Between May 4 and June 11, three research journalists — James Gaughan, Surina Nath and Daniel Reale-Chin — interviewed 288 insurance advisors.

The Insurance Advisors’ Report Card, which returned this year after a hiatus in 2020, includes three dedicated sales agencies (DSAs) and four managing general agencies (MGAs). Prior to 2021, Canada Life was included as two separate entities — Freedom 55 Financial and Canada Life’s Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise (WISE) network — but the groups, while still separate at Canada Life, are now combined in the Report Card because they use and rate the same support services. Similarly, advisors who processed business through PPI Management Inc. were again surveyed as one group, regardless of whether they worked for PPI Advisory or PPI Solutions.

Advisors were required to have an insurance licence and must have worked at or with their firms for at least one year. Those who work for DSAs were asked to rate five categories unique to their type of firm, while those who processed business through an MGA were asked to rate two categories specific to that firm type. In total, DSA respondents were asked to rate 31 categories while MGA advisors rated 28 (these totals exclude the IE rating and Net Promoter Score). They rated performance and importance only for the services they had used and could assess. Ratings were provided on a scale of zero to 10, with zero meaning “poor” or “unimportant” and 10 meaning “excellent” or “very important.”

As part of ongoing efforts to improve the research, the team removed four categories: “Support for developing an investment plan for clients,” “Firm’s delivery on promises,” “Online account access for clients” and “Firm’s reward/recognition program.” The rewards category was replaced with “Bonus structure,” which had previously been included under “Total compensation.” The online account access and “Client account statements” categories were merged.

Other category names were rephrased for clarity. For example, “Firm’s marketing support for advisor’s practice” is now “Business development support,” while the category “Firm’s stability” is now “Leadership stability.” Other categories in the main chart were renamed for simplicity. Core criteria did not change in either case.

This year’s two supplementary questions focused on the pandemic and regulation. On a scale of zero to 10, advisors rated the pandemic support efforts of either their DSA or MGA and how well their agency had prepared them for the Canadian Securities Administrators’ first wave of the client-focused reforms on conflict of interest.