Is Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) the Future of Financial Advising?

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)

Table of Contents

A study by Cerulli Associates found that over 50% of financial advisors now work with other advisors as part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT). Not only that, but the specialized multidisciplinary teams that manage client assets exceeding $500 million are responsible for controlling almost two-thirds of all managed assets. This appetite for multidisciplinary collaboration mirrors demand surging across healthcare, education, and countless professions reckoning unprecedented complexity. Could financial advising be next to embrace multidisciplinary team models as the way of the future?

Over two decades coaching top multidisciplinary wealth management teams at Desjardins, I’ve witnessed firsthand the immense value multidisciplinary teams unlock through compounding expertise. What exactly is driving this structural shift and how can solo advisors actively participate? In this article, I’ll share my insights on the macro trends and MDT implementation tactics.


  • Financial advising is rapidly transitioning from generalized solo models to specialized, collaborative multidisciplinary teams to meet escalating investor expectations
  • Key forces driving this transformation include demand for personalized and digitally integrated holistic planning, competitive pressures and technology innovations
  • Traditional single advisor approaches face limitations stretching expertise across modern planning complexity and lack customization bandwidth
  • Integrating subject matter experts across investments, insurance, banking and tax under one roof breaks down silos to spot interconnected opportunities
  • Formalized teams gain meaningful expertise through ongoing peer dialogue, improving diversity and continuity planning
  • Implementing a multidisciplinary team involves auditing capabilities, integrating trusted specialists, designating a senior coordination advisor and unifying technology systems
  • Multidisciplinary teams provide customized wealth management by seamlessly bridging financial disciplines to match investor life complexity
  • The multidisciplinary model (MDT) enhances client experiences through goal alignment, relationships and convenience gaining across milestones
  • Consolidated multidisciplinary teams lead in developing inventive solutions. They gain a competitive advantage by fostering an environment of innovation through the cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Navigating change obligates managing varied perspectives, privacy considerations and leadership structures to realize integration’s immense potential
Factor Solo Advisors Multidisciplinary Teams
Expertise Generalized knowledge trying to stretch across planning areas like investments, insurance, accounting and tax Deep specialized expertise with subject matter experts across investments, insurance, banking, legal, accounting etc. who regularly cross-train
Bandwidth Spread extremely thin trying to serve all client needs alone resulting in shallow support or advisor burnout Collaboratively divide workload across specialists with capacity to provide detailed personalized guidance
Perspective Single isolated lens often lacking fuller context across interlinked financial life complexities Regular communal training on shared client cases builds empathy and appreciation across specialties compounding insights, wisdom and innovation
Customization Constrained flexibility to tailor recommendations with models poorly matching interconnected financial realities Fluidly align interdependent objectives into integrated 360 degree game plans accounting for entire financial life complexity
Technology At high risk of being partially or fully displaced by automation that can replicate generalist capabilities Uniquely leverage tools to augment specialized contributions, creativity and emotional intelligence rather than replace advisors
Relationships Risk transactional, disjointed engagement when advisor availability is split across many clients Deliver continuous guidance and convenience through major financial milestones with smaller books enabling intimate partnering
Client Satisfaction Lower satisfaction marks for hollow, disjointed experiences from advisor spreading self thin Much greater trust, loyalty and delight in cohesive, aligned process from collaborators intimately familiar with total financial picture
Growth Trajectory Very limited sustaining deep expertise across innovations emerging across multiple planning spectrums simultaneously Specialized teams better positioned for continuous expertise enhancements staying ahead of industry change
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The Changing Face of Financial Advising Industry

“The financial advisor I want provides complete planning matching the complexity of my financial life rather than segmented bits addressing isolated areas.” This common refrain echoes loudly as investors seek guidance aligning interlinked objectives from wealth transfer to tax efficiency, risk mitigation to legacy planning. Can solo generalists stretch across enough specialties to deliver actual customization?

Momentous industry shifts suggest otherwise. Between disintermediation threats and escalating client pressures for comprehensive digital support, traditional financial advisors spread thin risk irrelevance.

