For most companies, success is measured by their bottom line. Many corporations focus on profit and loss statements as a way to gauge how well they’re doing, but the fact is that kind of approach misses a lot of what makes a company successful.
At Signature Wealth, we believe the reason we do so well in the financial sector is that we have built and cultivated a company culture that propels us forward. Whether you’re in this industry or not, having a strong culture is going to be the driving force that helps you achieve your goals.
To me, two things matter most in business.
First, there’s your vision. What do you want to do as a company? Where are you headed?
Second only to that vision is your company culture. I like to think of it like this – your vision is the roadmap to success, but your company culture is the engine that’s going to get you there. Both are essential to the future, and you can’t have one without the other.
I want to share with you the value that company culture can bring to your financial practice, and show you how it has allowed our practice to grow and succeed so well in the past few years. I’ve seen firsthand how our culture has helped shape our goals, and I want you to experience the same level of success.
By the Numbers – Why is Culture So Important?
Before I start waxing philosophical about company culture and what it means to us, we should first take a look at some of the data out there. While Signature Wealth can stand as a shining example of a company culture that works, I want you to get a broader sense of the value that comes from taking this kind of approach to your business.
Just 12% of executives believe that they are driving the “right culture” for their companies, and yet 94% of them also think that a strong culture is what will drive success.
It’s easy to see why. When a company has a strong culture, it can yield a slew of benefits that go beyond the bottom line. Businesses that invest in an inclusive culture can see up to four times the revenue that other companies do. At the same time, they can save money on hiring (up to half) because they are recruiting the right people that fit within the culture that they have created.
Speaking of people, research shows that satisfied employees are more productive (up to 12% more), which fuels the success of your business. When your employees are engaged in the work, and they are happy with their environment, they will outperform someone who doesn’t value their job as much. Workplaces with engaged employees will see a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
When you step back and take a good look at the impact that culture can have on your company, it becomes apparent that it’s a valuable tool to employ in your business. But why are so many enterprises out there lacking in this fundamental aspect?
If you start to pay attention to company culture as an investment, the ROI is more than valuable enough to start doing something about it. At Signature Wealth, we understand this as much as anyone, and our model has proven to be an effective method for growing our business.
How Culture Influences Our Brand
So what is company culture exactly? How would you define it? For me, it’s the feeling you get from being at work. I want to work in a place where I’m comfortable with my colleagues and where my input and my decisions matter. Company culture is all about developing a sense of trust and familiarity with your team, and above all, it’s about supporting each other through thick and thin.
Our Company Culture
At Signature Wealth, we take a family-first approach to our business. We know that the value that we offer to our clients is based on our staff, which is why we take the time to cultivate a team that works well together and operates much like a family.
I know that a lot of corporations out there talk about this kind of approach, but for many of them, it’s more like a buzzword or a sales pitch than actual policy. The disconnect between management and employees is enormous, which creates the wrong kind of energy that will drive the company forward.
Our company culture focuses on three things:
- We want people who are good at what they do
- We want our staff to enjoy what they’re doing
- Everything we do is for the good of the group, not the individual
Our approach is that we are all in this together, so we want to work cohesively as a group. If employees are separated or encouraged to compete against one another, it will create the wrong energy and the wrong message for our clients. We strive to create a united front that serves as the foundation for our success. Anything less would be foolhardy.
How We Share Our Culture to Outsiders
The great thing about having a strong culture in your business is that it drives everything that you do. Our culture is not some “hidden secret” that we keep to ourselves. It’s a part of who we are and how we present ourselves.
If you were to ask our clients about our culture, they would talk to you about how we support each other and how we share the same kind of values that they do. They will also tell you that we’re very approachable, with a casual yet professional vibe.
I’ve worked for companies that required formal business attire, and I’ve seen other businesses try to keep their clients at arm’s length. I don’t believe that this is the right approach. We wear our culture on our sleeves, and it’s part of the reason why our clients like working with us so much.
To illustrate my point a little more, I’d like to share a particular example from our marketing team.
One of our team members used to be an independent marketing consultant. She worked with a lot of companies and corporations, helping them to develop various branding strategies and campaigns.
Her independence was a large part of who she was as a professional. She preferred working that way because it offered her the freedom to love what she does. She could pick the clients that she wanted to work with, rather than doing projects that didn’t fulfill her ideals.
We used to be just one of her clients. True, we were one of her best clients, but she still maintained her independent status. However, once she dived deeper into who we are, what we do, and where we’re going, she decided that this is where she wanted to be.
I didn’t ask her to be a full-time marketing consultant. She requested to be brought in. Why? Because our company culture was aligned with her priorities, and she understood the value that came from working for us.
That shows the kind of impact that we have on our clients, our colleagues and even our contractors. We attract like-minded people who share the same values, which is why we can have so much success together. We don’t maintain the standard “client-business” relationship. We take things deeper and make a connection, and our clients respond to that.
How Culture Impacts Our Team
Internally, the culture we’ve created at Signature Wealth has a significant impact on our staff. Everyone from the CEO to the receptionist is part of this culture, and everyone understands that. By taking a family-first approach, we can cultivate a working environment that benefits all of us, not just those at the top.
We understand that our employees are much more than the skills they possess. They’re people with lives that exist outside of the office, and we support them in everything they do.
One of our employees recently had a baby. After giving birth, she was experiencing some lingering health issues and requested an additional month of maternity leave. Our response? We’ll be here when you get back.
