man using mobile phone

We live in a world that’s constantly reshaped by technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences. While technological change in itself is hardly new, the digital innovation and process automation that’s part of the fourth industrial revolution presents an opportunity to transform the financial services industry and make financial advice accessible to more Canadians.

The Covid-19 pandemic hastened the adoption of digital technologies at a speed none of us could have imagined, as organizations and businesses across sectors raced to digitize almost overnight. As clients increasingly embrace the digital world, they also are engaging in a more digital relationship with financial planners.

While there is some debate about how permanent these behaviours are, my sense is that many of these changes are here to stay.

Want more immediate, memorable insights? Listen to this Soundbites episode, featuring Tim Woodhouse, portfolio manager with J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

As more and more consumers embrace and adopt digital financial services, it’s incumbent on firms and industry organizations to understand how technology is changing the profession of financial planning. While recognizing that building trusted client relationships is still essential, we must also collectively strive to understand how technology can be leveraged to support the goal of enhancing financial wellness for all Canadians.

Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and process automation, complemented with the explosion of data are creating opportunities for financial planners to enhance efficiencies. This enables them to not only serve more clients but also spend more time working with clients helping to define, monitor and ultimately achieve their goals and objectives. Rather than being a disruptive force, technology is being leveraged to amplify the human elements, resulting in stronger and more effective client relationships and more positive outcomes for consumers.

As we consider FP Canada’s Imagine 2030 vision of financial wellness for all Canadians, it’s impossible to ignore the significant role technology will play. The ubiquitous reach of digital and mobile technologies will make financial literacy training and tools accessible to more Canadians. This can only enhance their financial confidence and capabilities.

In addition, greater efficiencies enabled by technology will result in lower costs, thereby improving the accessibility of professional financial advice. Canadians will have more access to real time data to track success and monitor risk as they engage with their financial planners and advisors in real time.

Finally, the use of more online and virtual applications will provide improved access to Canadians living and working in remote locations.

However, in embracing the potential offered by new and emerging technologies, we must be cognizant of the risks. Industry must work with legislators, regulators and fintech providers to protect consumer interests and make sure that legislation and regulations stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment.

For example, this past July the FP Canada Standards Council released two new technology rules designed to set clear expectations for planners who use technology in their practices by ensuring they understand the assumptions underlying the technology and validate that the data generated by tech tools is reasonable and appropriate for the client.

This fall, FP Canada will be launching a technology task force, bringing together stakeholders from across the financial planning ecosystem to explore how new technologies and growing digitization is changing the profession. The mandate of the FP Canada Tech Taskforce is broad and will inform many areas of work including the development of new skills and competencies for financial planners, and the evolution of our own regulation to support the accessibility of financial planning to broader and more diverse segments of the Canadian population.

As we look to a future where all Canadians, regardless of their socioeconomic background, feel secure about their financial future, we can continue to build on a world-class financial system and a thriving technology ecosystem to create a win for all — the financial services industry, the economy and consumers with financial resilience.

Tashia Batstone is president and CEO of FP Canada.