Your editorial that appears in the March 2021 edition of your newspaper (Futureproof with pandemic profits) states the retail investment business has “sailed through” the past pandemic year with good financial results.
You rightly note the industry should be mindful of important and timely government supports, such as the federal wage subsidy that lifted results in the early stages of the pandemic, as well as increased precautionary savings by Canadians. However, to the great relief of investors and the industry, rebounding equities markets and continued demand for wealth services were major factors in strong industry performance in the past year.
Your editorial warns the industry should keep its eye on factors to underpin its long-term future success, suggesting that firms use earnings gains to improve the investor experience, upgrade compliance practices and systems, and place more focus on fairness and sustainability. The industry has already made significant progress on these strategic issues through the pandemic period, driven by competitive pressures in wealth markets.
The pace of technology adoption has accelerated in recent years, resulting in the efficient delivery of wealth services and cost-effective regulatory compliance. This is evidenced in firms’ investments in technology, which accounted for about 5% of company expenses each year from 2017–20. Further, the issuance of ESG bonds and ETFs has exploded over the same period, in response to growing client interest in environmental and sustainable investments.
Ian Russell is president and CEO of the Investment Industry Association of Canada, the national association representing the position of Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada–regulated dealer member firms on securities regulation, public policy and industry issues.