How one dealer is maintaining their independent outlook, one year after being acquired by Desjardins

CEO highlights the advantages new ownership provides, while outlining how his firm has maintained their independence under a new corporate umbrella

How one dealer is maintaining their independent outlook, one year after being acquired by Desjardins

It’s been almost one full year since Desjardins completed its $750 million acquisition of Worldsource Wealth Management and its three subsidiary arms: Worldsource Financial Management, Worldsource Securities, and IDC Worldsource Insurance Network. In the year since that takeover, Worldsource has been in transition mode, bringing its advisors and operations in line with a new overarching structure. Despite the hard work of that transition, Doce Tomic — chairman and CEO of Worldsource Wealth Management — says that his firm has had a strong year of business and have laid the foundation for a solid future.

Tomic outlined exactly what kind of work his firm has undertaken to manage their transition under Desjardins. He highlighted some of the advantages and scale that come with a company of Desjardins’ size. He explained, as well, how he and his firm have worked to maintain a high degree of their own independence despite the larger corporate umbrella.

“When you have a corporation with close to 60,000 employees, vast expertise, and the desire to really align and grow in the independent space outside of Quebec, you get a lot that you couldn’t do on your own before,” Tomic says. “You have the added benefit of knowing that this organization is stable, extremely well capitalized, and striving to grow their business, which has resonated with our advisors. Also, from a cultural perspective Desjardins are committed to allowing a level of independence that other organizations might not. They are here to support the growth of investment advisors as entrepreneurs in their own right.”

Tomic notes that before the deal closed, he and his team had regular discussions with Desjardins to ensure that there was philosophical alignment on independence. He notes that Desjardins had already identified the independent space as an area of growth for them outside of Quebec. They want to bring in firms that have their own brand, independent operations, and independent leadership.

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In Worldsource, Tomic says, Desjardins found a dealer with a model similar to the US Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Worldsource advisors retain sole alignment with the interests of their clients. While Tomic does report to an individual at Desjardins corporate every two weeks, Worldsource maintains their own legal resources, HR, marketing, communications, and technology teams to ensure as much independent operation as possible. Keeping those functions in-house allows Worldsource to operate with greater agility while still retaining a connection to the scale of Desjardins.

Tomic believes that his firm can create capacity for advisors across four areas: asset management, workflow & administration, client service, and compliance. The compliance and regulatory burden, he says, is a fact of the industry. Nevertheless, he is striving to make that burden somewhat easier to bear by streamlining processes with advisors and taking on more of the oversight responsibilities as a dealer. That work includes building automations for KYC and KYP work, as well as their current work creating a hybrid platform as MFDA and IIROC advisors come under the umbrella of CIRO. This work requires a significant investment in technology, but Tomic believes it should help power his firm to the next stage of growth.

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After a year spent planning and laying foundations under new corporate ownership, Tomic is excited for what Worldsource has planned for the future. That begins with executing on the key projects and priorities identified in their transition process. They plan to implement model portfolios for IIROC and MDFA advisors this year. They’re working on automated onboarding for those MFDA advisors as well. They’re adding planning tools and a data warehouse to provide quick access to client information as well. Tomic describes these practice management improvements as the engine behind the execution of their goals. With that engine now running, he sees new strategic moves ahead as well.

“We’re in the process of updating our strategy as a result of the changes from the regulators,” Tomic says. “We are determining what the speed of change will be there, whether our changes meet all our needs, and what feedback we’ll receive from advisors around pain points and ensuring we’re the right voice for them. That is a very important plan for us in the future, especially from an independent lens of how our advisors can manage their business and ensure they’re at a level playing field vis-à-vis other large organizations.”