Multidisciplinary financial team statistics by McKinsey

Multidisciplinary teams are larger and more productive than sole financial advisors. Source: PriceMetrix by McKinsey

Trends transforming the financial advising industry

As I reflect on over two decades as a financial services leader coaching high-achieving teams, some distinct forces reshaping the advisory landscape come to mind. Recently while recording the Desjardins Discovery Series: Unplugged Podcast with Chris Burton, a financial security advisor, we unpacked several macro shifts financial advisors must get ahead of.

Central is the push towards specialized, technologically-integrated, and highly collaborative financial planning models. The days of generalist solo financial advisors using siloed approaches are fading. As Chris highlighted, rising client expectations for personalized, comprehensive advice necessitate change. Fintech innovations also allow more streamlined coordination across areas like insurance, investments, and tax.

This resonates with my own pivot years back from an individual insurance advisor to influencing multidisciplinary advisory teams. Single-handedly servicing high-net-worth clients with complex interlinked needs was an immense challenge! Segmenting expertise across subject matter specialists who collaborate intimately proved far more effective. Developing intentional client experiences linking both human relationships and digital convenience grew our top and bottom community of advisors.

The success of Chris’ financial advisor practice further reinforces this. By assembling in-house accountants, mortgage brokers, and other players under one roof, he provides customized 360 support. Clients enjoy simplicity while specialists hand off seamlessly. As financial advising continues rapidly evolving, the writing is clearly on the wall – integrated and relationship-based multidisciplinary teams represent the future.

The most forward-looking financial advisory leaders are taking notes. They realize today’s investors seek financial advisors who move beyond old-school product selling into fully integrated financial planning. This means not only using technology to enhance efficiency but also curating multidisciplinary teams with diverse skills who maintain trust-based partnerships. The financial advisors evolving their business models to enable comprehensive service and advice while still providing personal attention will lead the financial industry into the 21st century.

Increased demand for comprehensive and holistic financial planning

The multidisciplinary team model I champion gains immense power when strategically combined with comprehensive financial life management. Allow me to elaborate based on my experiences advising high-net-worth clients.

At the beginning of my career, I vividly recall a high-net-worth couple who initially came through my insurance network seeking estate solutions. As our rapport strengthened through multiple meetings, they began asking for coordination across their complex investment portfolio, business entities, and tax planning needs. While possessing subject matter strengths in certain areas, I lacked integrated mastery covering all bases. The solo advisor approach failed them.

This couple’s frustration crystallized why financial advising must transition from narrow to holistic financial planning. High net-worth individuals’ interlinked financial lives require broad yet hyper-specialized competencies simultaneously. Furthermore, even beyond complex money management, they expect guidance aligning wealth to values and life goals.

By having a multidisciplinary team under one roof around the client’s complete financial picture, expectations can be exceeded no matter the wealth level. Even smaller nest eggs gain substantial benefit from comprehensive alignment.

In my opinion, specialized multidisciplinary teams collaborating holistically represent financial advising’s future. Solo generalists using piecemeal approaches face an uphill battle. Client demand, competitive pressures, and common sense all dictate this change.

Shortcomings of traditional single-advisor models

Attempting comprehensive financial planning through a solo lens grows ineffective quickly.
I discovered this years back while managing complex accounts at Desjardins. Despite subject matter expertise in certain domains, no individual can deeply specialize across investments, risk mitigation, tax, and business strategies simultaneously. I see many advisors invest countless extra hours trying to fill knowledge gaps serving multifaceted clients. But a financial advisor’s bandwidth is finite.

Additionally, many solo financial advisors overly rely on financial planning software projections. While technology outputs help illustrate scenarios, human insight connects meaningfully to personal goals and values. Diverse teams who collaboratively discuss financial impacts rather than simply inputting variables gain deeper wisdom.

This dynamic underlies the shortcomings of generalist models trying to stretch across specialties. Financial advisors who view themselves as “one-stop shops” rarely have time to deliver actual customization once spread thin. I’ve witnessed this frustration firsthand from those who eventually reached out to leverage my multidisciplinary team model after their standalone efforts failed high-net-worth clients.

One could argue employing single disciplines suits more straightforward planning needs. However, the accelerating complexity of financial lives dictates otherwise. Holistic coordination trumps narrow silos nearly universally now. As I coach financial industry professionals on strategic change management, we discuss how integrated expertise must become standard – anything less sells today’s investors short.

