“Dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as ‘suits.’” – Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator
Casual Fridays are considered a workweek staple across most industries. Some companies have even taken it a step further and forsaken formal business attire altogether in favor of a more laid-back, business casual dress code. One industry is still largely absent from this shift in company culture, though: the finance industry, which remains firmly buttoned down.
Where Formal Wear in Finance Goes Wrong
The majority of financial advisory firms are uptight both in what they wear and how they conduct their practice. In today’s modern business landscape, the suit and tie represents more than just the standard company dress code. They are a symbol of all that is traditional, confined and slow-moving in workplace ideals. Many financial firms hold onto these traditional values and practices, and these seemingly trivial decisions bleed into the company culture.
Business formal is essentially the school uniform of the workforce — it tries to force individuals to mold themselves into a high-heel, high-collar cookie cutter mold. The bottom line is nobody wants to wear a uniform. For firms still preoccupied with dressing like an episode of Mad Men, if they can’t loosen up their ties, they will have to deal with the negative impact the high-strung attire can have on advisors’ morale and long-term growth. Outdated firms like this will have trouble attracting new talent and retaining the advisors they already have.
The benefits of dressing down translate not only to a more positive employee experience, but a better workplace environment. Casual Fridays were originally introduced to boost worker sentiment among cynical white-collar workers during the 1980s and early 1990s, and more and more employers and workers today are coming out with claims that dressing more casually at work actually makes employees more productive and boosts morale. Reports have shown that less formal workwear improves employee morale, worker productivity and work quality, as well as opens more communication between staff and managers — all at no cost to the employer.
The impact of business wear isn’t limited to the people who work at a company, either.