Attracting culturally aligned firms

Attracting culturally aligned firms

Attracting culturally aligned firms 150 150 Todd Clifford

Given all the changes currently happening in our industry, I wanted to take a few moments to be very transparent about why we’ve acquired firms in the past, and why we may continue to acquire firms over the next 12-18 months.

The big picture is we see a huge opportunity to improve the financial advice industry. Many people across the country have mixed experiences with financial advice. But when you see the impact of great advice, there’s no doubt it has the ability to change lives.

Really understanding people to help them live the life they choose doesn’t sound like rocket science. But when you actually deliver on this promise, the experience can be transformational.

“How can I get back to doing what I love?”

Given what’s happening in the industry, we think it will be harder for small businesses to deliver a great experience for their clients into the future. No advisor is an expert in everything, and we’re in a market where the regulations and costs of doing business are increasing.

As a result, we believe that a larger business full of talented people will prosper into the future. You simply can’t be everything to everyone, and the reality is that some people are better at some roles than others.

In smaller firms you often find yourself doing everything – including things you’re not passionate about. A larger firm gives people an opportunity to play to their areas of strength. From my perspective, the best thing about joining Viridian was getting back on the tools and doing more client facing work – that’s what I get a real thrill from.

We’re hearing the same sentiment from a lot of fantastic advisors and firms across the industry: “How can I get back to doing what I love”.

When we meet great businesses, there’s often a natural fit. The conversations can now lead somewhere. They benefit from being able to leverage the capabilities we’ve built across Viridian. Viridian and our clients benefit from more specialised expertise and people who share our values but bring further diversity.

Creating the win-win

Acquisition is a pretty strong word – it implies there’s a winner and a loser. But when Viridian acquires firms, we think it creates a better experience for the clients and staff on both sides of the equation. This is what happened when Zest Wealth Advisors (my old business) joined Viridian last year.

Critical to what we look for is a strong culture. This isn’t necessarily about something said – it’s about behaviours. We want to engage with firms that are energetic and aspirational.  We need people that are going to contribute to culture in a positive sense.

We want to know whether they can contribute to a broader business. Are they aligned with our purpose? Is there evidence that they work to deeply understand their clients? What role can they play in the future? How can they focus on their strengths and leverage ours. These are some of the questions we ask before considering acquiring a firm.

When I first met with Glenn (Viridian’s CEO), I could see that the merged entity would be better for our client base, our staff and our future. For us, it was a step up – not a step out – coming to Viridian. We both wanted to understand our clients deeply and help them to make choices about their own future. We both wanted to create a business that we could be proud of.

Over the past months we’ve delivered on this vision to create even better outcomes for our clients. We’re providing them with more choice and access to better solutions. Talented people are meeting clients to understand them on a deeper level. Our staff are working in more technical roles that focus on their area of expertise and passion. The outcome is a better understanding and engagement.

Finally, the feedback from clients has been that they want to be part of our journey – they want to see our business do well into the future. When our clients see that we’re passionate about creating a business that will still be here with them in 15-20 years I think it excites them. We’re excited to create a better business for everyone.

Todd Clifford is General Manager Viridian Select

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