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

Emergence of fintech and the importance of digital integration in the financial advising industry

Fintech innovations enable more streamlined, data-driven analysis while simultaneously threatening advisors slow to digitize. Allow me to elaborate based on my digital transformation experience.

Years back while managing a siloed team of annuity specialists, we manually crunched numbers to inform recommendations. As robo-advisors emerged, I witnessed automation rapidly commoditize basic portfolio construction and rebalancing. Financial advisors stuck providing just these easily digitized offerings lost assets and clients quickly.

This demonstrated technology’s risk of displacing certain financial advisor responsibilities. Yet after my initial hesitation, integrating select fintech tools proved empowering.

Streamlined back-end processes freed up the capacity to have deeper strategic discussions with clients. Technology optimized the “boring” tactical work while we focused on high-value relationship building.

The most forward-looking financial advisors today similarly allow fintech to absorb lower-level tasks so they provide augmented expertise, creativity, and emotional intelligence. They become masters of leveraging technology to enhance specialization rather than get replaced. This integration unlocks substantial capacity for more comprehensive financial planning discussions.

I influence advisors on viewing tech integration through this lens – an opportunity to get ahead of disruption. While digital saturation continues accelerating across financial services, advisors play an irreplaceable role coordinating expert insights. The highest-performing multidisciplinary teams use technology to facilitate this human collaboration rather than try fighting unstoppable change.

Modern financial advising obligates digital fluency, both to keep pace with industry shifts and maximize client benefit. Multidisciplinary teams failing at either integration or specialization face extinction. In my view, financial services technologies must serve as infrastructure so relationship-focused advice endures into the 21st century.

Why Multidisciplinary Financial Advising Model Could be the Future

Imagine an investor concerned over healthcare costs, retirement income stability, and family business succession simultaneously. Their financial life constitutes a multifaceted puzzle. Can any single financial advisor adequately align so many complex, interlinked pieces? Perhaps a coordinated multidisciplinary team offering both targeted expertise and holistic oversight proves better positioned to deliver peace of mind.

Across industries, businesses flourish by compounding specialized functions. Healthcare, education, and countless fields now integrate cross-disciplinary perspectives to meet rising stakeholder expectations. Financial advising appears poised for similar team-based disruption as solo generalists get overwhelmed by intricate financial planning needs.

Clients who work with team-based financial advisors have more assets invested - Statistics by McKinsey

Clients who work with team-based advisors have more assets invested. Source: PriceMetrix by McKinsey

Potential benefits of team dynamics and specialization

This shift stemmed partly from agonizing resource constraints serving complex clients alone. I lacked total expertise spanning the synergy of insurance, investments, and taxes. Similar to many financial advisors, bridging knowledge gaps myself proved unsustainable.

The alternative of making disjointed referrals also dissatisfied and risked fractured relationships. This dilemma catalyzed bringing handpicked specialists in-house to collaborate around clients’ holistic financial pictures. Deep subject matter experts could divide workload while maintaining coordination.

Beyond alleviating individual bandwidth constraints, formalized multidisciplinary teams also cultivate more meaningful expertise through ongoing peer dialogue. Solo financial advisors lose growth opportunities lacking cross-disciplinary perspective. Regular case analysis across diverse lenses compounds knowledge exponentially. Distinct specialties interlinking forges dynamic wisdom.

Additionally, different personalities with complementary soft skill sets better resonate with varying client preferences. A multidisciplinary team containing both outspoken strategists and meticulous analysts suits more clients. This interpersonal diversity also improves leadership continuity planning so a single retirement doesn’t destabilize the entire practice.

Integrated wealth management strategies

So, what exactly do these MDT strategies entail? Embracing comprehensive coordination requires fundamental shifts from convention. Allow me to elaborate with real examples from Chris Burton.

Chris profiled an integrated in-house multidisciplinary team structure spanning investments, mortgages, insurance, and accounting. This empowers customized holistic support tackling client requests across the financial spectrum. When initially seeking a narrow service like life insurance, conversations uncover interconnected needs triggering team collaborations.

For instance, while reviewing asset protection products for a business owner, their commercial debts may surface. This prompts an introduction to the team’s mortgage specialist for more advantageous credit solutions, concurrently strengthening the overall relationship. Or mortgage financing conversations could reveal suboptimal investment asset allocation, leading to prudent portfolio adjustments.

