan­cial plan­ning and ad­vice cen­tre’s sup­port line, which was up­graded re­cently. CIBC hired more staff for the sup­port line, and the cen­tre’s staff call ad­vi­sors proac­tively to re­view a client’s fi­nan­cial plan.

“We have had that sup­port for a while, but we’ve taken it a step fur­ther this year,” says David Ni­chol­son, vice pres­i­dent, Im­pe­rial Ser­vice, with CIBC.

Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which re­ceived the sec­ond-high­est rat­ing in the cat­e­gory, at 9.0, also re­cently stepped up its fo­cus on tak­ing care of wealth­ier clients’ needs.

The bank now of­fers the RBC In­vest­ment Ad­van­tage Ac­count, a re­tail, fee-based ac­count with tiered pric­ing for clients with a min­i­mum of $250,000 in in­vestible as­sets. This as­set level can be reached by fam­ily mem­bers pool­ing their in­vest­ment ac­counts.

“We’re get­ting a lot of great feed­back,” says Michael Walker, vice pres­i­dent, branch in­vest­ments, with RBC. “We’re al­ready get­ting more than $15 bil­lion in as­sets [un­der man­age­ment], and that’s pri­mar­ily through our fi­nan­cial plan­ning chan­nel.”

“This tiered ac­count is the best thing we’ve seen in a while,” says an RBC ad­vi­sor in At­lantic Canada. “It’s been a long time com­ing.”

A tiered fee struc­ture also was one rea­son many ad­vi­sors with Mon­treal-based Na­tional Bank of Canada were pleased with their bank’s sup­port for HNW clients, which ad­vi­sors rated at 8.1. The bank of­fers a pri­vate wealth­man­age­ment so­lu­tion for clients with a min­i­mum of $250,000 in in­vestible as­sets (for which as­sets pooled by fam­ily mem­bers can qual­ify).

“By amal­ga­mat­ing the as­sets, [clients] can ben­e­fit from many things — i n terms of bank­ing ser­vices, as well as fees — be­cause the more as­sets [clients] have, the lower the [fee] is,” says Nancy Pa­quet, vice pres­i­dent, in­vest­ments, with Na­tional Bank.

“[The HNW sup­port is] well man­aged,” says a Na­tional Bank ad­vi­sor in Que­bec. “There are bank dis­counts avail­able. It’s re­ally good, over­all.”

In the case of Toronto-based TD Wealth Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning, a di­vi­sion of Toronto-Do­min­ion Bank, its ad­vi­sors also have ac­cess to wealth-man­age­ment spe­cial­ists via a call cen­tre or email in or­der to serve clients with more com­plex needs. Clients also can meet with in­vest­ment spe­cial­ists face to face to get help in build­ing a port­fo­lio. Yet, some TD ad­vi­sors be­lieve their bank’s of­fer­ings for wealth­ier clients fall short, as the bank gar­nered a rat­ing of only 7.7 in this cat­e­gory.

Says a TD ad­vi­sor in British Columbia: “[The bank] can be do­ing a lot more to com­pete.”

Still, most of TD’s ad­vi­sors noted that there are other di­vi­sions within the bank that con­cen­trate on tak­ing care of HNW clients and to which ad­vi­sors can re­fer these clients. In fact, TD Wealth Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning of­fers com­pen­sa­tion when ad­vi­sors make such re­fer­rals.

Ad­vi­sors with RBC, CIBC and Toronto-based Bank of Mon­treal (BMO) have sim­i­lar ar­range­ments through which they can re­fer clients to other units within their banks — such as their bro­ker­age, pri­vate bank­ing or pri­vate coun­sel di­vi­sions. All three banks of­fer com­pen­sa­tion to their ad­vi­sors for such re­fer­rals, al­though at BMO, that de­pends on the cir­cum­stances.

“My in­ter­ac­tions with both [BMO] Nes­bitt Burns [Inc.] and [BMO Har­ris] Pri­vate Bank­ing, [have been] ex­cel­lent,” says a BMO ad­vi­sor in On­tario.

“If we get to the point at which [I can’t of­fer] what a client needs,” adds an RBC ad­vi­sor in B.C., “I get ac­cess to part­ners [within the bank].”

RBC’s ad­vi­sors made more than 3,000 HNW client in­tro­duc­tions to part­ners at RBC Do­min­ion Se­cu­ri­ties Inc. or RBC PH&N In­vest­ment Coun­sel in 2017, says Walker: “[This is] a core part of [ad­vi­sors’] on­go­ing re­la­tion­ships and a core part of the role.”

Ad­vi­sors with Toronto-based Bank of Nova Sco­tia, who rated their bank’s HNW sup­port at 8.2, also are quite happy to re­fer clients to other di­vi­sions in the bank, al­though ad­vi­sors aren’t com­pen­sated for such re­fer­rals.

“We have an ex­cel­lent pro­gram for wealth man­age­ment,” says a Sco­tia­bank ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “We have a sys­tem at the branch in which we iden­tify those clients and re­fer them.”

“We bring in ex­perts from all over to sup­port our HNW clients”

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