When Raymond James & Associates recently named Dave Hilgendorf its Branch Manager of the Year, it didn’t surprise those who work closest with him.
He’s known for his team-building abilities, an inspired management style and, as a producer himself, Hilgendorf plays in the same sandbox as the advisors he manages.
As his regional director, Bill Roney, notes: “We don’t believe in the field of dreams theory: If you build it they will come. If you have the right leader in a given market, whether it’s large or small, you can make magic, so to speak.”
Hilgendorf, who manages the Grand Rapids, Mich., branch, apparently made magic last year. The firm’s senior management group selected the 51-year-old Hilgendorf from a field of over 150 branch managers at the close of one of the most challenging years in market history.
In the decade he has managed the branch, Hilgendorf has worked to create a family-friendly environment where, he says: “We have high expectations for everybody, but not any higher than what they have for themselves.” Early in his career, Hilgendorf says he often felt like little more than a number — a culture he has taken great care not to replicate.
“From the beginning, I wanted to know these people on a personal level. I wanted them to know I was their friend. I wanted to develop trust between us. It’s not about the almighty number,” adds Hilgendorf, who oversees 16 financial advisors and 12 support staff with $1.3 billion in assets under management. “I just felt there had to be better ways to support brokers than what I’d been getting.”
In some measure, Hilgendorf treats the branch like a team — particularly when it comes to staff, who often back each other up. As for the advisors, he says: “We all want to do well by our clients. We share ideas. We cover for each other if someone is out. It’s not cutthroat at all. Treat everyone as a big team; we all win.”
“We have fostered more of a family approach,” he explains. “If you want to watch your kid play soccer at 3:00, I don’t care. I think you should be with your family. It’s a work hard-play hard philosophy.”
Hilgendorf is also big on reward. He routinely recognizes outstanding performance with appreciation lunches, plaques, flowers, cakes and gift cards. On a biweekly basis, he holds a “Did You Know?” quiz, an opportunity for staff to share something efficient they’ve learned [useful contacts, for example] with their peers. The person who comes up with the most entries at the end of each quarter wins a gift certificate. Hilgendorf also gives an “Uptick Award” to advisors who boost their annual gross production 10 percent or more.