The essence of integrated wealth management is breaking down silos that constrain financial advisory capabilities and client benefits. This obligates abandoning rigid service area divisions. By instead facilitating multidisciplinary financial dialogue, advisors gain a more comprehensive perspective. This empowers spotting obscured opportunities and orchestrating more robust solutions.

As I coach financial advisors on the industry’s future, integrated strategies figure prominently into the vision. The complex interwoven reality of investors’ financial lives refuses compartmentalization. Helping clients harmonize the whole picture requires financial advisors who fluidly bridge disciplines to assemble customized game plans. Specialized integration represents the pinnacle of value.

Optimal Multidisciplinary Financial Advisor Team Structure

Thus far we’ve covered the strategic imperative of interdisciplinary collaboration and integration. Now let’s examine optimal multidisciplinary team configurations to bring this vision to life.

The more products that you sell them, the bigger fence you're putting around them, the more loyalties they have to you. So, if I'm not doing one of those things, they're going to get it somewhere else, right? And so here's, it seems like a simple thing we would all probably like to do it. It's not as easy finding the right aces in the right places. You need people on your team that have the same client folk, first focus, we need to have the same values.

Ideally, multidisciplinary teams with diverse specialties spanning investments, insurance, mortgages, accounting, and legal. This casts a wide net capturing clients’ full financial life complexity. However, prescribing specific roles overly constrains possibilities. Unique capabilities matching distinct regional needs is ideal.

Regardless of exact positions, adhering to a relationship-based partnership model is critical. All team members should participate in regular roundtable discussions exploring client situations from various lenses. This enables both enriching collaborator connectivity and sharpening advisors’ own expertise through cross-training.

To facilitate multidisciplinary team synergy, a senior lead advisor often oversees nurturing holistic client relationships and charting comprehensive plans. Junior advisors driving day-to-day execution efforts then collaborate traversing silos so nothing falls between the cracks. This hierarchy allows both customization and convenience.

Structurally, centralized physical proximity proves extremely beneficial for ease of collaboration and referrals. This is facilitated through shared office suites housing the multidisciplinary team under one roof. However, as Chris Burton said on the Discovery Series podcast, digital tools can also streamline connectivity in remote or hybrid settings.

The core ingredients underlying effective multidisciplinary teams are diversity of specialization, relationship-centricity, structured hierarchy, and efficient infrastructure for integrated coordination. Blending these foundational elements offers infinite potential configurations matched to specific business contexts and advisor strengths.

Implementing a Multidisciplinary Team Approach in Financial Advising

“I realized today’s clients demand integrated support but transforming my practice seemed overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start without guidance.” This sentiment echoes across advisors intrigued but hesitant about specialist team consolidation. Take heart! Transition stories from financial advisors like Chirs Burton, now thriving through collaboration demystify logistics through actionable recommendations so you can progress confidently.

In this section, I’ll share my step-by-step guide on embracing interdisciplinary partnering by covering multidisciplinary team assembly, technology integration to bridge silos, role optimization, and synergy development. And then I’ll share my top 10 tips on implementing an MDT approach. While obstacles certainly exist, applied evidence confirms a little facilitation unlocks exponential gains.

How multidisciplinary financial advisory teams are structured - Statistics by McKinsey

How multidisciplinary financial advisory teams are structured. Source: PriceMetrix by McKinsey

Step 1: Build a multidisciplinary financial planning team.

Thus far we’ve established the immense potential of specialized multidisciplinary team models for driving growth amid industry change. Now let’s switch gears towards practical implementation – how can financial advisors actually build these powerhouse groups? My lessons learned from transforming from a solo advisor to a team leader at Desjardins inform recommendations.

First, audit your existing capabilities and identify major client financial planning gaps not adequately addressed. Assess opportunities to bridge disciplines like legal, accounting, banking, mortgages, investments, or insurance with specialist partners. This illuminates growth possibilities while determining initial recruitment needs.

Next, map your referral relationships and strengthen promising connections exhibiting aligned values and trust despite structural separation currently. Explore the desire to formally consolidate services under a coordinated team banner. Nurturing cultural fit and a client-first ethos form the foundation.

