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Many brokerage advisors value their independence, but still expect firms to offer business development resources.

“We don’t do a ton of outward marketing,” said one Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. advisor who mainly relies on referrals from clients for new business. But, the advisor added, “Any time we’ve needed assistance, they’ve been helpful.” (The firm received the highest rating in the “business development & marketing support” category, 9.6 out of 10, out of all firms in the 2024 Brokerage Report Card.)

Another Wellington-Altus advisor said the firm is “100% supportive on anything you want to do. They’ll partner with you on everything.”

Strong business development and marketing support was also a differentiator for advisors with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. An RBC DS advisor in Alberta said they chose the brokerage in part for its branding resources and access to business development experts. (RBC DS was rated second-highest in the category, at 8.9, up from 8.5 in 2023.)

Nonetheless, the category of business development and marketing support has been consistently among the lowest-rated of the 27 categories for performance. It was rated 7.8 this year, similar to 7.9 a year ago.

Three firms saw year-over-year rating changes of half a point or more in the business development category: BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. (6.4, down from 7.8 in 2023); Edward Jones (rated 7.9, down from 8.6) and TD Wealth Private Investment Advice (7.2, up from 6.7).

Many Nesbitt Burns advisors noted a lack of support. “I don’t do a lot of prospecting,” acknowledged a Nesbitt Burns advisor in Ontario. However, they called their marketing allowance “a little skimpy.” Several other Nesbitt Burns advisors across the country agreed, variously characterizing business support and marketing resources as “low,” “limited” and “restrictive,” with not enough customization.

“[They’re] cutting back substantially on what they offer,” said another Nesbitt Burns advisor in Ontario.

“Investing in [advisors’] development and growth will always be a priority,” a spokesperson for BMO Nesbitt Burns said in an email. The firm pointed to its practice management group and its referrals to external coaches, such as those specializing in digital presence and communication.

Several advisors with Edward Jones, meanwhile, said business support and marketing resources were ample but not always relevant. A few more advisors said their support was improving, but could be better.

“I do a fair bit of marketing. There’s a lot of existing stuff already, but [getting] customized stuff is not so easy,” an advisor with Edward Jones in Atlantic Canada said.

An Edward Jones advisor in British Columbia said marketing support is important, but felt the firm’s current branding “doesn’t really speak to me or my ideal client.”

“[We’re committed] to supporting and developing our branch teams and advisors from hiring through to retirement,” said Lauren Robertson, general partner, strategic planning and enablement with Edward Jones. She said the firm has invested in business consulting and coaching resources, as well as training programs that include development packages for advisors.

For advisors who want customized marketing, “we’re in the early stages of looking at how we can help advisors to connect individually with their communities,” said Moira Klein-Swormink, principal, branch development Canada, with Edward Jones. The firm has ongoing pilot programs regarding social media use and client seminars, for example.

At TD Wealth PIA, the rating for business development & marketing support increased, largely due to the firm’s team-building resources. One of the brokerage’s advisors in Ontario said TD’s practice management and succession planning experts were “excellent,” but “the marketing support was not.”

Other advisors with TD Wealth PIA described the firm’s marketing department as “overwhelmed” and hampered by “a lot of internal restrictions” that can cause approval delays and less customization.

The firm’s practice management and investment consulting teams provide coaching that’s “tailored to the specific needs of our advisors,” said Leo Pollard, vice-president, investment management practices and specialized services, wealth advice, TD Wealth, in an email.

Pollard acknowledged that TD’s marketing team is “in high demand,” and said, “Our business will continue to look to expand our business development support teams with impactful talent.”

The bank brokerage has customized its training programs for advisors, Pollard added, and encourages advisors to share best practices with each other.

Advisors of all experience levels said they value opportunities to gather business tips. “It would be nice if [the firm] shared best practices. They let us be independent, but it would be nice to know what successful people do,” said an advisor with iA Private Wealth in B.C. (As in 2023 and 2022, iAPW was rated lower than most firms for business development & marketing support. This year’s rating was 7.0, versus 7.1 last year.)

iAPW’s executives said the firm’s practice management team offers training on topics such as technology and team management. Additional resources are available to iAPW’s top 100 advisors.

This article appears in the June issue of Investment Executive. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.