A financial planning firm has its own inherent and unique culture that is derived from things like its management style and investment philosophies. You should make certain that you understand the company culture before you buy a firm in order to make the transition simpler for everyone.
How Do They Treat Their Clients?
Financial planning firms are like their own little ecosystems, and different ecosystems have different management styles. In some firms, the clients are treated like close family members. Junior advisors and assistants may call them by their first names, and in some cases, they may even meet for coffee or lunch to discuss changes in financial forecasts. In other companies, the clients are handled in a strict professional manner. Employees are forbidden to use first names, and any interaction outside of the workplace is more than simply frowned upon. Although both of these management styles can be effective, it is up to you to decide which type of culture you prefer.
What Do the Employees Expect?
Along those same lines, many financial planning firms differ on how they treat their employees. In some cases, firms host things like “Casual Fridays” or give away bonuses to whichever junior advisor secures the most valuable clients for the quarter. In other cases, employees are treated with – and expected to maintain – complete professionalism at all times. Once again, the employee culture depends primarily on a firm’s management style, so make sure you pay close attention. You will want to make sure that you continue to live up to the employees’ expectations long after the transition has occurred.
Close-Knit or Strictly Professional?
There are many types of financial planning firms out there. You will find some that are almost completely family-run; the father may be the head advisor and the three children may act as the junior advisors. In other financial firms, you might find that everyone is very close and they often go out for drinks and dinner once the workday closes. Finally, there are some firms in which everyone seems to keep to themselves, completely separating their personal lives from their work lives. Any of these climate types can be quite effective, but it is up to you to decide which type of climate better suits your personal philosophy.
What Are the Culture Foundations?
Different financial planning firms tend to focus on different things when they describe their overall cultures. For some, culture is all about excellence – meaning, how rich they can make their clients. For others, the culture is all about financial security and not necessarily acquiring massive amounts of wealth. Then, still others focus primarily on their overall integrity and helping their clients obtain financial security with trusted behaviors instead of bending the rules. It is important for you to think about what the image you want for yourself and your practice, then find a company with a culture in line with your own.
Discovering a company’s culture is about much more than easing the transition. It is also about making sure that you are happy with your purchase and that you can continue to grow the company long after. A company’s culture is very difficult to change once it is established, so it is necessary to ensure that your philosophies are in line.