As recruitment progresses, define responsibilities across risk management, operations, relationship management, and technical domains. Seek both complementary hard and soft skills – detail-oriented strategists balancing big-picture collaborators. This diversity fuels growth while mitigating overreliance on any one individual.

Finally, continuously cross-train talents through communal case reviews. This builds collaborative muscle and conveys ongoing education opportunities that attract top talent. Regularly celebrate group and individual milestones offering both public recognition and performance-based incentives for motivation.

Step 2: Foster advisors collaboration through technology.

We’ve addressed talent recruitment and skill development. Now let’s explore optimizing infrastructure – leveraging technology to facilitate tight integration even amidst geographic dispersion.

As Chris Burton described on the Discovery Series: Unplugged podcast, and with which I agree, digitally streamlining client onboarding, data sharing, and collaborator referrals can enhance multidisciplinary team coordination, regardless of office proximity. Adoption levels currently vary, but optimizing processes for cloud-based alignment offers immense opportunity even post-pandemic.

This integration empowers secure information exchange to inform multifaceted planning discussions. Streamlined client profiles, visually linked financial priorities, advisor interactions, and next steps foster alignment. Shared calendars, video conferencing, video PDFs, and instant messaging also connect multidisciplinary teams with flexibility.

Automating backend paperwork, application processing, and status tracking liberates capacity for value-added strategy. Integrations with CRM, email marketing, financial planning, and client portal systems holistically link data inputs to customized outputs.

While technology enables efficient teams at scale, financial advisors provide the human touch. Purposefully leveraging tools to augment expertise – not replace it – is key. Multidisciplinary teams who collaboratively analyze output to enrich financial life coordination flourish. This interplay drives innovation.


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Step 3: Optimize multidisciplinary team member roles and expertise.

The optimal configuration, in my experience, features roles spanning a breadth of core financial domains like banking, investments, mortgages, insurance, accounting, and legal. However, advisors should avoid rigid constraints and instead embrace fluidity. Unique strengths matching distinct business contexts is ideal.

Within a multidisciplinary team, designation of a senior lead advisor often proves effective by centralizing holistic relationship management and advisory coordination responsibilities. Junior advisors driving execution across silos can benefit from having one conductor guiding integrated strategies.

When mapping expertise, seeking both technical and interpersonal diversity fuels growth. Blend detail-driven tacticians with big-picture visionaries, as well as outgoing strategists and introverted analysts. This multiplicity of capabilities and personalities better serves varying client types while powering innovation.

Regular communal training and development opportunities also maximize human capital over time. Rotational assignments prevent siloed knowledge while both improving advisor abilities and offering career progression incentives to retain top talent.

Step 4: Facilitate coordination and synergy between advisors.

As someone who has spent years evolving into a senior team leadership role at Desjardins, I’ve learned firsthand the ingredients enabling fluid collaboration in multidisciplinary teams. It starts with continuous relationship nurturing across disciplines. Regular communal sessions for strategic planning, case review, and capability building sustain connectivity.

I recommend appointing an overall team conductor role to guide holistic coordination. They oversee crafting integrated plans, prompt appropriate referrals at client touchpoints, and ensure nothing falls between the cracks. This leadership presence sustains harmony and accountability.

Operationally, the goal is to optimize workflows around transition touchpoints as clients engage various advisors. Secure data-sharing permissions facilitate information access so collaborators align plans. Common digital tools provide platforms to centralize dialogue.

Another key synergy driver is incentive structures promoting cross-functional participation. You can celebrate group successes publicly while also offering individual rewards for proactive referrals. This motivates advisors to actively consult partners across specializations, powering innovation.

The key is balancing standardization for consistency with flexibility across unique client situations. Template structures enable efficiency while advisor creativity fuels customization. Streamlined collaboration unlocks exponential value from specialists’ compounding perspectives.

My Top 10 Tips on Implementing a Multidisciplinary Team Model in Financial Advising

Thus far we’ve covered the immense potential of MDT integration in financial advising and nuts-and-bolts considerations executing this model. Now what if you could get started on this path today? Boiling down best practices from trailblazers thriving through collaboration, I’ve distilled my top 10 most critical action steps jumpstarting your multidisciplinary team buildout.

