Do ‘bank’ advisors hold the upper hand?

Hold your fire -- one industry expert says there's one lingering advantage for him and other advisors operating under big bank names.

What? It’s a highly debatable suggestion, to say the least, but do bank-affiliated advisors have the upperhand in selling clients on the benefits of private capital markets?

“In terms of instilling confidence in clients about venturing into private capital markets, we might be somewhat advantaged because there is a comfort and a confidence built into that big bank name for clients,” said Adam Doering, co-founder of The Waterfront Group, CIBC Wood Gundy. “That confidence is in addition to the confidence clients have in our personal brand.”

That runs counter to the personal experience of many advisors working for the independents and making headway in building client interest in private capital markets and other newer opportunities.

"I’m not sure if it’s delusional thinking or hubris on the part of bank advisors,” said Glenn Szlagowski, a veteran advisor with Assante Financial Management Ltd.  “It’s the personal relationships that exist between advisor and client that are key here. Sometimes the bank struggle to create those kinds of relationships."

Many advisors -- regardless of their dealer affiliation -- point to minimal client appetite for investments in the alternative space. Like Doering, they point to client perceptions around undo risk and limited disclosure in that sphere as hurdles to overcome in the fight to better diversify client portfolios.

The idea that bank advisors, with a century-old institution behind them, have the upper hand, is simply inaccurate, said Szlagowski.“