iAPW shares plans, details of brokerage acquisition from Laurentian Bank

Senior Vice President at iA Private Wealth explains what the acquisition means for the 30 advisors being brought onboard, the 800+ advisors at iAPW, and the wider industry

iAPW shares plans, details of brokerage acquisition from Laurentian Bank

iA has made its first major acquisition since it bought Holliswealth from Scotia in 2017. After growing through organic asset gathering and individual team or practice onboarding, iA announced earlier this month that it would be acquiring the assets of Laurentian Bank Securities Inc. the full-service investment broker division of Laurentian Bank. The acquisition brings roughly $2 billion in assets and 16,000 client accounts over to iA Private Wealth (iAPW). It also brings 30 Laurentian Bank advisors over to iAPW, meaning they will switch from a corporate model to an independent model.

Adam Elliott, Senior Vice President at iA Private Wealth, has been one of the key leaders managing the completion of this acquisition and the transition of these advisors over to iAPW. He spoke with WP about why they decided to move ahead with this acquisition, what it means for the Laurentian advisors, and how iAPW plans to integrate 30 bank advisors into their independent business model.

“Our goal is for the transition to be as seamless as possible,” Elliott says. “From an operational perspective it will very much be business as usual. Other than seeing a change in the name of their dealer, the clients won’t experience any major transition…The learning curve, if there is one, is that these advisors are going from a corporate model to an independent model.”

Elliott says that when Laurentian Bank was put up for sale last year, iA entered into talks to purchase the assets of Laurentian Bank Securities. Initially, Laurentian wanted to sell the entire bank, but in time they conversation about this specific asset sale was hammered out.

He says that iA had three core reasons driving their interest in Laurentian. First was their existing presence in Quebec. With headquarters in Quebec City, Elliott says iAPW was confident that the Quebec-based Laurentian advisors would know their platform. The second reason was that, having already invested in their tech platform, iAPW has become much more comfortable taking on smaller firms and giving them added benefits from their scale. Finally, there were already strong relationships between many of the Laurentian advisors and existing iAPW advisors in Quebec, which has often been an entry point to expansion for iAPW in the past.

No matter how many connections or familiarities existed before the transition, Elliott accepts that onboarding the 30 Laurentian advisors will take some work. The iA management team in Quebec is already working with these advisors and next week the whole iA Private Wealth management team will be going on a ‘road show,’ meeting with these advisors to outline exactly what they’ll need to learn. From there it’s a matter of working with each advisor, helping to set them up in a new office and master iA’s tech systems.

Because the acquisition was a purchase of assets, and not a purchase of the whole Laurentian Bank Securities unit, only the advisors, their clients, and their assets under management will be coming over to iAPW. Laurentian’s tech stack will be staying where it was. Elliott says that while the move represents a learning curve for the Laurentian advisors, they are happy to be working with iAPW’s technology. The tech stack that iAPW has built should offer the Laurentian advisors greater capacity, while the AUM and client base they bring will help iAPW grow in scale.

Beyond operational capacity and technology, there is also a question of cultural integration. The 30 Laurentian advisors being brought onboard are joining a team of over 800 advisors across Canada. Elliott cites various awards and surveys that have recognized iAPW’s culture in the past, but acknowledges there will be some changes for the new advisors that he and his team will have to manage. A team of 30, for instance, would have very close relationships with each other and with their management. Creating a similar sense of proximity in a much larger organization can be a challenge but Elliott says that iAPW prides itself on an accessible leadership team.

The other cultural shift, Elliott says, will come as these advisors shift to being business owners, not employees. While the onboarding process has just begun, Elliott says that the majority of the Laurentian advisors are embracing that new opportunity. It comes with questions about rents, lead generation, and hardware sourcing, but those are questions that Elliott and his team are on hand to answer.

“I would also say that there is a benefit to being a part of a winning team, a team that is growing a company that's growing,” Elliott says. “We've had some advisors say that is going to be really nice coming here joining a team that's growing.”