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New technologies can improve financial planning and make it accessible to more Canadians, panelists said Wednesday at FP Canada’s 2022 Financial Planning Conference.

“I think the most valuable commodity is time, and technology gives us the ability to maximize our time,” said Christopher Dewdney, principal with Toronto-based Dewdney & Co.

He said advisors can leverage technology to take care of mundane or time-consuming tasks, giving them more time to spend with their clients.

However, Neil Gross, a Toronto-based capital markets policy consultant and former chair of the Ontario Securities Commission’s investor advisory panel, said advisors need to make sure their clients are still protected.

“You can use the technology to create better outcomes for the clients you have, or you can use the technology to create a better outcome for you by serving more clients,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re leveraging technology for the right purpose.”

Another factor for advisors is social media and its place in financial planning — namely the rise of TikTok for financial advice, said Jill Huls, CEO of Thrive Wealth Management in Regina.

Social media has increased users’ access to information, but investors should be wary of misinformation. Dewdney said investors are trusting information from often unaccredited financial influencers, or “finfluencers.” To combat this, accredited advisors should use technology to get the proper message out, he said.

With the average advisor age in Canada at 56, Gross said, some may worry about their ability to keep up with technology, or decide they don’t want to. While it’s no surprise that some advisors are hesitant to make major investments in upgrading their skills, that could be a problem in terms of remaining competitive.

However, there are also clients who are struggling to keep up, Gross said.

“Proficiency is a real battle that has to be waged every single day within this business,” he said.  “We need to find ways that advisors can manage that in a rapidly changing world, and do so for the benefits of their clients, efficiently.”

Huls said the onus might be on the firms themselves.

“How quickly can firms adjust to the environment that is being required from clients, married with the regulatory requirements that are a real part of our business alongside the change curve that advisors can digest?” she said.

Gross said FP Canada and the IQFP will also play a huge role as agents of change for the financial planning profession in this technological era.

“It is critical that financial planners, individually and as a whole, become more conversant with technology,” said Gross.