  1. Audit existing capabilities and identify client planning gaps to address through specialized recruitments. Look for potential partners across investments, insurance, accounting, legal, and banking.
  2. Map existing referral relationships with trusted experts in different financial domains and explore formally integrating services under a consolidated team model.
  3. Designate a senior lead advisor to oversee nurturing holistic client relationships and coordinating advice across disciples to ensure aligned strategies.
  4. Implement unified customer relationship management (CRM) systems and ensure secure data-sharing protocols to facilitate organized client profile access across the team.
  5. Institute regular, communal training sessions, case reviews, and strategic planning meetings to build relationship connectivity between specialists accustomed to independent operation.
  6. Incentivize cross-functional participation through public recognition of collaborative “wins” and performance-based rewards for proactive referrals between team members.
  7. Appoint specialists spanning core financial areas while also embracing flexibility to configure roles matching distinct business contexts, advisor strengths, and regional needs.
  8. Blend technical and interpersonal diversity within teams, balancing meticulous tacticians with big-picture visionaries and outgoing strategists with introverted analysts.
  9. Mitigate potential geographical barriers through designating regional sub-team conduits and extensive utilization of video conferencing and collaboration technologies.
  10. Accelerate service integration by centralizing client profile data, advisor interactions, and milestone triggers within a shared digital CRM system prompting relevant collaborator referrals.

The Benefits of the Multidisciplinary Financial Advising Teams Model

So far we’ve discussed multidisciplinary team structuring – but does the MDT model tangibly transform client and business growth outcomes beyond conventional approaches? Let’s explore.

1. Impact on client experience and satisfaction.

Over my career in the financial industry, I’ve fielded hundreds of client strategy surveys following engagements. Time and again, individuals working with generalized solo advisors express frustration at hollow, disjointed experiences lacking integrated financial life coordination. But those able to consolidate specialized experts under one roof convey sheer delight at wrapping customized counsel.

A friend of mine, a financial advisor, once shared an experience he had with a wealthy couple. They originally sought him out due to his accomplishments specifically structuring complex trust vehicles and insurance strategies for high-net-worth families. Much like traditional advisor relationships they were accustomed to, their preliminary engagements focused narrowly on estate planning in isolation. They left satisfied from these initial interactions but didn’t yet feel the “wow” factor.

The relationship transformed once he coordinated his specialized team of investment managers, tax accountants, and banking partners to collaborate around their broader wealth goals. What they expected to be just another segmented financial advisor experience became a revelation of alignment attaining what once felt impossible. The collective brain trust illuminated a boundless horizon of possibilities.

2. Ability to provide customized and future-oriented advice.

Beyond uplifting satisfaction, integrated specialist teams also unlock potential for highly tailored counsel spanning clients’ financial life horizons. My 25+ years of working with and managing high-performing financial advisor teams at Desjardins demonstrate this exponentially greater personalization capability.

Consolidating subject matter experts across investments, insurance, mortgages, accounting, and legal fosters regular cross-disciplinary dialogue. This magnification of perspectives compounds insights on creatively addressing individual client challenges and opportunities related to business succession, retirement planning, legacy establishment, tax minimization, and risk management.

Take a real example – a CEO client concerned about concentrator risk as a majority shareholder of a private company. A multifaceted approach can not only design a diversification plan but also build contingency strategies aligning liquidity for estate tax liability while ensuring continuity if sudden health issues emerge.

Such multidimensional scenario planning would overwhelm any single financial advisor yet proved achievable through multidisciplinary team collaboration. A multidisciplinary team’s broad vantage point can also reveal future risks and solutions that generalized financial advisors would likely overlook.

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3. Competitive differentiation for innovation.

Thus far we’ve covered multidisciplinary teams’ client experience and customization advantages. Now let’s examine how consolidated financial advisor groups also uniquely pioneer creative solutions.

Repeatedly, I’ve witnessed breakthrough ideas emerge from regular communal training across disciplines. What may initially present as an insurance-specific challenge triggers an accounting colleague’s novel tax approach. Investment-limiting assumptions get shattered by applying legal precedents.

Beyond instigating internal advancements, these compounded lens also better identify client needs preceding any current market offerings. I’ve seen our multidisciplinary teams at Desjardins brainstorm customized products later popularized industry-wide. This first-mover advantage persists by sustaining an innovation habitat through cross-pollination.

