As appeared in the May 22, 2016 “Business Insight Section” of The Facts Newspaper (Lake Jackson, TX)
Distinguishing Ourselves from the Competition
After a brief break, The Facts Reporter Andy Packard visited again with Gary Foose, Giovanna Swisher and Matt Rickaway, with Robert W. Baird & Co. in Lake Jackson.
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Andy – Congratulations, I see for the 13th consecutive year, Baird has earned recognition among the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. Baird ranks No. 6 on the 2016 list, marking its third straight year in the top 10. What makes Baird rank so high?
Gary – Thanks, Andy. We are proud and humbled by the recognition. FORTUNE magazine partners with the Great Place to Work Institute each year to evaluate applicants and recognize the 100 Best Companies. “This year’s 100 best workplaces show – again – that trust fuels financial performance,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Great workplaces have significantly less turnover, outperform peers in the stock market and enjoy high levels of collaboration, communication and trust – crucial ingredients to innovation. The 100 best are setting the standard for all businesses.”
Andy – Accolades are nice but what does it actually look like in practice? How does Baird and therefore you distinguish yourselves from other financial advisors?
Giovanna – The financial industry has been changing tremendously over the last few years. Even with the advent of various on-line apps and “robo” options it is more difficult for the average person to navigate the complexities of all the investment options and strategies out there. While “robo” options might work for some simple basics, I see the real need for personal, customized financial education and advice. It all comes down to relationships, demonstrating to our clients that our recommendations are aimed at helping them reach their goals through credibility, consistency, and connection.
Andy – Let’s explore those attributes-credibility, consistency, and connection.
Gary – Credibility is the quality of being trusted, and having experience and credentials in what you do. We recognize we are in an increasingly commoditized business and most financial advisors might all look the same on the surface. Our job is to distinguish ourselves based on trusted advice, exceptional service and working for a firm that lets us do all of this in a way that works best for our clients.
I have been advising clients for 35 years. I have been a branch manager and I am an arbitrator for FINRA. Giovanna has been in the business for 13 years and holds her Certified Financial Planner® certification since 2006. Matt has been in the business since 2008 and holds his Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® designation. That is over 50 years of combined experience advising families, small businesses and executives.
Giovanna – Consistency is being reliable in communications, reporting and procedures. It is about how we communicate with our clients. I believe I can speak for all three of us when I say we have a genuine passion to help people and to make them feel confident and in control of their finances. We each make it a priority to return phone calls promptly. Oftentimes we are the ones answering the calls not having them screened through our receptionist or voice mail first. We spend time educating clients and keeping them in the loop as to what is going on in the markets and their accounts. We distinguish ourselves by listening, promptly responding to client communications and being available for meetings. We are proactive. More often than not we are the ones initiating the phone call or email.
Matt – Sometimes we are just checking in to see how they are doing personally. Clients have to feel their advisor is approachable, that they are not just another account number. That is the Connection. Connection is engaging the client to address their true financial objectives, hopes and fears. We have found that most clients are not looking for financial products or sales presentations. They are seeking objective advice – desiring a disciplined process that leads to a solid plan. For instance, when we sit down to talk to someone who is retiring the first question each of us ask is, “How do you define ‘retire’?” That looks different for everyone. So the solutions are different. We all three are driven by a genuine passion for creating great outcomes in clients’ lives and a deep desire to help them achieve the things they want for themselves and the people they care about. Clients may be facing major life changes such as a death of a spouse or parent or they may be facing a divorce. They need someone “with skin and a caring heartbeat” to objectively guide them so they won’t make emotional financial mistakes. That is the “value” we bring. We are here for our clients and for our client’s family.
Gary – Andy, in a nutshell we distinguish ourselves by knowing our clients, keeping abreast of issues that could impact them, controlling fees, minimizing taxes, owning the same investments as our clients. We take time to educate our clients about their investments. We show them how their decisions and investment choices align with their desired goals. Our passion is helping people pursue their dreams. Seeing clients achieve those milestones is the most gratifying part of our job.
I want to give you an example of one of our relationships. I helped a man and his wife retire from Valero Energy in Corpus Christi 30 years ago. When I moved to Lake Jackson 27 years ago they continued to use me as their financial advisor. They moved to Okmulgee OK and after 5 years, she called to inform me he had passed away on the golf course. I visited with her to get the necessary paperwork done. She shared with me that she was keeping me as her advisor because her husband trusted me and she trusted me. Years later she remarried and then passed away from a bout with cancer. Today her daughter is still my client because she said “Dad trusted you, Mom trusted and I trust you”. She now lives in North Carolina. The relationships we build are meant to least.
Andy – Thank you. I can see where having a true trusted financial relationship can make all the difference.
Gary – Andy, we thank you for helping our local community better understand who we are and what we do. You are welcome in our office any time (BBVA Compass Bank Building, Suite 250 Lake Jackson). Each of us is on LinkedIn. Gary and Giovanna’s website is GaryFooseBaird.com and Matthew’s website is mattrickawaybaird.com. We do retirement plan reviews and second opinion portfolio reviews at no cost or obligation.
We want to say THANK YOU to those serving in the armed services and remember those who gave their life for our freedom. Happy Memorial Day!
We learn for 30 years; we labor for 30 years and we “live” for 30 years. How do you define “live”?