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Each year, Investment Executive explores the prevailing themes identified in the Brokerage Report Card data. In 2022, those included developments related to investment advisor pay and the growth of remote work amid the pandemic. How are advisors feeling about these themes a year later?

Total compensation

Average compensation dropped among the advisors surveyed in 2023 as markets slipped within the past year. Nonetheless, many advisors said their firms’ grids were competitive.

The Report Card measures sentiment around “total compensation” and “bonus structure” — and the advisors surveyed in 2022 requested fair, clear grids with achievable targets. For 2023, those two categories had performance averages of 8.8 and 8.3 out of 10, lower than but similar to 8.9 and 8.5 a year ago.

Feedback from 2023 highlighted similar values as a year ago. For example:

  • “Quality of life is more important than compensation. Some people get really hung up on the grid but does it really matter? Are we focusing on the right things?” – Advisor in Ontario with BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.
  • “There’s a sense of fairness and sense of sharing the wealth. This is pretty much all levels of the firm.” – Advisor with Odlum Brown Ltd.
  • “[Where] I used to work, I needed a forensic accountant to figure out how I got paid. Here, it’s nice and easy.” – Advisor with Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc.

Bonus structure

Monetary bonuses don’t typically drive advisor satisfaction, nor are they a feature respondents rave about. Advisors at several firms this year noted that bonuses were tied to adding new households. Other thoughts on bonuses in 2023 included:

  • “It’s fair but I wish they’d simplify it. […] Growth should be all that matters.” – Advisor in Alberta with CIBC Wood Gundy
  • “We do get distributions as shareholders. It’s super important to reward the right people for their efforts.” – An advisor with Leede Jones Gable Inc.
  • “It’s neither here or there. In this position it’s more of your responsibility for your own success.” – Advisor in Ontario with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (RBC DS)

Support for remote work

The performance average for “support for remote work” increased to 9.2 from 8.8 in 2022.

In the wake of the pandemic, advisors gave mixed responses about whether clients were open to in-person meetings at the office. Either way, firms’ flexibility was appreciated:

  • “We’re independent; we choose our own path. We have our systems in place to allow this. They fully support it.” – Advisor in the Prairies with iA Private Wealth
  • “Clients after Covid don’t really want to come in. [There’s] 50/50 home and office.” – Advisor in Alberta with CG Wealth Management
  • “[I spend] most of the time in the office but could get everything done at home. Sixty percent of clients come into the office. In-person meetings [are] making a comeback.” – Advisor in Ontario with Edward Jones

Advisor’s experience with back-office tools & services

The back-office category remains an area where advisor sentiment is under pressure, with the difference between its performance average and importance average (known as the satisfaction gap) growing to 1.4 in 2023 from 1.2 a year ago.

Advisors generally were divided on back-office performance at the firms assessed in the 2023 Report Card, suggesting that getting the right support people in the right positions was paramount:

  • “[The] problem in general is that this part of firm[s] is most exposed to AI and automation, [meaning a] bunch of people will be put out of work. You see a lot of turnover and lack of accountability.” – Advisor in Alberta with National Bank Financial Inc.
  • “[After Covid], the difference is that too many tools are online. I think it’s important for people to have in-person training. There needs to be a bit more customization.” – An advisor in Ontario with Raymond James Ltd.
  • “Nobody in the industry can find people. It’s a worldwide issue.” – An advisor in Alberta with RBC DS