In a world of increasing robotic automation, the last bastion of sustainable value propositions is human ingenuity. Financial advisors who systematically nurture idea diversity through specialist collaboration cultivate the culture and capabilities to invent the future.

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

The Challenges of the Multidisciplinary Financial Advising Teams Model

While the merits of MDT integration become apparent, navigating change management complexities remains imperative for successful execution. Meticulous orchestration helps amplify the upside while mitigating risks when consolidating advisors accustomed to independent operations.

In this section, I’ll share some considerations around optimal leadership structures, geographical and data privacy barriers limiting seamless coordination, reconciling varied disciplinary approaches, and enabling consistent investor experiences during advisor handoffs.

1. Navigating advisor dynamics and leadership.

While we’ve discussed the immense benefits of consolidating financial advisors into collaborative multidisciplinary teams, let’s now acknowledge associated leadership challenges and complexities. Over two decades of guiding top performers in the financial industry, I’ve learned many strategies for navigating integration obstacles.

Central is managing dynamics across financial advisors used to independent operating styles. Egos can limit fluid teaming. Strategically promoting shared accomplishments over individual outcomes encourages unity. I publicly highlight contributions to collective “wins” that individual glory-chasing might otherwise stifle.

Relatedly, delegating authority for different specializations while retaining clear overall direction proves crucial. This empowers advisors to feel autonomous as subject experts while also aligning contributions to a centralized mission. Lateral leadership supplements vertical alignment.

Finally, coordination costs pose management challenges. Mitigations include designating a senior relationship manager role focused on sustaining high-level workflow integration. They connect touchpoints into seamless client transitions across advisors positioned to excel in their respective disciplines.

2. Overcoming multidisciplinary collaboration barriers.

While managing team dynamics poses inherent challenges, the complexities compound integrating specialized advisors accustomed to siloed operations.

A threshold obstacle is geography limiting in-person coordination, especially with today’s remote trends. Mitigating this obligates creativity, from designating regional sub-team conduits to bridging communication through video conferencing, video emails, and collaboration technology syncing advisor community insights.

Equally prominent are data privacy considerations balancing security against access essential for holistic financial pictures. Our protocols involve tiered permissioning so advisors gain purely appropriate visibility mapped to client consent and engagement needs. Streamlined through automation, this facilitates open exchange within guarded rails.

3. Coaching diverse perspectives and approaches by using Peer to Peer learning.

While navigating logistical barriers, multidisciplinary teams also grapple with reconciling varied outlooks, priorities, and financial planning styles among team members.

The key is framing divergence as intellectual capital when woven together rather than fragmented. I foster this through collaborative goal-setting, ensuring overarching alignment while still empowering discretion based on role-specific vantage points. Unified targets enable decentralized paths.

A highly effective strategy that the Discovery Series team along with the leadership of David Lee, Business Development Support Manager implemented for aligning diverse perspectives within multidisciplinary teams is facilitating regular peer to peer workshops and Discovery Series Webcasts on real client case studies. These working sessions enable advisors to walk through multifaceted scenarios through colleagues’ lenses.

For example, when reviewing a business owner client concerned about concentration risk, insurance experts will articulate risk transfer and liquidity considerations while accounting partners weigh entity structuring and tax implications. Investors then speak to portfolio diversification tradeoffs.

This builds mutual empathy as advisors gain a firsthand appreciation of each others’ domains. Anchoring on a shared goal of serving the client mitigates polarization while harnessing variance as intellectual capital.

I purposefully curate cases with interlinked complexities needing compartmentalized yet coordinated handling. Rotating facilitation across team leaders further empowers sensemaking. Over the years these “round tables” compound knowledge and forge trust through collaborative problem-solving.

Embracing diversity obligates patience and facilitation initially but pays exponential dividends long-term positioning teams to meet multifaceted client needs. They leverage variance as a competitive advantage rather than a barrier.

4. Achieving service integration across MDT departments.

Coordinating advisors accustomed to siloed operations poses immense challenges without ongoing infrastructure enabling seamless collaborator handoffs. Over years influencing integrated multidisciplinary teams at Desjardins, I’ve learned strategies to champion service consistency amidst departmental diversity.

