The Fundamentals of Creating Excellence in an RIA

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Excellent brands are only possible by subscribing to excellence. Each powerful brand and company that has made their mark has done so with vigorous language of excellence and then vigorous implementation of that intention! It’s no different in an RIA.

In an RIA the magic happens within the culture with a team that is aligned with a mission statement of excellence (language of excellence) and a highly intelligent service offering that aligns with the excellence that high-net-worth clients can clearly identify is worthy of their business and trust.

Branding and scaling an excellent RIA consists of many fundamentals. Here are a few considerations to look at.

Culture. This word, “culture” gets tossed around so much, most of us are sick of that word. So, what is there to say about it in 2024?

Every single firm and company has a culture. You may not be aware or focused on what the culture of your company or RIA is, but it’s still there; it’s inescapable. How do you shape and mold it? 

Over a decade of experience between multiple RIA firms, I am asserting that an RIA’s culture will absolutely determine the success of a group – the demise or stagnancy of a group.

What or how are you creating your culture? Do you even know where to look? Here are some suggestions:

What is your culture of listening like? What could possibly be upgraded or trained there? It’s just listening. Isn’t all listening the same? Absolutely not! Our team has spent many days absorbing training and coaching on powerful listening. There is a whole world that exists around the world of listening and most people never discover the power of intentional, powerful listening.

Are you willing to look at breakdowns? How do you look at breakdowns? How does your team look at them? What does the communication around breakdowns look like for your team / culture? There are way too many professional companies that have little training on this, thus the outcome is finger pointing and backbiting. That is a real problem!

What if your culture around breakdowns was having the opportunity to discover something that could be optimized in your business? What if everyone took on that they are responsible for a breakdown and no one needed to be stoned or whipped? What if everyone took on such a responsible level of accountability that it wasn’t a problem to step forward and say, “I am primarily responsible for that breakdown.”

Have you created an environment of open and respectful communication? This means being willing to have conversations (not stepping over conversations that need to be had) and being willing to hear what your team is dealing with or sitting in.

What is it like meeting with you? What are people left with after a conversation or interaction with you? This isn’t to say team members should “like you” or be your friend, but powerful leaders lead powerful conversations that leave people feeling fortified, empowered and settled. Bosses and bullies leave people feeling intimidated, small or dismantled in conversations.

Does your team know they can take time off with any retribution or conflict? This one may seem insignificant, but it’s important. Your team needs to know that you value them taking time off. Don’t fake it, everyone can tell if you are bothered by your team taking time off. Deal with whatever you need to, to get on the other side of your issue if you can’t sincerely be happy for your team members taking time off.

Create boundaries for your team. My wife worked for a team here in Utah that would call, text or email her until late at night or early in the morning, almost every day. That wasn’t in the original job description, it just became part of the culture over time. If your company is constantly dealing with fire drills, it’s time to make adjustments and get organized. There are few faster ways to burn a team member out than having them take work home incessantly.

Here are a couple additional points to consider as you build your RIA.

Self-Development. Very few leaders and business owners spend enough time clearly defining, implementing or upgrading elements of our culture. I can say for sure that at various stages of my leadership that I was not doing as much as I should have been to lift my leadership, to a place where I could then lift my teams.

Greg Black

I was thrilled to start working with Tencap Wealth Coaching because of the culture that our founder, Greg Black, created – which was a culture of self-development. I had worked in the financial planning business for over a decade before I met Greg. I had grown the last firm I was the CEO of, to close to a billion in AUM. However, even though I knew success in this space, I can tell you that the leadership and culture that Greg had created on the back of self-development was significantly more powerful than what I had been able to create in the absence of a priority and training in self-development. Keep getting coached, keep training and developing.

Accountability. Remember, as a business owner, manager or leader, we either created it or we are allowing it. Let me say that again, you either created it or you are allowing it. Let that sink in. It really speaks to the level of accountability that exists in leadership. You do not get to blame anyone else for how it is going, you get to sit right in the middle of what you created or are allowing. So, how’s it going? What are you doing? What are you not doing?

Be a strong stand for your values and culture. What do I mean by that? I mean that many leaders and business owners have the best of intentions. That’s simply not enough. Hell, I have hundreds of amazing intentions! If it counted to have amazing intentions we would all be successful, fit and have functional vivacious relationships all around us.

It’s not enough to have great intentions. Excellence in a company is the applied reality of how your core values, attributes and culture are actually showing up in your business. Creating and articulating your values is great, it’s just not enough.

The way a team acts, the way a team responds is all determined by what you have created, displayed and trained on. Additionally, consider what is being monitored and measured. If leaders allow slippage in their deployment or implementation, you can count on excellence to transition to casualness.

I’ll wrap up with this last assertion. This may be the most important; the highest form of love in business is consideration. There are two types of leaders, a considerate leader and an inconsiderate leader. There is no way to fake one or the other, it’s completely transparent in everything we say and do. A considerate leader holds you in regard when making decisions or rendering coaching. Don’t confuse my words, I’m not suggesting leaders need to be “nice.” Nice doesn’t build anything, nice doesn’t hold any weight or stimulate growth. Nice is for playgrounds and theme parks. Nice is nearly irrelevant in the business world. If you want to have a group of people around you that would follow you anywhere – be a considerate leader.

Lead with strength, lead with consideration, savvy fundamentals, empowering culture and level up on your self-development and you can transform your leadership and the companies you are building.

Photo of Joe Griffin
Joe Griffin
CEO Tencap Wealth Coaching

Joe has been building and managing financial planning firms for the past 13 years. He loves the financial planning space and is very proud of the success and growth that has come from his proprietary marketing and leadership. Joe spent years being involved with the bright minds of the investment committee at Utah’s 529 college savings plan – a plan managing over 20 billion. Joe only works with firms that are stated fiduciaries on a client relationship. Joe is committed to leading a financial planning firm with ethics and integrity.  The money management philosophy that Tencap subscribes to is built on strong academics and is supported by a highly impressive academic board. We can't wait to coach you on the excellence that Tencap stands for.

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