Concept of company intercommunication

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

Marketing support and business coaching are increasingly important to branch-based financial advisors and planners with Canada’s Big Six banks, according to Investment Executive’s 2022 Report Card on Banks. But the institutions are falling short in delivering that support.

The importance rating for the “business development support” category was 8.6, up from 8.2 a year ago. And the banks collectively earned an average performance rating of 7.9 for their business support, up from 7.5.

The year-over-year rise of 0.4 in both results means the institutions haven’t narrowed the satisfaction gap (the difference between a category’s importance and performance ratings) for the category. Still, banks seem to have been listening based on their improved average performance in providing tools to help advisors fine-tune their skills and practices.

CIBC, where advisors work for CIBC Imperial Service, was rated highest of the six banks for its business development tools (9.2, up from 9.0 in 2021). This year’s increase builds on significant improvement (of 0.5 or more) in CIBC’s rating a year ago — and was partly tied to the bank’s rebranding initiative in fall 2021.

“[The] new logo helped us a lot,” said a CIBC advisor in British Columbia, referring to the bank’s new look — its first such makeover in nearly 20 years.

A CIBC advisor in Ontario said one of the best aspects of the bank was “the overall support advisors get from the firm; I think it’s a pillar.” They added that “a lot of effort” is put into ongoing training, an area for which CIBC was rated second-highest across all the banks, at 8.7 (although that was down significantly from 9.5 in 2021).

CIBC’s support for advisor development included the creation in early spring of a group, referred to as a national office, which focuses on sales support and business effectiveness, said Peter Lee, executive vice-president, banking centres.

“Whether you’re senior or just three years in, you’re going to have training that’s tuned to help you better deal with clients and be more efficient,” Lee said, noting that new recruits in particular rotate through various banking centres.

Meanwhile, the banks that saw significant year-over-year improvement in their business development support ratings were Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS). BMO was rated 8.0, up almost two full points from 6.1 a year ago, while BNS was rated 7.7 this year, up from 7.2.

Advisors with BMO praised their online training, weekly meetings and reports. One of the bank’s planners, in B.C. , said, “I love the marketing [support]. There’s more time and energy spent here.”

Indeed, BMO executives said in an email that they’re improving the bank’s practice-management program and coaching. Those improvements include offering more marketing tools, “revamping” training for new hires, and more regular advisor business coaching.

Regarding BNS’s business support, one advisor in Ontario said, “We are catching up. I just got an email saying we need to update our pictures [from] a professional photographer.”

A BNS advisor in Alberta said they appreciate help in identifying inefficiencies: “Recently, I had a coach that was actually going into the things that I need to fix, and I thought this was valuable.”

Reflecting on what more the bank could do, another BNS advisor in Alberta said, “I want to see them work with everybody within the branches, just to make sure everyone is working on their career development.”

BNS executives explained in an email that Scotia Academy (the bank’s virtual learning tool) is used to provide branch advisor education. Additionally, the bank offers business workshops and direct coaching from managers and specialists.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) had the poorest rating among the banks for its business development support in 2022, down from its mid-level standing a year ago. Its result this year was 7.0, down from 7.4.

“They could have more targeted training around business development,” said a TD advisor in Ontario.

While some of the TD respondents said a client referral network exists alongside professional development planning for individuals, others suggested that resources have been scant in the past year.

Another TD advisor in Ontario said, “If the support isn’t present because of cutbacks, then business development can’t be efficient.”

David Terry, vice-president and head of TD Wealth Financial Planning, said that support options for branch-based planners looking to grow their practices include the bank’s centre for social media networking support, a marketing support team and a wealth-planning support team.

To also help TD advisors get the word out about their practices, Terry said the bank has produced videos in which financial planners’ clients endorse their advisors — something that should help planners explain their value.

Still, what’s most crucial for advisors at all stages is ongoing communication on how best to develop their businesses. With that in place, said one TD advisor in Ontario, “you don’t feel like you’re on your own island.”