Central is establishing unified customer relationship management (CRM) systems to facilitate systemwide visibility into client profiles, advisor interactions, and financial priorities. Automated prompts also track milestone-based triggers, prompting relevant team referrals.

We also implement secure data-sharing permissions so collaborators access appropriately sensitive information to inform holistic planning. When clients engage additional experts, profile permissions expand, fostered through digital release confirmations at each advisor touchpoint.

Finally, centralized calendars foster awareness around advisor availability. This allows real-time visual coordination supports dynamic scheduling of collaborator meetings based on discipline-specific needs as integrated plans unfold.


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The Future of the Multidisciplinary Team Model in Financial Advising

The trajectory of financial advice points steadily towards specialized multidisciplinary team integration. As client needs intertwine across domains from banking to risk management amidst digital disruption, siloed generalists lose relevance while expert collaborators gain an advantage. What origins reshape next-generation planning?

Projected trends show comprehensive, relationship-based teams supported by analytics and workflow automation as ascendent. Fostering boundless customization through bespoke advice coordinating mortgage, investment, insurance, tax, and legal disciplines is imperative.

This obligates planning today for the skills integral to tomorrow’s multidisciplinary teams – namely boundary-spanning facilitation, stakeholder coordination, data synthesis, and technical literacy to extract insights from AI. Lead financial advisors will leverage tools allowing more bandwidth for strategic guidance.

Undergirding integration, common competencies like consultative assessment, financial visualization, and client-centered design thinking fuel differentiation. Forward-looking collectives build these capabilities to author comprehensive expert guidance augmented by technology.

The playbook for the future lies with today’s pioneering multidisciplinary teams. Their innovations manifest in coming decades for financial advisors coachable towards expanding expertise scope while sustaining specialization depth. Embracing this multidisciplinary model uplifts professional trajectories amidst accelerating industry change.


What is a multidisciplinary team in financial advising?

A multidisciplinary team in financial advising includes experts like certified financial planners, investment advisors, tax specialists, estate planning attorneys, and insurance advisors. MDT teams provide comprehensive advisory services, ensuring all aspects of a client’s financial life are strategically managed.

MDT financial strategies benefit clients by offering holistic, integrated wealth management. MDT combines interdisciplinary expertise, ensuring comprehensive and multifaceted financial advice. Collaborative management by MDT teams leads to future-oriented solutions, addressing complex financial needs efficiently.

Future trends in financial planning are gravitating towards multidisciplinary financial advising and team-based financial strategies. This evolution emphasizes integrated financial advisory services, leveraging collaborative financial management and interdisciplinary financial advice. Holistic financial planning approaches and comprehensive wealth management strategies are becoming more prevalent, driven by cross-functional financial teams. These trends reflect a shift towards more innovative, future-oriented financial advising, incorporating advanced technologies and diverse expert consultations.

Disclaimer: The following information is being presented on the understanding that it is intended for information purposes only. None of the presenters or Desjardins Insurance has been engaged for the purpose of providing legal, taxation, or other professional advice. No one should act upon the examples/information without a thorough examination of the legal/tax situation with the appropriate professional advisors.

About the Author

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter), a veteran in the insurance and financial advisory industry, boasts over 25 years of experience. His journey began in 1998 at Imperial Life Financial in Toronto, ON, where he managed over $40 Million in annuity assets. His prowess quickly earned him a promotion to Team Leader in 2002, where he led a team of financial advisors. In 2005, Reh’s expertise propelled him to the role of Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. In this role, he was responsible for training financial advisors and driving life and health insurance sales through strategic marketing and business development. His commitment to financial advisor education was further exemplified between 2007 and 2009, serving as Vice President for Education at Advocis Toronto (The Financial Advisors Association of Canada). In 2012, he became Senior Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. At Desjardins, he managed the company’s largest account and developed key sales strategies and business building techniques for life and health insurance solutions. His exceptional leadership skills led to his 2020 promotion to National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins Financial Security, where he spearheaded the coaching and development of sales processes across the national network. In 2021, Reh expanded his influence as the host of the award-winning Discovery Series Podcast by Desjardins, providing a platform for industry-leading financial advisors to share their strategies, success stories, and industry leading insights.

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