Changing customer preferences are also playing a role. Half a decade ago, the rise of the robo-advisor was seen as a potential threat to the financial advice industry. But as investors and clients become more comfortable interacting with technology, advisors can now leverage digital solutions in their own practices to provide services at scale without necessarily sacrificing personalization.
“If you have at least $250 million in assets under management today, you have the scale to do it on your own,” Nugent says. “The cost of custody in the industry has come down, and there are a lot of low-code and no-code tools now available for advisors to take advantage of. So companies like ours are able to build that infrastructure for advisors into one solution. are, and they don’t need large support teams to the extent that they used to.
For many advisors, the idea of striking out has become more appealing than ever. While most experienced advisors may be comfortable with a compensation grid system, Nugent points out that the system relies on a very standardized business model. The push towards standardization has only increased among large firms as regulatory pressure continues to mount.
As Canadian securities regulators raise expectation levels with the implementation of new customer-focused reforms, this creates an additional incentive for institutions to implement restrictive compliance and operating policies, all in the name of compliance costs. Working within that kind of system can seriously inhibit the development of a practice, as each consultant runs a slightly different business based on their expertise and the book of clients they maintain.
“Just as clients are looking for a more personalized approach, consultants are looking for a more personalized approach to their business,” Nugent says. “We believe that they should have control over what they offer within their practice, and have the ability to offer different services, so to speak.”