Clarity And Focus For A Financial Firm
A wealth-management firm prided themselves with being well organized. Living in the highly regulated world of personal finance demands impeccable record keeping, timely reporting and adherence to strict compliance procedures. But although they executed well they lacked clarity and organizational focus.
As the stock market steamed ahead their business grew steadily during the late 1990's, but as things got tougher in 2000, they realized that their only marketing plan was to answer the phone before the third ring! When the stock market tumbled in 2000 and then fell harder in 2001 and again in 2002, clients grew weary of market-based returns. The morale of staff was declining due to the demands from clients who just wanted some 'shelter from the storm'. It was a trying period and they knew they needed to change from the inside out.
Work of Best Year Yet®
We began to work with this firm in early 2002 by bringing the key people together for a communicating and planning session. They felt it was tough work discussing their lessons and examining how they held themselves back. Making the shift to a new paradigm was especially hard for a group of self-professed missionaries not accustomed to 'tooting their own horn'.
From a list of over 60 priorities, the Best Year Yet® Program Leader made them cull it down and gain alignment on their ten top priorities and a major focus for the year. But it wasn't easy. Operations staff had their vested interests in how work was being done. Relationship Managers wanted to spend time defining what we were doing for clients. Administration was interested in answering when questions to ensure that services were being done in a timely manner, and Management wanted to be sure that who we were serving were the right clients in the right markets. But they did it.
In that first year not everyone was enthusiastic and committed. Some felt it was a fad they were going to endure until it was over.
They had a celebration at their retreat at the end of 2002. They all knew they had tackled and completed some significant projects and they'd done it in a demanding year. They had been forced to endure the third consecutive year of a downward stock market and they'd done it anyway. By then they knew that Best Year Yet was in some respects a stabilizer in the face of some relentless 'whitewater rapids'.
In the second year of Best Year Yet® they started to attract new clients and most of their existing clients gave a collective sigh of relief as portfolios gained value. They were ready for growth because they had built bench strength during 2002 and in 2003 had examined and improved their operations, administration, and organizational structure.
In their third year they knew that they had found a system that made them focus on the main results they wanted and needed to strengthen their business. They are realizing that continuous change is the norm and that helps them embrace that reality and adapt to change as the way to grow. They are delegating more so that everyone is working at their highest productivity level, and meetings are more efficient with proper agendas and defined time lines.
Their Chief Financial Partner says, "While the work pace seems faster now, each member on the team has clarity and direction. Everyone is professionally challenged with broader accountabilities and more clearly articulated development opportunities. Management has introduced a new bonus structure to reward all staff equally for new business growth, helping us to celebrate together as we prosper. Collectively, this is fostering a renewed sense of team, maintaining our focus on our highest priorities and fostering a high level of accountability to meet our goals."