When one of our new staff members was hired, she experienced a death in the family two days after starting. We didn’t think twice about giving her the support she needed to get through that experience. For most people, the idea of taking time off immediately after starting a job is unfathomable. For us, we understand that it’s a part of life.
Because we take this approach, our employees are much more satisfied with their work. Coming into the office doesn’t feel like a “job,” it’s a part of who they are. Our company culture is an extension of themselves, which enables them to succeed. As a business, their success is our success.
How Culture Influences the Hiring Process
We didn’t build our team in a day, and no company should take a fast and loose approach to finding new people. There’s an old saying “hire slow and fire fast.” While there is some truth to that, only the first part applies to our methods.
Because we’re a team-oriented business, the hiring process is a group effort. Anyone we bring in is going to be working with and interacting with everyone else, so it’s crucial that they fit in well with the kind of culture we have.
I used to work for a company that would take all new hires out to dinner. The purpose of this was to observe how the person treated the wait staff at the restaurant. You can tell a lot about someone based on how they interact with someone who is “beneath their station.”
While we don’t necessarily take the same approach, we have our own methods for discovering the truth of how someone will fit into our organization.
For example, we believe that the interview doesn’t start when a manager comes in and starts asking questions. It begins with the first interaction. When the person meets with our receptionist, that’s the beginning of the interview. Her perceptions and her assessment are just as valid as my own, so we make sure to take a more comprehensive view of everyone we interview.
An excellent way to put it is that we hire based more on compatibility, not just credentials. You can have a highly qualified person come in for the job, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the right person for the position. It’s much better to have someone who fits well than someone with an impeccable resume.
That being said, not everyone will be a good fit for our culture. One of the things to remember is that you have to work hard to maintain the culture you want, which means that you have to make sure that everyone is on board with it.
When someone doesn’t work out, we take the time to help them transition. We don’t believe in sending a person home with a pink slip. We’ve actually helped ex-employees find a new job where they will fit in better. That’s the level of commitment we have to putting people first.
How Our Culture Permeates Our Business Strategy
One mistake that I notice a lot of companies making is that they somehow believe that their culture is separate from everything else. When it comes to day-to-day activities and other elements of the business, they aren’t focused on incorporating their culture into them.
As I mentioned earlier, your culture is going to be the engine that drives you toward your goal. If that’s the case, then it should be a part of everything you do, whether it’s working on a new marketing campaign or having a quarterly meeting with your CFO. Your company culture should be so ingrained in the experience that it guides you in all of your decisions.
At Signature Wealth, we have taken the time to craft a meaningful culture, and it shows in everything we do. Our success is intrinsically tied to it, and it influences all of our actions. From hiring new employees to building success with clients, we make sure that our culture is always there.
Why Culture Matters for Financial Practices
Overall, having a strong culture matters for any business, but how can it have a meaningful impact on your financial practice? Why is it so critical to your success in this industry?
The answer lies in your clients. Having a financial practice requires a lot of trust between you and your customers, which is why having a well-crafted culture can make such a big difference.
For us, our commitment to each other and our clients as individuals helps us develop stronger, more meaningful interactions. Our customers like working with us because we place value on them as a person, not just their finances.
We do this so well that sometimes clients will just contact us to talk about what’s going on in their lives, not anything related to work. We have cultivated such valuable relationships that the success we’ve achieved is only possible because of it.
I think a good way of describing it is that focusing your time and energy on the right company culture will yield the best results. Success is a natural byproduct of your culture, not the other way around.
Having a strong company culture will help you attract better talent. You will have a team of professionals that support each other and drive your business forward. Your culture will attract better clients and will help you retain the ones that offer the success you want. As a financial practice, company culture will set you apart from the rest, and it will enable you to move in the right direction.
How You Can Build a Culture of Your Own
First of all, you have to realize that you’re going to have a company culture no matter what. The only thing is whether you will be the one dictating how it works and how it shapes your business. Regardless of the amount of effort (or lack thereof) you put into a culture, one will take shape based on the people you have and the decisions you make as a company.
Hopefully, by now you understand that there is a lot of value in taking a determined approach to company culture. I hope that our success at Signature Wealth has illustrated the impact that it can have, which should inspire you to strive for the same thing.
But how can you get started?
I would suggest that you begin by asking your employees to describe the culture you have right now. Don’t try to qualify the question or frame it in such a way that they feel like they have to give a “correct” response. Simply ask, “what is our company culture?”
You may also want to ask some of your clients as well. Since they are ones seeing your company through an objective lens, their insight can be much more profound than those that are on the inside.
Once you have their answers, then think about the kind of culture you want to have. Think about how it would exist if you could build it from scratch. Then, compare the dream to the reality.
If they are close, then you’re already on the right path. If they are vastly different, then you now know that you have to correct your course.
In either case, it will boil down to your actions. If you want to create a comprehensive company culture that breeds success, you have to put the time and effort into it. Once you decide to do that, then it’s only a matter of time before you reach your goal.
With the amount of time you spend at work, I believe that you should enjoy your job and the people you work with as much as possible. We all take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships in our personal lives, so why shouldn’t we do the same for our business? Think about how many hours you spend at the office. Is it worth it if you’re not getting value out of your work?
Developing a company culture should be just as much about making a positive work experience for yourself and your employees as it is generating the success you crave.
Opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.