Webinar Highlights: Building An Elite Culture For Your Wealth Practice

Posted: June 18, 2024

Hands passing a seedling to the next person

Many people within financial services like to think this industry is unique. Like on a faraway island, you-just-could-not-possibly-understand-us kind of unique. In my opinion, thinking like this helps explain why we see so much insular recruiting of talent, bespoke tech stack building, and overly complex investment models.

While there certainly are unique attributes about our industry, too much “we are different” thinking carries risk. We risk missing out on hiring great people, finding lower-cost solutions to our businesses’ product and service needs, and remaining approachable to the masses.

I was reminded of how our businesses can benefit when we are open to ideas and people from outside our industry when Blueprint Investment Partners hosted a webinar with Dr. Eric Downing last month. Downing has more than 35 years of leadership and development experience in both military and corporate roles – and I believe his philosophy about building an elite performance culture readily applies to a wealth practice.

Downing is Founder and President of Proven Paradigm Consulting, and during our webinar he shared the five characteristics he believes comprise elite cultures:

  1. Understanding people’s motivations
  2. Building trust
  3. Developing communication skills
  4. Embracing risk
  5. Identifying barriers to execution

The First Rule of Fight Club (I Mean Culture Club)

Downing explained why he believes understanding your team members’ inherent motivations is the most important of the five characteristics of high-performing teams.

From his experience working with teams of varied sizes – from two-member shops to giant corporations – and across equally diverse industries, he has observed that most leaders have a poor understanding of what motivates their people. 

Inherent motivation is an element of someone’s core character. It explains what motivates them in work, hobbies, and relationships. For example, some people are driven to affiliate with companies, causes, and people they feel passionate about. Others are motivated by competition. 

Understanding your team’s inherent motivations allows you to tailor your mission and leadership style to appeal to those drivers.  

A Paradigm Shift: Granting Trust, Not Earning It

Most of us are socialized to believe that trust is earned. 

Downing noted a problem with this approach. It essentially results in each member of your team running around with a personalized invisible scorecard. There is no transparency about what you need to do to earn Joe’s trust, and Sally may have a different set of criteria. 

The alternative is a principle of granting trust, which Downing believes is the key characteristic of elite, successful businesses.

Culture By Design vs. Culture By Default

Having a good company culture is something to celebrate. Yet, in the same breath Downing emphasized a distinction between good by default and good by design.

Good by default cultures are often inherited. A foundation was created by past performance-building work, previous success the team achieved, or stewardship of a strong leader. And the culture keeps humming. 

On the other hand, good by design cultures are ones where current leaders are intentional about where the culture is today, where they desire the culture to be in the future, and the actions that will be taken to traverse the distance between those two points.

Even good by default cultures can benefit from shifting to a good-by-design mindset, Downing shared. Such a focus can help organizations improve and strengthen into an ecosystem where people more readily flourish.

Looking for More?

Downing has made a career out of coaching businesses to develop and enhance an elite performance culture. His website may be a good resource for you.

Additionally, feel free to reach out to Blueprint Investment Partners to discuss the practice management services we offer to our financial advisor partners.

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If you'd like to discuss the practice management services Blueprint Investment Partners offers to our financial advisors partners