Inclusivity. A win-win-win.

Inclusivity. A win-win-win.

Kate Healy | December 20, 2018

When you do work that matters, in a way that reveals your values, you’re sending a message to everyone around you.

As we’ve seen over the past few years, the values of a firm and its leaders can no longer be a secret. Or separate. They are intertwined with the firm’s brand. And while scary, that can be a good thing.

We see many advisory firms weaving their values into the fabric of how they do what they do. The leaders of these firms are shaping the culture they themselves want to be part of. And the best thing? They’re not alone. Potential hires — even prospective clients — often end up thinking: “Hey, I want to be part of that.” What your firm stands for, the kind of social capital you bank, matters more than ever — especially with the next generation of hires and clients.

There are many ways to build this social capital. One big way is to focus on inclusivity — supporting paths for all types of colleagues and clients, and deliberately structuring the policies and programs that make those paths real. Here’s how some firms are doing just that.

Working for all kinds of families

For Jill Hollander, CFP®, managing partner, Financial Connections Group, Inc., what inclusivity looks like is a firm that serves all kinds of families, no matter what form they take. The Bay-Area team at Financial Connections Group applies their expertise to help clients in non-traditional families, supporting them however they define their family and the kinds of financial relationships they want to have.

As Jill says: “It’s our role to respect someone else’s values and goals, and to help them achieve them.” The firm is known for their focus on LGBTQ families, unmarried couples, singles, and other non-traditional families. And the team enjoys the challenge of protecting these clients, pointing them to other services (such as legal help) as needed. For example, they’ve worked on a financial plan for two people who are not a couple — technically, they’re legal strangers — but who want to split their combined assets down the middle.

“People shape their own family, and we’re there to support them. The most important thing is that we’re open and accepting, and not questioning what they consider to be their own values,” Jill says.

Jill kept telling me she wasn’t doing anything special in her firm. But she is.

Opening opportunities for women

At Abacus Wealth Partners in California and Philadelphia, a major way in which inclusivity is expressed is in how the firm creates opportunities for women. After careful internal planning, they launched what has become a very active “Abacus Sisterhood” earlier this year with the aim of bringing more women into financial planning. The program brings in successful women for panel conversations and hosts regular conversational circles where women can come and just talk — whether they are employees, clients, or other advisors. I’ve been lucky enough to speak on a panel with them and am excited to see how much progress they’ve made — amazing what happens once you make an intentional commitment.

J.D. Bruce, president at Abacus, says that the program, along with the policies that go hand-in-hand with it, has been attractive to potential hires. One associate applied for a job because she read an Abacus blog post announcing a change in parental leave policy from 3 months to 6 months. That particular policy change led many women already on staff to find J.D. and tell him how touched they were that the firm instituted this change. “Even if it wasn’t going to benefit them personally, they were excited and glad to see it being done,” he says.

It’s no wonder that today 50% of Abacus advisors are women. But if you know them like I do, you know they’re not stopping there. The next inclusion initiative at Abacus, focused on racial diversity, is about to launch in some pretty powerful ways —with study groups, internships, and partnerships with minority colleges. Stay tuned.

So go ahead, put the human in your human capital strategy

In this season of sharing cheer and good will, spend some time networking with your associates, clients and peers. And some people you wouldn’t normally talk to, because they aren’t in your normal circles. Ask them about how more inclusion could help them. And keep these examples in mind. Your team, the team you want to build, and the clients you’d like to attract…they’ll all notice.

You will, too. Because feeling good about where and how we work is a great way to stay motivated and energized. As Jill Hollander tells me: “I have fun every day.” What a great thing to strive for in 2019.

TD Ameritrade and all third parties mentioned are separate and unaffiliated companies, and are not responsible for each other’s policies or services.