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Although Canada’s wealth-management industry lags the U.S. in using technology to benefit client relationships, it could begin to catch up soon.Blue Planet Studio/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

U.S. wealth-management technology giant Envestnet Inc. is delving deeper into Canada’s financial advisory industry after striking a couple of key partnership deals north of the border this month.

The company is announcing today that it’s partnering with Toronto-based automated communication and marketing platform AdvisorStream to create a new application that leverages clients’ financial data so that advisors can provide them with personalized, compliance-approved media content that’s relevant to their unique situations.

The application, called Envestnet Connect, which was designed by Apprise Labs LLC of Berwyn, Penn., is expected to add value to advisor-client relationships by combining Envestnet’s unified wealth-management technology and AdvisorStream licensed content from trusted publishers.

“At a time when investors are seeking stronger connections with their advisors, we are harnessing data science to bring the power of all Envestnet technology into one view for clients,” says Bill Crager, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Envestnet.

That was the second major announcement from Envestnet in as many weeks involving Canada’s wealth-management industry, which is increasingly looking to technology to enhance relationships between advisors and their clients.

On May 12, Toronto-based Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. announced it was adding Envestnet’s Enterprise Portal platform to its Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management business, giving its advisors and portfolio managers access to enhanced account-management tools and performance reporting. The unified managed account technology gives advisors a macro view of multiple discretionary accounts.

While some of Canada’s Big Five banks such as Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia use parts of Envestnet’s technology, Canaccord will be among the first in Canada to provide advisors with full access to the Envestnet portal.

“It’s a real signal of just how committed we are to providing our advisors with the latest and best technology that’s out there in certain areas,” says Stuart Raftus, president of Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Canada.

The technology will also help the firm attract and retain top advisors, while benefiting client communication, he says.

“As technology is being introduced into wealth management at a fairly rapid pace, you can’t fall behind.”

Technology is becoming increasingly critical to the investment industry today amid the COVID-19 pandemic as advisors and clients connect digitally, Mr. Raftus notes. The work-from-home trend is expected to continue for months to come.

Canaccord also announced last week that its wealth-management division was hired by Morgan Stanley to run the New York-based investment bank’s new wealth-management business in Canada. Good technology will be critical for that venture.

Canaccord said it will deliver wealth-management solutions and technology, as well as custody and clearing services to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Canada and support a self-directed online investing platform and portfolio management advisory solutions.

Jason Pereira, partner and senior financial consultant at Woodgate Financial Inc., a financial planning firm that’s part of IPC Securities Corp., says Canada’s wealth-management industry lags the U.S. when it comes to technology used to benefit client relationships. He hopes Envestnet’s further foray into Canada will “shake the cages of a lot of the sleepier players who haven’t done jack squat” around new technology.

“This bodes well for the entire ecosystem of the Canadian financial services industry,” says Mr. Pereira, who is also a financial technology expert and host of the Fintech Impact podcast. “This hopefully signifies the beginning of an accelerated pace of innovation within the Canadian system, which will only better serve clients in the long run.”

Mr. Crager says Canaccord’s investment will allow the independent brokerage to provide a more integrated model that will help its advisors provide “differentiated advice” in the Canadian market.

“It’s a step in the advisory model that I think people should pay attention to,” he says, adding that Envestnet is hoping to introduce more of its technology to advisors in Canada in the coming years.

With the AdvisorStream partnership for Envestnet Connect, Mr. Crager says advisors can further personalize that advice and package it using expert content.

“It really takes the network of global information and makes it incredibly personal,” he says.

AdvisorStream has agreements with more than two dozen media outlets including The Globe and Mail, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to provide their articles to advisors who use it as compliant content in their newsletters, in e-mails and on their websites.

AdvisorStream’s platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to generate “consumption profiles” based on a client’s profile, says Kevin Mulhern, CEO and co-founder of AdvisorStream. For example, he says the content for a millennial looking at buying a house and building an investment portfolio will be different than the content for a retired baby boomer.

AdvisorStream provides curated content to about 350 companies, ranging from independent advisors to large financial advisor networks, about 75 per cent of which are in the U.S., with the rest in Canada and Britain.

Mr. Mulhern says Envestnet Connect “raises the bar, with more meaningful advisor/client communications.”