What Canadian Wealth Management firms can learn from Expedia & Planes, Trains & Automobiles

One of my favorite all time movies is the 1987 blockbuster Trains Planes & Automobiles. A classic buddy movie starring the late great John Candy and Steve Martin. John played the loveable and likeable Del Griffith, Director of Sales, American Light & Fixture, Shower Curtain Ring Division and the spoiler to Steve Martin’s character Neil Page, an uptight marketing executive. So, last weekend I found myself taking in this classic once again and as I watched these characters struggle to get home for Thanksgiving using multiple transportation and purchasing mediums, their laugh out loud journey reminded me of another wild journey I’ve been following.

Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to meet with and learn from some of the most dedicated, engaged wealth professionals in Canada to discuss the challenges facing their industry. What I learned from the executive teams was consistent and leading topics ranged from: increased cost of compliance, downward pressure on fees, greater consumer demand for digital engagement, and advisor demands to work digitally with customers. I also heard repeatedly about the frustrations brought about by the disconnect between front, mid and back office communications.

Underpinning these conversations was a common thread around how risk & suitability conversations advisors have with their clients, is often disconnected from the registrants’ supervision regulatory requirements. A further look at the functional roles of compliance and oversight in large integrated bank owned dealers and medium independent wealth firms, revealed that their surveillance programs are not scalable. The data required to scale a program is siloed in multiple applications creating a disconnected experience.

So, what does this have to do with Expedia and a classic comedy from 1987? The experiences John Candy and Steve Martin had in attempting to book travel and communicate with their loved ones was completely disconnected from each other. If you saw the film, you will recall each leg of their journey home required a manual set of activities ranging from booking hotel rooms, to purchasing train, bus, and plane tickets.

Fast forward to 1996 and online travel companies like Expedia have completely changed the client experience. A once broken set of activities are now connected. We now take for granted the ability to book trains, planes & automobiles seamlessly.

Would the characters have gotten home sooner with Expedia? We’ll never know. What we can say with some certainty, is that having their travel and accommodation booked in a single connected experience, would have been much less stressful and likely less entertaining for all of us. And I doubt Del Griffiths would have had to rely on his credit card from Chalmers Big and Tall Men’s Shop, a seven-outlet chain in the Pacific Northwest.

From my observations, wealth management firms in Canada have varying degrees of their own Trains, Planes & Automobile client experience each and every day.

This disconnected experience is the reason our team at Four Eyes launched its compliance management platform Risk7. Working in partnership with a number of wealth management firms we have begun the journey to go beyond the blotter and create an integrated & connected compliance experience. One that builds capacity and improves advisor experiences.

What a connected “experience” looks like:

–       Visual dashboards that clearly outline risk at the advisor, branch, region and firm level

–       A shift from transaction reporting to true exception alert monitoring

–       Automated alert resolution

–       Integration of machine learning to enhance and automate clearing

–       Ability to view all client accounts and aggregation at the portfolio level

–       Integration of the 3rd party data sets that enrich the analytics

–       Communication channels that allow compliance teams to interact with advisors & branches in a seamless way

–       Integrating new workflows, moving a firm away from siloed disconnected solutions

–       Advisor tools to perform pre-trade risk analysis & applications to communicate with customers and seamlessly show their work

I would offer that the technology is available today to allow firms to build a more seamless integrated “Expedia” like client experience. One where client risk conversations easily flow between the advisor to “head office” and connect to other core data sets that compliance teams use to conduct their registrant requirements.

If you haven’t seen the movie or need a good distraction from the changing world we live in, I highly recommend streaming this comedy classic. This is just the beginning of our journey and we welcome the opportunity to learn more about your Trains, Planes & Automobiles moments!