Peter Drucker, the great American management educator, is famously quoted for the phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A friend of mine has that quote immortalized on the central wall of their corporate headquarters in giant block letters. They are a company of incredible culture.
“Culture” is perhaps one of the trendiest topics in business today. Nearly every major company has a paragraph or two explaining the culture or people that represent the brand. And yet, not every major company is known for having an amazing culture.
If you take a second to think about a company that stands out for having a remarkable culture, a few businesses might come to mind – big or small. But in the context of the millions of businesses out there, it’s likely a very short list. That high praise is reserved for a select few companies. Difficult to track, but you know it when you see it.
And while most leaders agree that cultivating an amazing culture is a worthy investment, moving from theory to practice is a rare occurrence. In fact, one study by Deloitte found that 88% of employees are not engaged with the work they are doing. To make matters worse, a study by Gallup found that disengaged employees cost American business over $300 billion each year – roughly three times the size of the US education budget.
To summarize the matter at hand, Culture Matters.
But allow me to pose the question a different way: Does the culture of the company that manages your wealth matter?
The advisors that influence your wealth have a trusted position. Whether it’s a CPA, estate attorney, investment banker, or financial advisor, each plays a unique and sacred role with respect to your money.
I once worked at a company that went through nearly 50 mergers and acquisitions in four years. On paper and in the media, we were skyrocketing. The company website talked about an amazing culture, but behind the scenes you had a hodgepodge of people all trying to figure out their new place in a big machine with a lack of clarity as to who was leading the helm locally. It created significant disunity, distrust, and disruption. Turnover was high, passion was low, direction was unclear, and culture was nonexistent. The people who faced the greatest repercussions were the clients.
To put this in perspective, a 17 year study conducted from 1997 through 2013 concluded that the 13 public companies that have been on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list every year have outperformed the Russell 3000 and S&P 500 by roughly 300% over that same period.
What if over half of your wealth management team’s workforce isn’t contributing his or her best work? Certainly the employer might suffer due to a lack of productivity. But that lack of engagement could have serious ramifications on your experience – not just the return of your portfolio, but also the quality of advice and service you receive.
In other words, who you put your money with (not just where) matters. Just because a financial advisory firm is billing fees doesn’t mean that its people are happy. If culture has a direct effect on human performance, then it also has a direct impact your money.
Furthermore, having alignment with the culture of the trusted advisors that handle your money influences the outputs and outcomes. This is not to say that their personal values need to perfectly reflect your own. But if you care about charitable giving, and your advisors do not have alignment with charitable giving, there is a good chance you are not going to receive advice that is meaningful to you.
My wife and I make a good team when we take a vacation. We both place a high value on peace and quiet, with plenty of space in our schedule to do whatever comes to mind. We are the opposite of down-to-the-minute planners. Recently, we were chatting with another couple that was urging us to join them on an upcoming trip overseas. When this couple travels, they love to pack in every possible detail, and they plied us with an itinerary full of all the best landmarks. I’m sure it would be an amazing trip, but it didn’t speak our language. They place value on different activities than we do. And that’s OK, but we decided to save our money for a trip that better aligns with the things we care about.
Is your wealth any different? Are the things you care about fully understood and appreciated by the people serving you? Bottom line: the culture of the wealth management team that handles your assets matters.
The next time you have a meeting with one of your trusted advisors, ask them to tell you about the culture of their company:
- Are they able to share with you a culture that is synonymous with the brand they represent?
- Is their passion evident in the work they do for you?
- Do the people that work for them share that culture and passion?
- Does their vision and mission speak your language?
- Do their values align with what you care about?
If the answer is “No” to any one of these, you might consider having a deeper conversation to determine if your advisors are on the same page with you about what matters most.
Culture isn’t a “one and done” activity. It’s continual and pervasive, and the best companies spend time learning from people and organizations whose success is evident from their raving fans and devoted employees. Because culture matters.
Cale Dowell serves as Vice President for Archetype Wealth Partners and resides in Houston with his wife Lynne and their young daughter. Cale is seeking to create a paradigm shift in the way the financial services industry serves and impacts people. Archetype exists to help families thrive across generations.
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