growth in challenging times / xijia

To help advisors future-proof their businesses, wealth management firms in Canada have been adding executive leaders tasked with coaching both existing and new advisor teams.

Advisors require the “same high levels of service, care and thoughtfulness that, honestly, they give to their own clients,” said Andrea Hazlewood, vice-president, advisor experience and growth, with Richardson Wealth.

Hazlewood, who has been with Richardson Wealth since 2008, began her newly created role in November 2021. She noted that firms hoping to attract advisors not only need strong infrastructure and technology, but also “commitment from corporate staff” to open advisor-executive communication.

“Quite a bit of my day is [spent] talking to advisor teams, learning and listening to find out what they need to grow — and then figuring out how to execute on that,” Hazlewood said.

With all initiatives, Richardson Wealth now involves advisor team working groups from the start, identifying the benefits, challenges and training needs for all projects from their point of view. She added that she gains insights through direct advisor conversations, studying advisor analytics and working with branch managers.

One example of a coming rollout is enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of client onboarding software, Hazlewood said.

Jerry Thomas, senior vice-president, wealth strategy and advisor consulting, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc., also regularly meets with both internal and external advisors. Advisors are seeking “greater choice and control” in how they run their businesses, and often want to feel like “a partner,” said Thomas, who started his position in February 2021.

Large teams with at least $250 million in assets, in particular, “are looking for more specialized support around the metrics and areas of their practice that are important to them,” he added, such as in-depth succession planning help for their teams.

Other large practices are evolving into family offices, Thomas said. “We are currently working with advisors that require support around designing a family office strategy and understanding what needs to be included in their offering,” and there’s “customized education” around how to organize their teams and which technology is required.

Liz Lepore agrees that prioritizing advisor freedom and individuality is crucial. Lepore joined iA Private Wealth as vice-president, advisor and client experience and practice management, in February 2022. After she joined, her role expanded from focusing solely on advisor growth in the mass-market segment to include oversight of the brokerage’s digital strategy.

Both advisors and clients are demanding “hyper-personalization,” Lepore said. To that end, iA Private Wealth is developing a dashboard to offer tailored notifications about clients and specific to each advisor’s book, as well as tools for advisors such as different types of graphs to track progress toward customized growth goals.

iA Private Wealth has permitted advisors to choose their preferred client relationship management tools since president and CEO Stephan Bourbonnais joined in 2021. The firm is now developing a platform for advisors with customizable business filters called AX360.

The firm hopes tools like these will help double its assets under administration (AUA) “within the next few years” from just over $45 billion currently, iA Private Wealth noted in an emailed statement. The firm has more than 500 advisor teams across Canada.

For their part, Wellington-Altus is researching aspects like artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics to find ways to evolve client services, Thomas said.

Wellington-Altus has more than $20 billion in AUA and more than 90 advisor teams to manage. Thomas declined to provide growth goals, saying the firm had “blown through [goal] numbers from five years ago.”

Richardson Wealth had 161 advisory teams as of Sept. 30, and has set a goal of adding 14–15 new advisors and $2.5 billion–$3 billion in AUA annually.