plan idea / alexsl

Stéphan Bourbonnais, the new president of iA Private Wealth, says he’s on a mission to “win the hearts” of the firm’s advisors.

“It’s early days for me, but what has stood out is the passion they have for that independent model,” said Bourbonnais, who joined iA in February and is the division’s third president in four years. “I want to make sure we’re keeping that passion alive; for their business, their clients and their teams.”

Bourbonnais said his top priority is addressing long-standing issues that have lingered since Quebec City–based insurer iA Financial Group bought HollisWealth from Bank of Nova Scotia in 2017. In January, the formerly separate iA Securities and HollisWealth platforms finally united under the iA Private Wealth banner.

“I came in knowing that I wasn’t walking into a room where you just switch the light on and everything is working — but this is why I joined,” he said.

iA Private Wealth has more than $43 billion in assets under advisement (AUA) across 525 advisor teams, which equals approximately $82 million in AUA per team. Those figures are up from $38.6 billion in AUA across 523 teams as of Sept. 30, 2020.

During one-on-one calls with advisor teams across the country, Bourbonnais said he’s learned that advisors want to grow their businesses, gain “unique skills” and see investment in specialized support.

He plans to conduct strategic working sessions with all major players in the organization, including with the president’s club for top advisors. A main goal will be to “look at what we need to establish for [boosting] receptiveness” to advisor feedback, he said, adding that “it’s clear there was a lack of communication” on overall strategy.

Looking ahead, Bourbonnais sees “a huge opportunity for [advisors] to grow by acquiring other practices, even merging within the organization,” but said he doesn’t yet have specific growth goals.

He wants iA Private Wealth teams to remain focused on offering niche, tailored services to their individual clients. “Clients are saying, ‘I need to be treated based on who I am, not being offered something that’s being made for the general public,'” he said.

For high-net-worth and ultra high-net-worth clients, he said advisors want robust support services such as access to “centres of excellence” that include tax, estate and cross-border specialists. To that end, he said he hopes to partner with a U.S. dealer.

“There’s a strong appetite to go ahead with a U.S. dealer; I will make that a priority for 2021 and it’s table stakes,” said Bourbonnais. “If we want to retain high-net-worth clients, this is something we’ll be pushing extremely hard.”