One of the things that we work on with our owner-advisor clients is creating the “corporate culture” for their firm. At industry conferences, I frequently talk about how important it is for owners to create the “right” corporate culture for their own happiness, and to create better client services, and client experiences.
When we’re interacting with our clients, we have plenty of time to explain what we mean by “corporate culture” and answer their questions until we’re sure that they “get it.” But in presentations to large audiences, where those one-on-one conversations aren’t possible, I’ve found that many advisors have a hard time “getting” the concept. To help folks to understand what firm culture is and what it feels like, I often use us the analogy of a party. Think of your firm as a “party” you throw every day in your office—and approach it the way a professional party planner would.
My husband, Drew, is a professional chef, and he’s catered more parties than he would care to count. A you might imagine, we throw a fair number of parties ourselves. So we’ve done a lot of thinking about parties which has led me to think about the similarities between parties and independent advisory firms. Here are some of the key elements of good party, and my take on how they relate to a successful advisory business.
Parties often have themes: a costume party, a disco party, a ‘60s party, a Super Bowl party, a Christmas party, etc. Think of your firm as a “taking care of clients” party. Your employees probably won’t need to bring anything except themselves and perhaps lunch and some snacks. And you’ll need to provide them with everything they need to participate in your party: computers, training, motivation, compensation, etc. (Yes, sadly, you have to pay people to come to your work party.)
A good host invites people who you think will enjoy each other. And sometimes we invite specific people who we think will be interesting or entertaining: You consider who will get along with whom, and sometimes you have people you want to introduce because you think they’d like each other. The same is true of our staff: people who are compatible, who like each other, and who bring a mix of skills to your “party” will be a lot more productive—and better with your clients.