TD has announced three financial contributions to U of T’s Rotman School of Management. The donations consist of $4 million to establish the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab, $2.5 million to become a founding member of the Creative Destruction Lab’s (CDL) Health stream, and approximately $200,000 toward the Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) centre.
Speaking of donations generally, Ken McGuffin, Rotman’s Media Relations Manager, wrote in an email to The Varsity that this type of support allows Rotman “to invest in innovative academic and experiential programs, provide door-opening scholarships to students in need, support research by our faculty and much more.”
TD Management Data and Analytics Lab
The bulk of TD’s financial contributions will be used to fund the establishment and staffing of a new data analytics lab at Rotman. This lab will provide Rotman students with a greater range of resources for research in data and analytics, including funding workshops, hackathons, and guest lectures.
The research output coming from this partnership will remain in the public domain. The partnership is “about the general public good and [TD’s] ability to work with students,” according to Christian Nelissen, TD’s Head of Enterprise Data and Analytics. Nelissen added that Rotman “has a terrific brand reputation” and that it is “very much aligned into what [TD is] trying to do and how we think about future of data and analytics and the respective roles in that.”
“Rotman is a great partner because… their job is to build the managers of the future and to broaden out people’s horizons and… the broader capability around data analytics,” said Nelissen.
Toronto ranked as the fourth best North American city in CBRE’s 2018 tech talent markets report, and Rotman’s increased research funding is expected to add to the city’s growing tech sector.
TD further hopes that fostering this strong partnership with Rotman will encourage more graduates to work for the bank. This is an equally valuable outcome for Rotman. “The support of TD and our other partners… in providing internship, employment, and other learning opportunities is tremendous. Experiential learning is a key part of many of our programs,” said McGuffin.
The partnership is for an initial five-year period. Nelissen described it as “more than just a commercial relationship,” and as one that will continue to develop over time. “We also have to make sure that Rotman grows and develops and gets to do what it wants to do,” he said.
The $4 million contribution follows TD’s $1 million donation to the Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics last year, which helped develop new classes and learning opportunities in financial innovation, including workshops and scholarships.
CDL Health stream
TD’s $2.5 million pledge to the CDL makes it a Corporate Founding Member of the CDL Health stream, which focuses on biotechnology, bioinformatics, diagnostics, and digital care. The CDL “merges science-based projects with business expertise to help young companies scale-up into creators of new jobs, processes, and services,” according to its website.
In March, TD launched the Ready Commitment, which sets a $1 billion target for philanthropy by 2030 to “support change, nurture progress, and contribute to making the world a better, more inclusive place.”
Andrea Barrack, TD’s Vice-President of Global Corporate Citizenship, considers work with the CDL as important to fulfilling the Ready Commitment. “We’re a large bank… but we don’t have enough money to actually solve all of the health care issues that are out there. And so what we’re looking for is, what can we fund that would be catalytic in its impact?” she said. “What can we do in health care to actually make it more accessible to the patient and make it easier to access? And so I think that was the CDL.”
Startups in the Health stream will attend five in-person objective-setting sessions between October 2018 and June 2019. Startups that address health-related issues at any level of development will be considered for inclusion in the stream. The Health stream currently operates at two of the CDL’s six locations: one at U of T, and the other in Vancouver. Barrack added that there is a “huge growth plan and certainly massive interest,” and that TD wants “to be able to significantly contribute to [the CDL] being able to scale and meet the demand [for health startup incubators].”
Artificial intelligence (AI) developments and startups flourish within the CDL because it provides a longer incubation period, according to Tomi Poutanen, TD’s Chief AI Officer and a founding fellow of the CDL. Unlike “incubators that you race to create a pitch… [at the CDL], over a nine-month period, you get coached and find a market and are able to build a business,” he said, Poutanen noted that with over 100 AI companies operating through the CDL, it is recognized as the largest AI venture accelerator.
This partnership is also for an initial five-year period. “We want to contribute in the way that we can, but it’s not a quid pro quo for us, right? When we use our philanthropy, we believe in the potential impact of that project. We want to be able to be helpful to that, but we don’t ever put ourselves in a decisioning role around what goes forward or not,” said Barrack.
TD has been working informally with Rotman in the development of its Discovery Tool, a survey that identifies an investor’s ‘Wealth Personality.’ Investors answer a survey relating to their personality and preferences, as well as their financial plans, to allow TD advisors to identify financial blind spots.
The survey is an example of behavioural economics, and it is used to “further examine and research the underlying emotions and behaviours that drive financial decision making,” according to Rotman’s press release.
David Terry, TD’s Vice-President of Wealth Segment Strategy, said that TD Wealth identified Rotman as a top school focusing on behavioural economics in Canada. “[BEAR] has some of the best minds as it relates to behavioral economics and behavioral finance in Canada. We value that expertise, academic research, the approach to parsing through data.”
The partnership, which covers an initial two-year period, will specifically allow TD to adapt BEAR’s behavioral economics research and apply it to benefit TD clients and advisors. “There will be probably some areas where [TD] will want some exclusivity for a period of time, but the reality is, a lot of this should benefit Rotman’s future thinking in terms of how they can apply this across industries, let alone financial services,” said Terry.
Editor’s Note (October 21): This article has been updated to clarify a quote from Ken McGuffin.