Financial advisors seeking an environment ripe for personal and professional growth should look first into the company culture.
While the benefits of culture won’t necessarily show up on balance sheets, studies show that a financial firm’s culture is critical for setting advisors up to be leaders in the industry and more successful in their role.
A strong culture contributes to a firm’s identity by showcasing the values by which its professionals live and work. Consumers think more highly of firms that put their values into practice outside of the workplace, and employees want to work for those companies. In fact, a company’s social and environmental commitments are a deciding factor for 64% of millennials when choosing a workplace.
Living M’s Values
M Financial’s core values of leadership and advocacy are well reflected in its engagement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Not only does M provide annual support and have corporate executives on the board, but over the past three years, it has participated in Beyond School Walls, the Big Brothers Big Sisters in-house sponsored mentoring program.
Little Brothers and Sisters meet with The Bigs from M.
“The employees who participate in this program are forever changed by it,” said Hope Alabi, M’s Director of Client Operations, Diversity, and Inclusion. “Twice per month, the Little Brothers and Sisters come to our corporate offices to meet, have lunch, and learn life skills with a mentor they have been paired with. Our mentors, who we call the Bigs, find it extremely rewarding. Each session is an opportunity to bring your whole self to work.
“It’s also very satisfying to be part of something that makes a huge and tangible difference in the community,” she continued. “Oregon’s current high school graduation rate is 74%. Our local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization helps over 450 kids a year overcome the odds. The graduation rate for those in the program is 98%! Through our support, we’re helping to grow our future patrons, employees, employers, and community servants.”
Celebrating a Culture of Giving
In 2019, M Financial awarded three of its Members Firms with the company’s first Annual Philanthropy Awards, recognizing the time, talent, and resources they invest into local philanthropic efforts and the impact those efforts have on the communities they serve.
|CEO Wes Thompson with Philanthropy Award winner Enza Financial.|
“We look at corporate philanthropy as an investment, not an expense,” said M Financial CEO Wes Thompson. “We are proud that our Member Firms are committed to enriching our local communities, driving local economic growth, and cultivating lasting relationships by putting the best interest of our clients and communities first.”
One of the firms honored was Enza Financial. According to Enza founder and President Joe Crea, the same philosophy inspired the creation of the Enza Foundation. “We budget funds every year and hardly ever say no when it comes to fulfilling the needs of children. It comes from our hearts.”
While one of Enza’s primary focuses is supporting charities and ministries that impact children’s lives, they also work with many other organizations and special interest groups.
Joe serves as Chairman for Habitat for Humanity Cleveland, and co-owner and Principal Linda Cahill is on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association, where she is “passionately raising funds to find a cure.”
Giving Is a Team Value
“One of our values is enthusiastic giving,” Linda said. “Throughout the year, our company sponsors a charity each quarter that we focus on as a team. Everyone gets involved—from organizing to working the event and securing donations. The Alzheimer’s Foundation is close to my heart, but at Enza, it is not just about what Joe and I choose to sponsor, but what our team identifies as a community need. That is how it is embedded in the fabric of our company.”
A few of the ways that the team has chosen to serve its community includes serving at local food banks, holding drives and fundraising events, adopting families in need over the holidays, and working with local chapters of Hope Over Heroin and March of Dimes.
“I think our philanthropic role in the community is extremely important—we feel we have a social responsibility to help our neighbors in need, as do our clients,” said Senior Retirement Consultant Kiowa Speck. “Many came to us because we share their values and mindset.”
The Enza team at last year's Flair Bartending event with TGI Fridays. The event raised over $9,000 for the Alzheimer's Association.
TGI Fridays is one such client. Enza and TGI Fridays have collaborated to produce an annual Flair Bartending event for the last two years, with TGI Fridays generously donating 25% of the evening’s proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. This past year, the event raised over $9,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Philanthropy Reveals a Service Mindset
With a team of people who serve the community with this level of enthusiasm, it comes as no surprise that they are just as generous in their personal lives as they are at work.
“Nearly every producer at Enza has been on the board of a local organization,” said Denise Bandsuh, the firm’s Underwriting Account Manager. “Our team has always been actively involved in the community at many levels.”
Enza COO Diane Hackman couldn’t agree more. “It is part of the way we look at service. Enthusiastic giving has always been a priority for all of us—both our leadership and staff. It is simply who we are.”
Do clients actually care about a company’s values? According to Linda Cahill, for many clients, the answer is clearly yes. “There are many times when, meeting a prospective customer, the conversation will turn to Enza’s community involvement … sometimes even before the company’s credentials and products are discussed.
“Our focus has always been on our client’s future. We believe that involves being active to secure our community’s future, too,” Linda added. “We’re proud to be recognized by M for our philanthropic work, but prouder still for the impact we have on the area in which we serve.”
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