The Domino’s Effect

Last Friday, like millions of Canadians, my family decided to order pizza for dinner and have it delivered to our home. Normally a fairly mundane task, however, this experience was so outstanding I had an epiphany: the wealth management industry is falling desperately behind in its ability to engage with consumers and adapt to changing behaviour and expectations. What can the fast-food industry teach us about delivering financial services and advice to Canadians, you ask? How to engage with customers on their terms and encourage them to participate in the experience.

The online pizza ordering process went something like this: I was able to build my own pizza with a few mouse-clicks, adding toppings in such a way to keep all family members happy, with only myself to blame if the black olives were on the wrong side of the pie. Next, I was able to see that my order was received and being reviewed and when the pizza was actually being made. The dashboard then informed me when it was being placed in the oven and eventually progressing to the quality control stage. Yes, quality control before it actually went into the box! The last stage was being notified when our meal was picked up by the driver and when it would arrive. There was even a selection of games I could play online while waiting, so I wouldn’t have to pace near the front door with my stomach grumbling. After only minutes, I received a pop-up on my screen that the pizza was here and, sure enough, the driver was at our door.

The financial advice industry is charged with having to know its clients and demonstrate it fully understand the products and services it recommends or promotes. In contrast, how well do clients actually know their advisors and what they really do – not just at one moment in time, but over time? When you google “know your advisor”, the first listing displayed is from a regulator that allows potential investors to search advisors’ credentials and whether they’ve been involved in any disciplinary action, or have any unpaid fines. That’s pretty much it and clearly insufficient information for consumers of financial services to be able to make an informed decision about their future and their family’s long-term well-being.

For a relationship with a financial advisor to be truly successful, it needs to be at least as honest, transparent and continuously fluid as my pizza-ordering experience. In other words, real time, on the client’s own terms, where expectations are met with client involvement and, of course, with quality control.

At first, when I ordered my $25 pizza, the only part of the process I really wanted to be involved in was eating it, but by the end of the process, I really enjoyed being engaged in the whole experience. It increased my confidence in the professionals making and delivering it and made every bite all the more delicious.

Geoff Wilkinson is a Regional Vice President with iA Securities. The opinions expressed herein are those of Mr. Wilkinson alone and may not be aligned with the opinions and values of iA Securities or any of its affiliated companies. iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates. Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.