Case Study: J Singleton Financial
At Ironstone, we take great pride in our work. We love inspiring employees to discover their authentic talents, then bring those talents to work every day. We love seeing a team – which may have struggled in the past – really hit their stride because of the staffers we’ve helped bring on board. It’s an honor to serve our clients and watch them thrive.
But don’t just take our word for it. For the kick-off story in our “Ironstone Implementers” series, we caught up with partners Judy Singleton and Hadyn Peery of J Singleton Financial to ask them what it’s really like to work with our firm:
THE CHALLENGE: Operational and Hiring Issues
Judy: I just felt like we didn’t have any standard operating procedures in the office. Everything was kind of ad hoc. Someone would walk in the door and say, “This is what I need,” and we would say, “We can do that for you,” instead of saying, “This is what we offer.” As a result, my team was being torn in a thousand directions and nothing flowed smoothly. As soon as I met Andrea at a national conference, I thought, “This is somebody I could work with.”
For starters, Andrea advised me to start doing employee reviews every 90 days. That about killed me! I told her it was too time consuming – I didn’t sleep for a week out of every quarter. Plus, she made me face some stuff that I wasn’t good at. Then, in the middle of that, Hadyn came into the picture. So, Andrea pivoted from giving me operational advice to consulting with me about a new hire.
Hadyn: Judy wanted me to speak with Andrea first. I can still remember standing in my kitchen in Baltimore, talking to Andrea on the phone for an hour and a half. I felt a connection with her right away. She made me feel like we were two old friends catching up. But she also put me through a pretty stringent personality assessment, along with a bunch of interview questions. After that, I flew to Jackson to meet Judy.
THE SOLUTION: Testing, Presenting, Vetting
Hadyn: Andrea put together an interview book for Judy. When I came into the office for the first time, Judy plopped the book down on my desk and said, “This is a research report. I want you to do a client meeting packet, a recommendation for a portfolio and a presentation to the team…in 90 minutes!”
Judy: We also had three of my senior clients interview Hadyn. Prior to his arrival, Andrea and I sat down and brainstormed what we would have him do when he came to the office. Andrea customized the approach that she felt worked best, based on what she knew about Hadyn from their interview. What’s more, Andrea’s personality assessments helped confirm that Hadyn and I were a good match for each other.
Hadyn: I thought, “These people know what they’re doing! If they’re putting me through this sort of rigorous process now, they’re doing the same or more for their clients.” They take things seriously. It immediately set the credibility level for Judy and the firm.
THE RESULTS: A Partnership of Mutual Trust
Hadyn: I started with the firm in 2014 as a financial advisor. Internally, partnership was a goal for me, but at the time, I didn’t know if Judy or Andrea were looking for a future partnership person.
Judy: We were absolutely looking! The Raymond James corporate office was pressuring me to get a succession plan in place. But initially, Andrea helped me discern whether Hadyn and I worked well together.
Hadyn: They did it in a really low-key way. They kept me “hungry,” motivating me with challenging tasks, but giving me opportunities for success. Andrea became an advocate and mentor, offering me great advice on how to excel as a teammate.
Judy: At first, everyone was wondering if I would just hand Hadyn “the keys to the kingdom.” I said, “No, he’s going to earn every single key,” and he excelled at everything. One other thing he did that was so smart, he wasn’t “too good” to do anything we asked of him.
Hadyn: That attitude came from Judy, who may have been The Boss, but she was never “above” performing any task. I was fortunate to have Andrea as a confidant, so if I was having a bad day, I could reach out for advice. She’s just so helpful and affirming.
Judy: The most crucial thing Andrea gave me was perspective. I had made mistakes with past hires and I wanted to be sure it would work out for both Hadyn and me. Talking with Andrea helped so much. Not only did she like Hadyn and think he was right for the firm; she assured me, “The assessment data also says you guys are a match!” The time we put in on the front end really proved to be valuable.
Hadyn: What I appreciate most about Andrea is that if you ask her advice, she’s totally no nonsense. If you tell her, “This isn’t working,” she will ask, “Well, have you done X, Y and Z?” If you say, “No,” she will reply, “Why don’t you do that? You have to put in the work to get the results you’re looking for. It’s not just gonna happen!” She won’t tell you, “This is easy.” She’ll say, “Look, this is really difficult, but this is how you can do it. Are you willing to do the work? If so, I will help you.” She keeps the heat on and doesn’t let you chicken out!
Judy: Andrea has more conviction in her little fingernail than most people have in a lifetime.
Hadyn: If I had to describe Andrea, I’d use words like “integrity” and “character.” She’s just someone you want to be around!
Judy: Six years after Andrea was instrumental in bringing Hadyn on board, I asked him to become a 50/50 partner. We made it official on July 1, 2020. Implementing Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ program has positioned our practice for even greater success, now and in the future.
Hadyn: Andrea’s job is to make people better and advisory firms stronger. She’s incredibly good at it. Anybody would be lucky to work with her!