Providing the engine to drive a practice

How Fidelity Clearing Canada has been heavily investing in tools and capabilities to better help advisors run their businesses

Providing the engine to drive a practice

Unless you are an electrician, you probably don’t need to know the inner working of how a light gets turned on, you just want to be able to flip the switch and have light. For advisors, that background utility is their back office that includes clearing and settlement custody, trading, banking and treasury, client onboarding, tax reporting and compliance. It is the engine that helps an advisor run a successful practice and something Fidelity Clearing Canada (FCC) has become a leader in.

“There is so much complexity in the background that is required,” explains Scott MacKenzie, president, FCC. “Most happens without advisors or clients even knowing. Advisors want to focus on supporting the client’s investment decisions and providing better outcomes for those clients. We are the agency behind the scenes that does the heavy lifting to support the advisor’s business.”

Fidelity has invested heavily in their clearing capabilities over the last four years. For MacKenzie, it is an area that is of utmost importance for advisors because even small mistakes or carelessness can have dire consequences. Part of that investment has been beneficial in the current environment as more of the industry looks to digitize. “In this environment what differentiates us is the technology stack. The platform solutions we deliver and our integration capabilities. The acceleration of digital and importance for advisors and their support teams to work outside the branch or head office is rising. With continuous feedback from our clients and an agile operating structure we delivered our uniFide platform as a one-stop-shop for advisor tools, client information, and our brokerage services.”

That innovation is something Fidelity is proud to have brought to the Canadian market and believe it could not have come at a better time. “Some of it is the moment, but the trend has been going on for years. Technology adoption has been lagging in financial services, but we felt the need to create a user experience similar to what people now expect as a consumer – real time, highly integrated, and more intuitive. ‘Why can’t the bank be like Uber or Airbnb?’, that is what we are hearing, not just from Millennials but Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. They are all getting comfortable with technology because it is everywhere.”

One of the tools that MacKenzie thinks is a real differentiator is Fidelity’s Alerts function within uniFide. “It is a dashboard that notifies advisors about what is happening in their business – cash deposits, transfers, documents close to expiry, and the alerts dashboard delivers that to them in intuitive prompts. They don’t have to run and sort reports and figure what needs to be done. It gives them real time, critical information they can use to manage their business more effectively.”

In addition to the feature, MacKenzie says that they are also introducing more innovation in transaction automation and their investor-facing solution. “We had a basic investor portal offering that wasn’t up to speed, but now we have upgraded. This new platform went live last month and offers a far more flexible and intuitive experience for advisors and investors. Like all technology, it is not one and done. Our clients gave us great feedback to get our first release to market and we are already prototyping enhancements and new capabilities, like investor collaboration and personalization, for release next year.”

One of the ways Fidelity can bring these innovations to the market is because of their standing as a global company. They are already the largest provider of these types of services in the US so there is a lot of preexisting experience they can draw on and bring to the Canadian market. “FCC leverages Fidelity’s proprietary purpose-built financial services workflow solution. We leverage the designs, which are operational and behind the scenes, but they are the engines we use to deliver the capabilities. They are on the back of our global scale, so we don’t have to build them from scratch in Canada.”

For advisors who are looking for a complete back office solution, MacKenzie says there are a few reasons why FCC should stand out. “First, Fidelity is a global organization and firms working with us are working with the largest provider of services like this. It’s a firm with experience with tens of millions of investors and trillions of dollars in AUM worldwide. That expertise is unmatched, certainly in Canada and on the global scale, it is hard to compete with. Second, we are a privately-owned company, which is something that is unique as many financial services providers in Canada are publicly traded companies with multiple business lines. This gives us the ability to look further down the road, we can think in longer time frames. The third is Fidelity’s commitment to innovate. This is a company that is on the cutting edge of innovation. We have it in our DNA and is supported by the private company mindset and enhanced by our global perspective.”