Culture is everything: the 3 key strategies to building a powerful brand
‘Culture’ has become a defining word in financial services. Andrew Forrest from Investec Wealth & Investment discusses why successful firms have elevated culture to the very top of their business priorities.
Through implementing an extensive range of processes, responsibilities and aspirations with a view to fostering a client-centric, transparent but also growth-driven enterprise, today's successful firms have elevated culture to the top of their priorities.
While recent regulation is playing a part in this narrative – most recently in the form of MiFID II and GDPR, both of which broadly look to promote better transparency and client communications – financial services firms themselves are focused on building corporate cultures that positively differentiate them in the market and, therefore, drive new business.
For Investec Wealth & Investment this is encapsulated in our tagline, “out of the ordinary”.
When developing our own corporate culture, we worked down from the top. What is the most important attribute for a wealth manager to have? What do clients look for, and expect, from their investment partner?
For us, reputation is everything. And reputation is created and defined by the conduct and performance of every individual at the firm.
1. The brand is in our hands
We try to promote a culture in which all of our employees realise that the brand is in our hands. From deal-making, product creation and service delivery, from answering the phone to general housekeeping, from the look, feel and utility of all our communication collateral, the quality of client events – everywhere, the buck stops with our staff.
We have found that such a reputation-centric culture can deliver exceptional client outcomes. It also creates a business that is open, transparent and one that talented people want to work for. And while culture is important, we feel passionately that the corporate environment it shapes should not hinder the potential for our employees to outperform.
We have sought to encourage and nurture a culture that empowers our staff to perform in ‘out of the ordinary’ ways.
Investec Wealth & Investment has sought to encourage and nurture a culture that empowers our staff to perform in ‘out of the ordinary’ ways, creating an environment for people who are entrepreneurial free thinkers, have a can-do mindset, and who will deliver performance with a social conscience.
In the competitive wealth management market, it is important to be differentiated. We do not want to fit into a financial services stereotype, and much of our cultural messaging and values reflects this:
- Investec challenges the status quo. We are neither establishment, nor conformists.
- Investec has a can-do attitude and brings fresh thinking to the table.
- Investec creates an informal and liberating environment that encourages an entrepreneurial culture.
- Investec arrives at the answers others might not have considered and often delivers the unexpected.
We have developed a strong organisational culture of entrenched values, which form the cornerstone of our behaviour towards all stakeholders. Our culture of open and honest dialogue encourages trust between colleagues and management. The organisational development team works to strengthen the culture of the business, ensure our values are lived, build capability and contribute to the long term sustainability of the group.
2. Our culture is our people
It is the passion and dedication of our people that helps us to deliver what we believe to be a superior level of client service and, therefore, value for all our stakeholders. Ultimately, our culture is our people.
So what does a successful culture look like for Investec Wealth & Investment? We think the following four aspirational objectives summarise how we feel:
- When ambitious, energetic and fresh thinkers feel that they are missing out by not working for us.
- When clients are our best advocates.
- When employees cannot stop promoting Investec Wealth & Investment.
- When people and organisations feel that they are disadvantaged by not doing business with us.
The good news for us that feedback from clients shows that these objectives are being met. Investec Wealth & Investment conducts a biennial private client satisfaction survey.
3. Values that drive us forward
The most recent one, conducted independently by consultant MDRC in H2 2016, found among other things that 75% would be likely to recommend us (scored seven or higher on a 10-point score) while 93% said they believe their portfolio manager understands their financial objectives (scored seven or higher), with 36% giving a maximum 10 score.
These results placed Investec Wealth & Investment in the very top of the UK wealth management sector in terms of client service.
Aiming to build an outstanding culture is something Investec Wealth & Investment has been doing long before recent regulatory changes. A strong and positive culture has been imbedded in the business since we were created, and been a primary factor in our success. It has also been key in the smooth integration of the various businesses over the years that have come together to form Investec Wealth & Investment.
Delivering competitive, long-term and risk-adjusted investment out performance is the most valuable service that we look to provide for our clients. But it is clear that you need to create an environment that reaches this end point, and this goes to the very heart of corporate culture and the values that drive us forward.
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This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.