Written by: Christine Golden
Building a positive company culture is good for business, but it’s arguably more important in industries that thrive on the referral of happy clients – like financial services. ‘Culture’ isn’t just a warm and fuzzy buzzword, however. It’s a set of behavioral and procedural norms that govern a business, and here are five reasons it should matter to your advisory firm.
- Culture helps attract and retain talent. High morale isn’t the only hallmark of a good company culture. Businesses with strong culture often experience more trust, motivation, innovation, and engagement. They’re typically highly productive and flexible, and that’s the kind of workplace that attracts amazing employees. I’ve seen great people leave high-paying jobs in exchange for a more transparent culture, remote work options, and even a lower salary – because 40+ hours a week is simply too much time to spend in a work environment you don’t like.
- Culture sets expectations. Building a positive culture starts by identifying your corporate values and outlining the ways those play out in daily behaviors. This exercise – of building a sort of ‘culture playbook’ – ensures every team member understands the guardrails and can not only live up to expectations but also exceed them. A few years ago, I attended the INBOUND marketing conference and heard Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, talk about the importance of culture in the workplace. He said, “Corporate values are not BS. They help employees make good decisions when founders are not in the room.” Are you confident your employees could do so?
- Culture improves client experience. When employees embrace corporate values and feel personally responsible for living them out, they begin to think like an owner. They develop pride in their work. They’re proactive, creative, and focused on building relationships. They are driven to do more, and the benefit of that enthusiasm is often clients.
- Culture reinforces your value proposition. Today, there is little separation between sales, marketing, and operations – at least from a client’s perspective. Each touchpoint with advisory firm is an opportunity to reinforce or negate your value proposition. So, if you’ve done the work to identify what makes your firm unique, be sure to capitalize on every opportunity to reinforce it – and that starts internally.
- “[Clients] will only love a company if employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek, best-selling author and speaker. Hard working, highly engaged, and mission-motivated employees are your greatest asset. They are your first ‘marketing tactic’ and brand ambassadors. Keeping them informed is critical, and equipping them to communicate your value is essential for growing advisory firms. If employees love where they work – love what your business is about all about – your clients will notice and know it’s a special place to be.
To quote Tim Kight, founder and CEO of Focus 3, “Culture is built one conversation at a time, over time,” but it’s never too late to start building a better culture. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend looking over Kight’s culture playbook framework and taking an employee survey to get a baseline for morale. Once you’ve started down the road of defining culture, you’re just a few short steps from defining your unique value proposition.