question marks / Canan turan

This article appears in the March 2022 issue of Investment Executive. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.

Technology can improve efficiency in your practice in many ways. Software innovations can help you increase productivity, cut costs and improve client satisfaction. Sadly, Canadian financial institutions could do better at technological innovation. A 2021 survey of Canadian financial services firms from New York-based Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., released this year, found that only 53% of respondents gave their own digital transformation efforts an “A” or a “B” rating.

How does your practice stack up? Take our innovation test to find out.

Choose the statement that best describes your answer to the following questions:

1. How much do the principals in your practice or branch participate in innovation?

  • Leaders/branch managers meet regularly with staff to discuss status of projects and coordinate new innovation opportunities.
  • Staff and leaders discuss innovation on an ad hoc basis but it isn’t a priority.
  • There’s little to no communication with or guidance from leaders on innovation.

2. Are you willing to take risks with new technology projects?

  • We’ll try most recommendations if there’s a clear business case.
  • We’ll try small projects that don’t threaten the status quo.
  • We don’t have time or money to invest in technology.

3. How much does the client’s experience drive new technology projects?

  • It’s behind everything we do. We base our projects on client feedback.
  • We include some consideration of client benefits when evaluating projects.
  • We focus on internal benefits, such as cost savings, and don’t really think about the client’s experience.

4. How do you measure the success of an innovation?

  • We tailor the metrics we use based on the technology project’s goals.
  • We always use the same metric (for example, return on investment).
  • We don’t measure specifically but might use anecdotal feedback where possible.

5. Do you have “champions” on your staff who drive the adoption of new technologies?

  • Yes, we have advocates that come up with ideas and manage them from end to end.
  • Technology adoption is done by consensus and there’s no clear project owner.
  • We don’t have anyone driving innovation in the practice.

6. How integrated is your client relationship management (CRM) system with other technologies in your practice, such as marketing automation, workflow management and portfolio-management software?

  • We use our CRM as a hub that feeds information to most or all of our other systems.
  • We exchange information with some systems but there’s no concerted effort.
  • We just use our CRM for contacts; or we don’t have a CRM system.

7. How digitized is your client onboarding process?

  • Completely, with documents signed and delivered electronically.
  • Partially, with some documents still managed manually.
  • Not at all; it’s entirely paper-based.

8. How digitized is your appointment booking system?

  • Clients can book their own appointments online.
  • An assistant uses digital calendars to book and confirm appointments manually.
  • We keep everything on paper.

9. Do you offer videoconferencing capabilities for clients?

  • Yes.
  • No, but we’re working on it.
  • We have no plans to do so.

10. Do you offer digital file sharing for your clients?

  • Yes, using a secure cloud-based system, or we distribute files via a portal.
  • We encrypt files manually and send them via encrypted email.
  • No, files are paper-based only or sent via unencrypted email.

11. How do you report on and discuss your clients’ portfolio status?

  • We use portal-driven, dynamic, digital reporting tools that let us quickly alter data and try out “what if” scenarios.
  • We use static presentation slides.
  • We rely on paper reports.

12. Please consider your practice’s website.

  • Score an “a” if your website includes four or five of the features below.
  • Score a “b” if it includes one to three of the features below.
  • Score a “c” if you have no website, or if your website includes none of the features below:
    • clear details of each advisor’s contact information, services, and specialties;
    • links to advisors’ professional social media accounts;
    • an email capture form;
    • a comprehensive front-end or back-end update in the past seven years;
    • the ability to display properly on mobile devices.


How did you do?

Mostly “a”s: You’re on the leading edge. Companies that adopt a coordinated approach to technology adoption will thrive. Using digital tools to streamline workflows and provide a smoother client experience will create a more productive, responsive practice.

Mostly “b”s: You’re on the right track but could do more. Consider the areas in which you missed out on the top score. These will indicate opportunities for cultural change and smart technology adoption to help drive productivity and improve your service to clients.

Mostly “c”s: Pay more attention to how technology could benefit your practice and your clients. Identify your business goals and either talk to your firm about how technology could help you achieve them or call a consultant who can help kick-start your innovation program.