Upsurge in client expectations challenging Canadian asset and wealth managers: RBC Investor & Treasury Services Poll

TORONTO, Ontario – September 4, 2019 – Increased client expectations is the top challenge facing Canadian asset and wealth managers in the year ahead according to a national pollby RBC Investor & Treasury Services. However, managers expressed growing confidence in their ability to adapt to the changing expectations.

Respondents ranked increased client expectations (15 per cent) as the top challenge, up seven places from last year, while increased regulation moved from first spot in 2018 to second spot (12 per cent) in 2019.

Client First

The increased focus on addressing client expectations coincides with numerous changes in investor behaviour impacting asset and wealth managers, including:

  • More focus on performance-based fees in actively managed funds amid skepticism regarding active funds generating alpha
  • Differing preferences around service delivery for demographic cohorts (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers)
  • Increasing popularity of responsible investments including environmental, social and governance (ESG), corporate engagement and socially responsible investing among individual and institutional investor.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents revealed they are extremely confident in their ability to adapt to the changing business environment compared to 15 per cent a year ago.

The three top strategies used by managers to address the challenges include improving efficiency (17 per cent), attracting new clients (16 per cent) and leveraging technology (15 per cent).

Leveraging Technology and Data

Technology investment remains a top priority for managers year-over-year. Process automation and managing client relationships are in the top two positions at 23 per cent each, while data analytics has improved year-over-year to 15 per cent this year compared to 11 per cent in 2018. 

All three choices present potential opportunities to generate efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve client experience.

Managers still agree that data helps make better informed investments decisions. Furthermore, they also believe data has provided two new benefits this year: an increase back-office efficiency (24 per cent), and helping to develop a more informed distribution strategy (12 per cent).


  • Broadening their investor base is the top strategy by managers to grow their business over the next year (23 per cent)
  • Despite fewer respondents saying the quality and accuracy of data is the largest challenge when facing managing data, down from 36 per cent in 2018 to 20 per cent in 2019, it still remains the top spot with cost moving into second place at 16 per cent.
  • ETFs remain the favoured product to introduce (21 per cent in 2018 vs. 17 per cent in 2019) while liquid alternatives, at 16 per cent, has overtaken private debt for second spot, which sits as 15 per cent.
  • Sixty-three per cent of respondents say socially responsible investing (SRI) is important to their investment strategy.
  • Managers continue to value service as the most important factor in the client-manager relationship (29 per cent).


“The global asset and wealth management sectors are experiencing a number of significant shifts as the business environment continues to evolve, and our survey shows that Canadian managers are not exempt from this reality. Managers must strive to be flexible and responsive to their clients’ evolving needs which means providing and leveraging technology, products and solutions in new and innovative ways to meet increased investor expectations.

-David Linds, Managing Director and Head of Asset Servicing Canada, RBC Investor & Treasury Services

About the RBC Investor & Treasury Services Canadian Asset Manager Poll

RBC Investor & Treasury Services conducted an online poll of Canadian asset managers in the second quarter of 2019. The results represent the aggregate responses from 89 managers across Canada.

RBC Investor & Treasury Services (RBC I&TS) is a specialist provider of asset services, custody, payments and treasury and market services for financial and other institutional investors worldwide, with over 4,500 employees in 17 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. We deliver services which safeguard client assets, underpinned by client-centric digital solutions which continue to be enhanced and evolved in line with our clients’ changing needs. Trusted with CAD 4.2 trillion in client assets under administration, RBC I&TS has been rated by our clients as the #1 global custodian for eight consecutive years and is a financially strong partner with among the highest credit ratings globally.

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For more information, please contact:
Briana D’Archi 
+1 416 955 5658