Notes from the North: Advicent Innovation Summit Toronto takeaways

September 6, 2016 by Andrew King

About the author:

Andrew King

Team lead, solutions consultant

Andrew has extensive experience in agile software development, He works with technical and business stakeholders to develop requirements for improvements to Advicent products and business processes. He also helps match technology solutions with business challenges. His professional interest are in international business development and product positioning strategy.

On August 25, Advicent held its fourth Innovation Summit focused on digital advice delivery and advisor best practices for the Canadian market. I would like to share a few of my observations at the Advicent Innovation Summit Toronto from discussions with the largest financial institutions in Canada, presentations from industry experts like Tony Maiorino of RBC and Jay Mooreland of The Emotional Investor, and a thought leadership panel.

3 key takeaways from the Advicent Innovation Summit Toronto

1. Progress over performance

A big theme that emerged from the Summit is the need for investors to start focusing on progress towards a plan the same way they have traditionally thought about the performance of their portfolio. While the quarterly performance of an investment account is something clients rightly should follow, it is almost universally done today without any consideration for what it means to their ability to achieve whatever they are investing for in the first place. This requires a significant change in practice for investment professionals, as well as the technology they use to advise clients, to make planning something they do for every client on a continual basis.

2. Do not fear the robots

Advisors must view new digital offerings like robo-advice as an opportunity to cultivate their bedside manner. Just like WebMD did not diminish the value of a human diagnosis and recommendation in the delivery of medical advice, the automation of portfolio allocation and account opening does not diminish the value of an advisor who can empathize with the biases, fears, and hopes of a client.

3. The compliance struggle is real

Evolution of advice delivery was the topic of a thought leadership panel discussion that featured representation from Advicent, Sun Life FinancialRedtail Technology, and Croesus. Compliance challenges were a major focus of their discussion. With increasing consumer concerns of data security and regulations (CRM2) that put the onus of transparency on the advisor, FIs need trusted partners – not mere technology vendors – who can help them think through the complexities of operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.

My ultimate takeaway is that Toronto is extremely well-positioned to rival any city as a FinTech hub. The combination of healthy and forward-looking financial institutions, finance and technology both centered in the Greater Toronto Area, and a huge unmet consumer demand for digital advice make Toronto a city for the FinTech industry to watch.