Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) is pursuing an ambitious expansion strategy for its wealth-management platform, looking to hire 400 financial planners and financial advisors by 2018. That’s in addition to the 100 individuals TD has hired in the past three months.

Senior management at TD has indicated the bank wants to increase its share of both the mass affluent and high net-worth (HNW) wealth segments of the business. Expanding the distribution network, supported by a revamped advisor desktop system and other technology improvements, is key to achieving those targets, says Dave Kelly, president and national sales manager at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice (TD Wealth PIA) in Toronto.

“We have enough opportunity, both broadly in the market and also among the clients who [already] deal with TD somewhere, but who we don’t yet serve as part of the advice business,” Kelly says.

Over the next three years, TD plans to add 130 new HNW advisors, adding to the bank’s current force of 1,100 advisors, which includes 750 TD Wealth PIA advisors; 285 advisors in the private banking, private trust and private investment-counselling platforms; and 65 wealth advisory service experts.

“I would say we are starting to meet some very, very strong senior teams who can see what we’re trying to do from a client experience perspective in the market that is a little bit different from competitors,” Kelly says.

The bank also is looking to add 275 financial planners to serve the mass affluent market – 75 over the 18 months and 200 more by 2018. TD now has 885 financial planners in its branch network.

For the bank’s HNW advisor network, Kelly says, he is looking for individuals who seek to discover clients’ core values, who prioritize clients’ goals rather than asset allocation and who take a team-based approach in providing clients with investment advice.

“I’ve been clear with our folks: I’m not interested [so much] in acquiring numbers or revenue,” Kelly says. “I’m interested in acquiring top-notch advisors who are truly clientcentric and aligned with where we’re trying to go.”

TD rolled out a new advisor desktop to support its advisors this past autumn, including a new financial planning program. “[The initiative] has been received extraordinarily well by both advisors and clients, which is a good combo if you can get it,” Kelly says.

TD also wants to boost its outreach to clients, leveraging the bank’s database in order to identify customers who may benefit from products and services related to advice, as only 10% of TD’s customers currently have a TD advice-related product or service. Nevertheless, the bank is making an effort to expand its advice offerings to both existing and prospective clients. By 2020, TD would like to own 15% of the overall mass affluent and 12% of the HNW markets.

“Our advice business still has a relatively low penetration of the TD Canada Trust-available eligible population,” said Leo Salom, TD’s executive vice president of wealth management, at an investor presentation in October. “We really want to try to accelerate to take full advantage of that.”

TD’s management also may be considering the introduction of a robo-advisor platform as part of the bank’s overall wealth-management service, Kelly suggests: “As for robo-advice, we’ve definitely taken note of the growth in digitally savvy investors. Given our strong online presence, we think we are well positioned to provide these capabilities to our clients in the future as client demand for this capability builds.”

The rise of robo-advisors and digital delivery of online advice overall, Kelly says, is not incompatible with TD’s decision to boost its advisor network.

“We believe that we are likely to experience a convergence in online and [ face-to-face] advice,” he says. “We’re not there yet; but over the next five to 10 years, clients will expect the [option] to receive objective investment advice both through an advised relationship and online, and we believe that we are well positioned to respond to both [preferences].”

Scotiabank revives program

Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia is looking for the next generation of financial advisors by reviving and reinventing an almost forgotten practice: the rookie advisor program.

“Recruiting isn’t enough,” says Glen Gowland, senior vice president of Canadian wealth management with Scotiabank in Toronto. “You essentially need to build your own [rookie program].”

Scotiabank’s one-year-old Wealth Associate Program (WAP) differs from previous rookie programs, Gowland says, because the WAP emphasizes instilling the core fundamentals of financial planning first. After those principles are acquired, new advisors can branch out into roles that they find attractive, such as investment advice, private banking or private trust, initially working alongside experienced managers.

“The old rookie programs, in my experience, generally had a low success rate,” Gowland says. “You would go into quite a specialized business [immediately] and, more often than not, it didn’t work out.”

The WAP is intended to provide Scotiabank with the next generation of advisors who can take over as older advisors retire. So far, slightly more than 50 new recruits – recent university and college graduates from across Canada – have gone through the program. Scotiabank expects to continue with the WAP at its current pace and monitor to see whether the program warrants expansion. “We’re pleased with what we’ve seen,” Gowland says.

Scotia Wealth Management has more than 1,500 experienced advisors focused on the high net-worth market, but that division is not looking to expand in a significant way. “We continue to add [selectively] where there’s opportunity,” Gowland says.

Instead, Scotia Wealth Management, which recently announced a major restructuring focused on providing clients with integrated wealth-management services, is focused on adding to its team of specialists, including private bankers, trust and estate experts, and business-succession planners.

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