RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) conducted a study to understand the evolution of advice in Canada.
  • The study involved a series of executive interviews, a survey with industry participants and a roundtable with chief compliance and risk officers.
  • It explored changing investor needs and expectations, introducing new business models in Canada and the relationship between IIROC and dealers.
  • Five key themes resulted from the study that depict the key drivers of transformation across the wealth management industry.


Accenture and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) recently delved into advice evolution in Canada, identifying the biggest impacts to the industry.

Via a series of interviews, a survey, and a compliance roundtable with IIROC-regulated dealers and other industry participants, we explored four topics:

  • How investor needs and expectations are changing
  • How firms are responding to those changes
  • The challenges firms face when introducing new business models in Canada, including costs related to regulation
  • Opportunities to foster a more engaged and bilateral relationship between IIROC and Dealers
"We believe this research will assist the Canadian wealth industry to innovate at a faster pace and reduce unnecessary cost burden while continuing to provide protection and access for investors of all ages."

– KENDRA THOMPSON, Accenture

Five key wealth management themes emerge

We identified five key themes that sum up the major changes occurring in financial advice in Canada:

  1. Investors are changing. Social and cultural movements correcting the gender power imbalance, combined with changing Canadian demographics, have led to the emergence of two new and powerful investor segments—women and millennials—both seeking a different style of relationship with their wealth management firm. From greater transparency and control to wealth management based on life scenarios, changing demographics are causing seismic shifts in how advice is offered.
  2. The industry is transforming in response. In response to changing investor views on advice and service, the industry is starting to shift from a product-led business to one that focuses on holistic advice, financial planning and related services. This relationship-oriented model could enable a more holistic experience that supports an investor’s (or family’s) financial goals and objectives—and ideally, their lifestyle—in which investment portfolios are now only one piece of the puzzle.
  3. Emerging digital business models and tools. New business models—many of which include a mix of human and robo advice—are the way forward. Some firms are introducing new tools and services to support budgeting, lifestyle management and career planning to help clients manage their financial well-being.
  4. Innovation headwinds in Canada. Headwinds abound, from fragmented and duplicative regulatory ecosystems, to legacy technology issues. The interviewees were vocal about the delays caused by these headwinds, but they appear to be forging ahead—albeit at a slower pace.
  5. Opportunities to enhance engagement. Dealers are trying to strike a delicate balance between fostering innovation and working collaboratively with regulators.
"How can we work collectively with regulators on what we are trying to solve, instead of trying to interpret where the goal posts are?"

– DEALER PARTICIPANT

Looking ahead

A red thread ran through all the interviews: A changing landscape requires a changing client experience and approach from:

  • Siloed to hybrid
  • Fee-based to advice-based
  • In person to omni-channel
  • Complex to simplified
  • Boilerplate to tailored
  • Account to relationship

We see leaders in Canada’s financial advice sector working on pieces of this puzzle, but it’s rare that a firm is moving forward on all counts. It is a massive undertaking, requiring a strong ecosystem of partners and advisors—from technology to strategy. But, most firms are becoming far more proficient at putting the client at the center of every interaction. It’s that mindset that will carry them into the New and spell continued viability.

"We are committed to facilitating innovation and accommodating new advice and service offerings to better serve the needs and wants of Canadians, without compromising investor protection or choice."

– ANDREW KRIEGLER, IIROC

Kendra Thompson

Managing Director – Capital Markets, Wealth Management Lead, North America


Kathy Engle

Vice President – Strategic Initiatives, Canada, IIROC


Marsha Gerhart

Vice President – Regulation Policy, Canada, IIROC

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