CSA report: divisions remain over “best interest”

Client accounts are moving around at Winnipeg-based Investors Group Inc. perhaps like never before after the dealer firm reduced its roster of financial advisors over the past few months.

The firm recently parted ways with approximately 400 primarily younger advisors as CEO Jeff Carney continues to put his stamp on the company, slightly more than a year into his tenure. At the end of the first quarter, the company had 4,754 advisors, down from 5,321 a year ago. Almost half of those who remain (2,262) are considered veterans with four or more years of experience.

Read: IGM downsizing, focusing on HNW clients

In turn, regional managers at Investors Group are overseeing the reassignment of clients to veteran advisors who remain with the firm, says Ron Arnst, assistant vice president of brand management and media relations.

“Typically, the regional manager matches clients with appropriate [advisors] considering any clients requests, such as age range and gender,” he says.

Investors Group clients are free to switch advisors within the company at any time, a process regional directors also facilitate.

However, clients who have opted to follow their departing advisor to another firm were subject to the typical redemption and withdrawal process, Arnst says, noting that the deferred sales charge (DSC) schedule also applies.

“DSC funds carried a slightly lower [management expense ratio], but also had an additional fee schedule that applied if or when the client redeemed the investment prior to the seven-year schedule period,” he says.

Investors Group is far from alone in taking such steps, says Dan Richards, CEO of Clientinsights in Toronto. Specifically, larger financial services firms have been taking a harder look at their smaller producers during the past several, often making the payout gird more punitive.

Read: Finding another home for clients?

“In some cases, I’m sure [larger firms] hoped the advisors would get the message and find somewhere else to work,” Richards says. “If firms aren’t seeing the prospects of running a significant book of business, increasingly they’re saying [to those advisors], ‘It’s not going to work out’.”

Along with the increased focus on veteran advisors, Investors Group is also increasing its focus on high net-worth clients. However, the firm isn’t looking to shed smaller accounts.

“Investors Group is committed to working in the best interests of all clients,” Arnst says, “regardless of asset size.”

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