Last week, the wealth management industry’s largest digital wealth management event —In|Vest 2019: Innovations in Investing, Saving & Advice—took place in New York City. The two-day annual conference featured presentations, breakout sessions, and product demos by some of the world’s most innovative wealth management companies.

Here’s a round-up of our favourite wealth management trends from this year’s conference:

Client-centricity remains a top priority but it deserves more than just lip service

The term client-centricity is used a lot in the industry, but which wealth management companies are truly embracing the concept and putting clients at the centre of their business? Although wealth management firms are more aware of the growing importance of client-centricity, their business models are still primarily product-driven as opposed to client-driven.

In addition, many clients still believe that advisors are more interested in their own KPIs rather than their clients’. The industry still has a long way to go before it can truly be considered client-centric but it’s headed in the right direction.

Advisors are on the move–and wealth management firms can’t afford to lose them

Advice should be about more than just assets and product recommendations—it should be an engaging process that’s intrinsically focused on the investors needs, resulting in a customized, holistic solution. However, advisors should not have to do this on their own; they should have access to helpful, user-friendly technology that can augment their services.

With competitors constantly entering the market with new promises to improve the advisor and investor experience, it is no wonder that advisors are moving from wealth management firm to wealth management firm and model to model in an attempt to leverage the best technology to gain a competitive advantage.

As the industry looks to build out a broad-spectrum advice offer—all the way from commoditized advice to white glove, full-service advice—wealth management firms cannot afford to lose their advisors to the competition.

Financial literacy is a huge gap but also an opportunity

Canada is ranked fourth in financial literacy (with 68% of adult Canadians considered financially literate), whereas the US is ranked 14th (with 57% of adult Americans considered financially literate)—only slightly higher than Botswana, a country with an economy that is 1,127% smaller than the US’. (Source: Investment News)

Financial literacy is crucial to help people gain the knowledge and skills necessary to manage money effectively. Low financial literacy rates have real consequences to the economy:

  • 32% of Canadians between 45 and 64 have nothing saved for retirement (Source: BNN Bloomberg)
  • 49% of Canadians don’t have savings for an emergency (Source:

Clients who lack financial literacy don’t understand how wealth management firms and advisors can benefit them and are therefore less likely to seek professional advice.

Increasing financial literacy not only benefits the economy and the investors, it also benefits firms and advisors to increase and retain their clients.

Firms and advisors who provide the most benefit go beyond creating and delivering financial literacy content—they also develop plans, products, and services that clients actually use.

There’s a urgency to determine the best pricing model

With fee compression being a reality in the wealth management space, leaders in the industry are trying to figure out which pricing model is better and for whom. Is it commission-based or fee-based? Perhaps moving to hourly fees or annual retainer fees makes sense. Interestingly, the new kid on the block that got a lot of attention at this year’s conference is the subscription-based fee model.

The jury is still out on which pricing model is the best, and perhaps there is no simple answer. The best pricing model may just depend on the advisor (or robo), the client, and the portfolio at hand.