By Henrik Gutle, General Manager, Azure, Microsoft Canada
Five years ago, Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. started its digital transformation journey with the goal of continually elevating client experiences. As a leading independent, full-service financial services firm with operations in two principal segments of the securities industry – wealth management and capital markets – the company is acutely aware of the promise digital transformation brings. Innovation is no longer just a competitive advantage, but critical for business resilience and the success of their clients. “We’re always asking, ‘what can we do to further enhance the experience of our clients?’” says Stuart Raftus, President of Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management.
Evolving the client experience
Across the financial services industry, there continues to be a demand for enhanced client experience. Customers are leveraging online, mobile applications and phone-in options while expecting consistent service across all channels. As a result, there is an increased importance within the industry to build a more streamlined journey for customer engagement and to empower employees to understand customers so that they can guide them through various services and offerings.
To stay ahead of the curve, Canaccord Genuity recognized years ago that the next critical step in its digital transformation and the evolution of clients’ experience would be transitioning to the cloud. With almost $98 billion CAD in assets under Canaccord Genuity’s management, the company’s leadership team needed to select a vendor with a reliable, compliant and most importantly, secure platform to host both its own and its client’s data. After evaluating a number of potential options, they realized Microsoft Azure’s cloud capabilities and broader portfolio of solutions was exactly what their company needed to drive digital innovation and achieve their long-term goals.
Harnessing the power of cloud and AI
Transitioning workloads to Microsoft Azure has helped Canaccord Genuity streamline the customer experience, moving from paper-based workloads to digital experiences ultimately allowing for greater flexibility and efficiency. Whether it’s fulfilling client onboarding or completing an investment request, the digital experiences and convenience people have become used to, such as in the retail e-commerce industry, are now available in financial services.
When it comes to the competitive landscape, Canaccord Genuity is a keen observer of other players in the industry, both new and old, and takes a planned approach with the unique needs of their clients as the top priority. While the pandemic has triggered a surge in demand for increased online services across virtually every industry, an internal analysis of Canaccord Genuity data shows that almost every segment of their client demographic prefers a more digital approach. Microsoft Azure’s AI capabilities enables the firm to distill large data sets to better understand trends, especially when it comes to investment potential and identifying opportunities other people may be overlooking. Canaccord Genuity prides itself as an organization based on relationships. “Client experience truly guides our approach to technology investment,” says Stuart Raftus.
“One of the key parts of moving to the cloud and leveraging Microsoft’s advanced technologies was the ability to scale up as our company continues to grow and our client service evolves,” says Ned Zecevic, Global Head of Information Technology at Canaccord Genuity. According to Zecevic, the unified support and resources from Microsoft to facilitate the company’s transition to Azure, as well as the implementation of other solutions including Exchange Online, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams and Windows Virtual Desktop, all served as a catalyst for Canaccord Genuity almost quadrupling their investment in digital infrastructure since 2016.
Staying cyber secure
A major component of the firm’s continued success and foundation for client relationships largely relies on its stringent security and compliance measures. When it comes to protecting client data, the company continues to adopt Microsoft cybersecurity capabilities to secure systems and enable its employees with best-in-class tools and resources.
One example of how Canaccord Genuity protects sensitive information is through Microsoft’s multi-factor authentication (MFA) and conditional access toolkit. This has helped to reduce business email compromise types of attacks which occur when a threat actor pretends to be a legitimate business account and sends emails designed to trick recipients into taking some financial action.
Canaccord Genuity has also adopted many of Microsoft’s cloud cyber security capabilities, one of them being the Sentinel Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system which has enhanced its ability to visualize threats and respond to them efficiently thereby reducing the possibility of a breach and ultimately preserving the Canaccord Genuity brand.
Empowering employees and clients for a hybrid future
As we all look toward a post-pandemic world largely defined by hybrid work, the cloud has provided Canaccord Genuity’s employees with the flexibility to work from anywhere. According to Ned Zecevic, the entire basis for leveraging Microsoft’s solutions – whether it be to support digital transformation, disaster recovery, cybersecurity or employee collaboration – is to enable Canaccord Genuity’s team to work effectively from anywhere to deliver the industry’s leading standard in client service.