Canadian wealth managers jockey to recruit advisers

Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:24pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - An aging workforce and looming regulatory change are driving stiff competition between Canada's top wealth managers to recruit new advisers, a costly and arduous process that makes finding the right fit crucial for both sides.

With the average age of advisers at full-service investment companies nearing 50 and compliance demands rising, top-tier firms say the next few years may bring the stiffest competition yet as advisers and employers jockey to find a permanent match.

"There are a lot of things going on in the industry over the next few years, and that's spurring a lot of advisers to think about where they're practicing, and ask, 'Is it the right place for them for the long term?'" said George Garner, head of national sales at Manulife Securities.

As Canadian regulators demand more in transparency and compliance with what is known as a Client Relationship Model, advisers are facing more arduous documentation requirements, from client suitability surveys to performance reporting and cost and compensation explanations.

For some, the looming regulatory increase may mean it is time to jump from a small independent wealth manager, or a firm that isn't technologically savvy, to one that is ahead of the curve and ready to help them with the hard lifting so they can focus on the client, not the paperwork.

"Clients are looking for advisers whom they can trust, because the equation is no longer 'Which fund to pick?' It is 'What is the path forward, how can you meet the goals for my family?'" said Dave Kelly, president of TD Wealth Private Investment Advice. "You need a lot of tools to be successful in this environment."

The scale and strength of their front- and back-office systems to meet both the compliance needs and the demands of customers are being trumpeted by TD Wealth, Manulife, and BMO Nesbitt Burns as they seek to recruit the best advisers to their full-service shops, which target high-net-worth clients.

"The fact that large firms like ours have the scale to invest in the technology to provide the oversight, from a compliance standpoint, is one of the things advisers are definitely seeking out there," said Mike Malloy, senior vice president and managing director at BMO Nesbitt Burns.   Continued...

Buildings are seen in the financial district in Toronto, January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch