Jordy Chilcott, now head of investment distribution with Toronto-based Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. (SLGI), is on a mission to get more financial advisors selling that company’s products.
However, given the steadily growing number of investment products in Canada, the competition is fierce. And with securities regulators focusing more heavily on “know your product” (KYP) requirements, many advisors and dealer firms are scaling back the number of products on their shelves. Those factors pose challenges for any investment company seeking to increase its sales.
Nonetheless, Chilcott is steadfast about his plans for growth at SLGI, Toronto-based Sun Life Financial Inc.’s mutual fund arm.
“The biggest opportunity I see is to take the distribution footprint and increase it significantly,” says Chilcott, age 49, who joined SLGI in December. Specifically, he says, he intends to “bring the [SLGI] story to a larger audience and compete for that shelf space that’s only going to get more competitive.”
SLGI has grown rapidly since its launch in 2010. The firm has accumulated $21.3 billion in assets under management as of Feb. 28, helped in part by its acquisition of Mississauga, Ont.-based Excel Funds Management Inc., which closed in early January.
That rapid growth is one factor that attracted Chilcott to SLGI. “I really haven’t seen that [level of growth] anywhere in Canada over the same period of time,” he says.
Chilcott has more than three decades of experience in Canada’s financial services sector, having launched his career straight out of high school. At age 17, he became one of the youngest licensed securities traders ever to work at the Vancouver Stock Exchange, and his career took off from there.
Chilcott spent five years working as an advisor before advancing into management-level roles. Among those was a director’s position with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. in Atlantic Canada, in which he was responsible for overseeing approximately 300 advisors.
From there, Chilcott switched from the advisory side of the business to the fund manufacturing side. He spent six years at Standard Life Assurance Co. of Canada, holding senior roles in which he contributed to exponential growth in that company’s funds business.
Chilcott then joined Toronto-based Dynamic Funds, owned at that time by DundeeWealth Inc. He worked at Dynamic for more than a decade, both before and after its acquisition by Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia. Most recently, he was senior vice president of global asset management with Scotiabank and president and CEO of Dynamic Funds.
Throughout Chilcott’s career, he pursued education through university-level executive-training programs, including those of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., Duke University in Durham, N.C., and Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec. He also holds the certified financial planner designation.
Chilcott’s experience on both the advisory and wholesale distribution sides of the investment business positions him well for his new role at SLGI, in which he’ll be focused on helping wholesalers capture more business from independent advisors.
But with a steadily growing array of ETFs and mutual funds available to advisors in Canada, Chilcott admits, getting advisors’ attention can be difficult: “It’s a highly, highly competitive [market].”
SLGI has a broad product shelf – including mutual funds, segregated funds, annuities and GICs – and offers services such as advanced tax and estate planning education, information and support. That variety, says Chilcott, gives SLGI an edge over some of its competitors.
“We have an advantage because we’re not trying to get in [an advisor’s] door just with the latest fund offering,” Chilcott says. “Sun Life and SLGI take a more holistic approach from a wholesaling perspective. Whatever the client needs is available across the entire journey of the client’s life.”
Adding to the challenge of the competitive product landscape are growing compliance responsibilities facing advisors and their firms, including increased focus on KYP obligations.
As advisors face more scrutiny surrounding their product recommendations, many advisors will be inclined to sell a smaller selection of products, Chilcott says: “I think that will lead to some shelves shrinking.”
Advisors generally are very busy, says Chilcott, and finding ways of engaging them without consuming too much of their time is critical for companies such as SLGI in such a crowded marketplace. “Advisors have a lot of demands on their time,” Chilcott says. “They’re being more selective.”
Chilcott sees an opportunity to modernize wholesaling practices and make the experience more efficient for advisors and wholesalers alike. Although wholesalers must foster relationships with advisors, he says, not every meeting needs to be a lengthy, face-to-face endeavour. In many cases, he says, wholesalers can interact with advisors online, in meetings that may take 15 minutes or less rather than an hour.
“What if I was to offer the capability to meet you on the web, on a site on which I can be more interactive with you?” Chilcott asks. “The meeting might be a bit punchier; a little bit more focused; a little more analytical and focused on your needs.”
Although the technology that enables such online meetings has been available for some time, Chilcott says, he hasn’t seen any players in the industry embrace this approach to innovate in the wholesaling space. He intends to modernize this strategy, and he believes that could help SLGI make inroads with more advisors.
“It’s the way advisors want to do business with us,” he says. “If you’re not considered effective in your interaction, you’re not going to grow [sales] with that distribution partner.”
Chilcott sees opportunities to digitize other elements of the investment distribution business as well. He notes that Sun Life has made major investments in digital technology in its group retirement business. He hopes to bring some of those capabilities over to the retail investment side.
Chilcott’s career has brought him and his family – including his wife and two university-aged children – across Canada. Chilcott was born in Thunder Bay, Ont., and raised in Princeton, B.C. Since then, he has lived in Vancouver, Penticton, B.C., Nelson, B.C., Halifax, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.
Chilcott attributes much of his success to his ambitious attitude. Throughout his career, he has consistently voiced his interest in new opportunities, resulting in many geographical moves and promotions. “I just said yes every time,” he says.
That ambition extends to his personal life as well. One of Chilcott’s hobbies is participating in endurance events, such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, which involve obstacle courses designed to test physical strength, stamina and mental grit.