The intention behind Great Diamond Partners’ launch in 2019 was to build a firm that provides wealth management in “a better way.” In the constant pursuit of this goal, there is one thing that is certain – innovation is essential to providing the best possible experience to all stakeholders: whether it’s clients, employees, or strategic partners.
In my eight years in the financial services industry, I have interned with one of the largest life insurance companies in the country and worked for both an international consumer bank and a massive brokerage firm – all quite different from an independent wealth management firm with nine employees. In larger firms, with thousands of employees and advisors across the country, change often comes at a slow pace – the example of turning an oil tanker comes to mind. It’s quite understandable that it would be challenging for these firms to implement new technologies, make changes to processes or enact new policies when they must all be disseminated throughout such a large organization. That being said, it is interesting that so many advisors who I have met along the way have said “a good advisor is always learning” when our industry often feels stuck in the past. This is where one of my favorite characteristics of being part of an independent firm comes into play – Innovation.
In 2022, Great Diamond Partners primarily focused on three key areas in our effort to innovate and be a wealth management firm that operates in “a better way”:
- Data & Technology
As a wealth management firm, data is far more important than many people will give credit. With the right data (and the correct systems/tools to utilize it), we can be more efficient and impactful in making decisions, offering advice, or reacting to changes in your situation. When there are changes made in Washington that affect aspects of advanced planning, we can quickly identify impacted clients and respond accordingly. If a client calls to ask about a new opportunity or to share a pivotal life change, we should be able to share the impact to the financial plan or offer advice on the spot. This is referred to as “Constant Planning Readiness,” a concept that is a key part of our vision. We employ a number of platforms to provide our services and it is crucial that they are properly integrated so that information flows in an efficient and useful manner.
Detailed and comprehensive processes are crucial to how any business operates. It sounds obvious but I still believe that it is underrated. In 2022, the team spent significant time evaluating and refining our current processes and automating said processes to create efficient workflows and improve the sharing of information. The collaboration among the team is a key part of this effort – getting all involved team members around the table to share what they need from a process and how they think it can be improved has been crucial to our progress. And we have quickly seen how impactful this work can be.
- Organizational Structure
Shortly after I started with the firm, we began operating on the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (known as EOS). One of the most important aspects of EOS is the focus on people: creating teams within the organization that focus on specific areas of the business, getting the “right people in the right seats” and creating alignment around our vision and purpose to ensure that we all know where we are going, how we plan on getting there, and the role that we each individually play in making it happen. This enhanced organizational structure has given us an incredible base to build on as we continue to grow as a firm and explore opportunities to improve the client experience.
I could say that change always comes easy but that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. There are certainly growing pains at times and occasionally we find ourselves running when it would be better to walk. Sometimes a great new idea doesn’t quite work out how we expected; but these are rarely seen as failures when looking back, as they often serve as stepping stones that take us in the right direction. The amazing thing is that we are a firm that always seems to want to push the envelope – to use every piece of technology in our arsenal to the highest possible capacity, communicate with firms similar to ourselves to learn how we can improve, and commit to constantly re-evaluate how we operate in the pursuit of optimal efficiency. The objective is to provide a world class wealth management experience for all stakeholders that is simple and elegant; especially for clients. Although there is substantial work going on behind the scenes, it should not create additional complexity. Like a duck on the water, you notice little change but the legs are working hard – under the surface and unseen.
And while we made some fantastic progress last year, the most exciting thing is that we’re just getting started.
Through the use of technology and process, as well as maintaining our eagerness to embrace change and innovation, we will not only continue to improve the client experience, but we also make it easier for everyone within our own four walls to perform the functions of their roles to the best of their ability. Now that certainly seems like a win-win scenario to me.