Composite Client Case Study

The classic entrepreneur is all too often heralded as the first one in the office and the last one to leave, always running from one meeting to the next. Vacations are not times of refreshment, because the entrepreneur convinces themselves that they can never embrace rest or refreshment. The cycle is typically born out of a motivation to succeed, coupled with relentless memories that in the beginning, the entirety of their success or failure fell on their shoulders. The combination can unconsciously produce this classic entrepreneurial dilemma, where a founder-centric business model is held captive to their own time, resources, energy and developmental constraints.

Provincial Development Group engaged with a northwest based, first-generation RIA firm with aspirations to build beyond its entrepreneurial heritage. The firm was beginning to think about succession planning and the next generation of leadership but realized there were gaps within the foundations of their leadership effectiveness, strategy, team, scalability and operations.

In the initial phase of Discovery, we evaluated the firm across what we have identified as Five Core Elements of Company Health: Identity, Clarity, Conviction, Integration and Growth. This framework is designed to identify incongruity within leadership effectiveness, business strategy, culture, brand, operational efficiency and growth. One hallmark of entrepreneurial organizations can be a “growth-at-any-cost” focus. Yet, our experience has helped inform us that not all growth is created equal. In fact, when there is growth without adequate scalability across the Five Core Elements, it can result in tremendous risk.

The Discovery Stage of our work found a growth paradox phenomenon which Bain & Company has written about, where “growth creates complexity, and complexity kills growth.” Our client was at a crossroads on their journey of being a founder-centric practice, towards their vision of becoming a larger, multi-generational business, where the weight of the day-to-day did not fall primarily on the shoulders of the entrepreneur/founder, but rather to an effective leadership team. The ideal result is a culture of learning and growth, and a practice built upon well-designed, repeatable operational practices, and a plan for sustainable, healthy, long-term growth.

To help our client achieve this objective, we worked through all Five Core Elements: Identity – what is the firm’s unique value proposition, Clarity – how well can everyone in the firm articulate the four key brand elements, Conviction – how well does the culture reflect the brand, Integration – where are there gaps between intent and execution, and what operational practices need to become systematic and well-documented, Growth – how clear are the leaders about the difference between healthy and risky growth and what is the growth strategy.

Here is brief outline of the results, across our five primary areas of focus:

Leadership

  • Worked through an actionable strategic plan that the three partners agreed upon
  • Delegated clearly defined areas of responsibilities for each partner, based on their skills and expertise
  • Established an ongoing format for the leadership team to communicate and a framework to make consensus-based decisions

Strategy & Execution

  • Developed a comprehensive strategic plan with the leadership team that founded a clearly defined criteria for success, which was implementation
  • The plan was designed from the ground up, to integrate every aspect of the firm
  • The strategic plan provides a clear framework for decision making
  • The strategy candidly addressed the obstacles that were holding the firm back and identified the best opportunities to pursue, in a prioritized manner

Team & Culture

  • We reorganized the org chart, to align the team with the strategic plan
  • Developed clear metrics to measure each team member’s contribution
  • Delegated oversight of client services and experience to someone that was not an advisor or partner, that was qualified and gifted at implementation

Client Services & Experience

  • Segmented all clients into five distinct service levels
  • Clearly defined all service offerings and which client levels would have access to them
  • Defined all actives from the first introduction to the ongoing review process

Growth & Brand

  • Oversaw a firm-wide rebrand
  • Created a comprehensive growth strategy (relationship development)
  • Updated all supporting marketing resources (print & digital)

Summary

For the first time in more than a decade, the firm has a clearly articulated strategic plan, a framework to make decisions, both big and small, and most importantly, the strategic plan has been integrated within every aspect of the firm. It’s a new day at the firm, and we are delighted that we were a part of creating a better future for the leadership team, the staff and their clients.