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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

Cambridge’s Amy Webber on Leadership and the Shrinking Labor Market

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As CEO and president of Cambridge Investment Research in Fairfield, Iowa, Amy Webber uses her more than 30 years of experience to lead innovation with the support of the rest of the firm’s leaders and input from financial professionals themselves.

Webber joined Cambridge in 1998 and has been a prominent voice on important issues like serving next-gen clients and recruiting young advisors, advancing women in the industry, and otherwise championing diversity and inclusion.

She also actively supports regulation changes to boost independent, objective financial advice.

Via email, we asked a series of questions that touched on not only her professional knowledge but what she does off the clock as well.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now, and why?

Amy Webber: There are many. That said, in this competitive environment, any information on the labor market is a priority. It is undeniable that the labor pool is shrinking, and this is particularly challenging in our industry due to the high relationship component.

At Cambridge, in order for us to thrive and preserve our culture, we work to focus on employee satisfaction, understanding the reasons behind any employee attrition, and continuing to innovate.

Much of the solution will lie in our investments in digital transformation. We will look to move more nonvalue-added tasks to a tech solution while maximizing the job skills our candidates and current associates have and use.

We must embrace hiring strategies focused around nontraditional skills and fit versus only experience and constantly reassess employee benefits that help our associates grow and change in order to thrive in today’s environment.

All of this also directly correlates to delivering world-class experiences for our clients — our financial professionals — as it remains true that satisfied associates equate to satisfied clients.

2. How has it been changing recently (2021), and how do you expect it to change (2022)?

The demand to focus on employees and change leads us to aggressively seek increased operational efficiency by leveraging tools around continuous improvement and change management. Accelerating specific digital transformative opportunities through initiatives in AI and robotics will also be key.

3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?

Cambridge’s digital transformative solutions to achieve increased operational efficiency will extend to our financial professionals, giving them the ability to leverage those solutions within their own organizations.

This will create a preferred path of doing business that, when followed, could significantly impact cost reduction and a higher level of satisfaction. Adapting to change and adopting a preferred path will have the biggest impact on their businesses in the future.

4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?

On the overall industry landscape, I leverage our industry publications as well as resources from our various regulators and trade organizations. I really value the time I spend learning directly from our financial professionals on what is impacting them and their clients.

On the specific issue of the labor market and related issues, we use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics along with compensation data from our compensation vendor, Payscale, that integrates Mercer comp data. We augment that with data from as needed. I also personally find great value in reading Harvard Business Review and exploring the insights of

5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?

The pandemic has changed so many things, especially how we communicate effectively in a more virtual environment. The overall trends with the increase in remote work, and the simplicity of virtual meetings, means fewer opportunities for the more personal connections.

I think it is challenging for us in the financial services industry because we are, ultimately, in a relationship business. I’ve tried to find effective ways to lead virtually on a much broader level than in the past.

This includes finding ways to ensure active engagement with remote associates, ensure the entire company stays connected, and keep a pulse check on how people are feeling both inside and outside of Cambridge.

Personally, I like to attend meetings in person as much as possible. Here at Cambridge, tools such as engagement journeys with our financial professionals and associates, as well as pulse surveys, have really helped us stay connected from a culture perspective.

We’ve had to focus on more effective communications with our financial professionals given that many events have navigated to a combination of in-person and virtual.

6. What’s your biggest hobby, and what was the last event/activity you did related to it?

I ventured into scuba diving with my daughter in 2019, and it quickly became a favorite hobby. It’s very peaceful under the ocean! Everyone who knows me knows I like a challenge, and diving is both challenging and fulfilling. The pandemic may have slowed my progress, but I look forward to more underwater adventures!

7. How about your latest community/charitable activity/event/cause?

My role as a Board of Trustees member for our local community college has been extremely fulfilling over the last few years. It is inspiring to see more employers recognizing significant talent within young adults that may not be a best fit for an advanced degree journey. I feel this perspective is critical to our industry and can help achieve greater diversity within our firms.

Every year our firm chooses a charity to support in coordination with our national conference, Ignite. It is an important opportunity to show our collective, charitable strength for a local cause in the city that welcomes us.

In 2021, I was highly supportive of our firm’s overall efforts to support the Jordan Thomas Foundation, which provides children affected by limb loss with the prostheses they need throughout their growing years.

Cambridge presented the Jordan Thomas Foundation with a check for $134,070, which was record-setting for us, and the amount continues to grow as Cambridge provides a funding match through the Cambridge Foundation for qualified requests from Cambridge associates and independent financial professionals.

8. What book are you reading now, and why?

Our entire Executive Council is reading Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. This is part of a workshop our leaders are participating in through Franklin Covey.

Simply put, as leaders, we all have the ability to act as either multipliers or diminishers. When we act as multipliers, we “multiply” productivity and engagement within our teams exponentially. The research behind the multipliers concept is really powerful.

I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership role.

9. Is there any other update/fact about you or a piece of advice/wisdom you’d like to share with our advisor audience? 

More than ever, in my 34-year career, I am realizing the value of my crisis management skills. As leaders of organizations of all shapes and sizes, we should continue to expect disruptions, embrace adaptation, and seek a balanced approach to our decisions, considering the well-being of all of the various constituencies that rely on us.

It is our responsibility — through the turmoil presented by the labor shortage, market conditions, rising interest rates, inflation and supply chain pressure just to name a few — to remain calm and clear. This is no small task, so we must also give ourselves grace and ensure we are surrounding ourselves with those that share our common values.


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