Knowing your mission is easily one of the most critical components to running a successful advisory firm. I want to talk to you about how to find your mission, how your mission helps with management, and how having a mission makes it easier to recruit talent that’s passionate about the same goals you are.
How CX Institutional Was Founded
My partner and CEO of CX Institutional, David Hefty and Stacy Hefty, who’s the president of our firm, started their career in financial services like a lot of people; right out of high school and they started with a firm that everybody has heard of.
They started selling municipal bonds and mutual funds, going door-to-door, and seeing if people were interested in maybe buying a mini-bond, or getting a mutual fund or a Roth IRA started. Soon, they discovered that they wanted to be more focused on the clients instead of the product. After some time, they left the firm where they had originally started and founded their own firm, Hefty Wealth Partners in Auburn, Indiana.
Over the years, David and Stacy did a great job of building a really wonderful firm, that’s very client-centric. They built up staff, so they could really take good care of their clients. Ultimately, their team developed a really robust client service experience that was attractive to clients, and attractive to other financial advisors.
They built this wonderful, integrated experience of great client service with financial planning, great investment management, and supported all that and made it all happen, kept the train on the tracks with an integrated technology stack that they spent a lot of time and money and effort developing. My partner, Dennis Kehoe, and I had started Oak Point Financial Group in 2010, about the same time that Hefty Wealth Partners started its own RIA. Oak Point Financial Group was an RIA and Hefty Wealth Partners was an RIA. I was about a decade into my financial services career when I gave a breakout speech at a conference. David and I connected during the event, and kept in touch over the years, getting to know one another better.
Several years later, I felt compelled to reach out to David. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how he set up his client experience, and how his staff was able to reflect their firm’s mission when interacting together and with clients. It took many conversations, but eventually, Oak Point Financial Group became the first RIA to sign on with Hefty Wealth Partners offering that they called Crescendo Max -an ensemble-style RIA.
After a short time, I started to ask David for more collaboration. I wanted some help with compliance, hiring, and managing our team. Together, we looked at ways to make that happen. It became clear that we needed to become a single RIA.
Creating a Joint Mission: The Benefits
As you can imagine, combining firms doesn’t mean that you’ve got everything figured out right off the bat. Early into the process of putting our firms together, David wanted to share what he perceived to be the mission of the firm. I loved it and was so glad he was able to share what was on his heart.
I encouraged him to share it with the whole team. What we’ve adopted as our mission is that it’s our firm’s mission to guide clients throughout life’s most important financial events, with service and expertise above and beyond the clients’ expectations.
Everybody on the team, from people who greet clients at the front door, to compliance officers, to wealth partners all have embraced that’s our mission. Knowing our shared mission has helped our team stay organized, and conduct business in a way that lives into our values. When you become mission-focused as an individual and a team, all of your decisions are filtered through the mission you share. It helps you prioritize and filter ideas, tasks, and opportunities.
Perhaps most importantly, your mission drives how your team chooses to grow. Without having a clear mission about why your firm is doing what it’s doing, growth can feel greedy. Depending on how you grew up, most of us don’t think greed is good. Gordon Gekko notwithstanding, not everybody thinks greed is good.
If the focus is not on personal enrichment, but on serving more people, serving more American households with great service, your mission guides your growth. You and your team make growth-minded decisions that are filtered through your mission, not personal gain or greed.
Creating a joint mission has other benefits, as well. For example, hiring through the lens of your mission helps you put the right people in the right roles. Everyone is clear about our mission, and we hire individuals who want to help us further that vision. Our mission also clarifies how we communicate, both with clients and one another.
Giving feedback and praise can be more actionable when it’s filtered through your mission. For example, if you can tell someone they did a great job, but it’s generic praise. Outlining that you’re proud of someone for taking the time to go above and beyond to serve a specific client because you believe it truly made an impact, that’s actionable praise.
Discern -Don’t Decide -Your Mission
Too often, I see firm owners decide on their mission statement. They write something that resonates with them, and that they think will connect with their clients. Instead, I encourage you to discern your mission statement. Wondering what that looks like? You can follow a few steps to get started:
1. Think about what you love about your work.
2. Ask yourself what your clients thank you for.
3. Self-assess your actions -what do you enjoy doing when working with clients?
Following these steps can help you to determine what your firm does, and does well -which will get you close to your mission!