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Vetting, Setting, Culture & Prosperity


Case Study: Legacy Wealth Advisors

Every financial advisor firm has its own culture and issues. What Ironstone offers is a fresh perspective through the lens of four key areas of practice management: Strategic Planning, Business Development, Operational Effectiveness and the Human Element. We call them the Fundamental 4™ .

In this edition of our ongoing series, we sat down with Fernando Ereneta and Craig Ediger from Legacy Wealth Advisors to hear how Ironstone helped their firm achieve 70% growth.

THE CHALLENGE:  Staff Turnover & Communications

Fernando: Thank God, we’ve always done really well as a practice when measured by assets, revenue and processes. But about four years ago, we were having a really challenging season with what Andrea calls the Human Element: Staffing the office and building a solid team. We had a lot of turnover. It wasn’t that the people we hired weren’t capable. It was more of a communication issue.

Craig: We did a SWOT analysis with Andrea to assess our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. That gave us a good picture of what we needed to work on. Andrea is very insightful and quickly picks up what’s going on. As we started dealing with hiring, it would lead to other areas we needed to improve, and the floodgates would open. We’d realize, “Hey, this seems like something we could get better at,” and Andrea would say, “You know, I was wondering when you would come around to that.”

Fernando: We felt like we could trust Andrea because we know she had such a positive reputation among Raymond James teams. In fact, I knew people who were already working with her. I think but it’s pretty clear that once you get engaged with Andrea, she really knows what she’s doing.

Craig: Having spent 40 years in management, I know that hiring is crucial, because you have to live with the results. If you do it wrong, there’s a great cost to pay – for the individual, the manager and the team, as well. Yet with so many day-to-day responsibilities, it isn’t always easy to see the big picture at your own practice. Andrea probably had a better fix on our organization than we did at some points.

THE SOLUTION: Vetting the Candidates, Setting the Culture

Craig: Andrea helped us evolve our hiring process, which enables us to have a clear comparison between candidates. Another asset Andrea brings to the table is her relationships with other firms and experts: She led us to a recruiter who is very, very good, and she’s introduced us to several other people who can help us serve our clients’ needs. So just the value of her professional network alone is tremendous.

Fernando: Thanks to Andrea, we now have a morning huddle, where our team meets first thing in the day to see what everybody has on their plates, and to get us aligned in the same direction. It’s proven to be an invaluable form of communication. Andrea also implemented “Development Days,” where we close down the office once a month and work off-site. We’ll call Andrea as part of it, but we’ll also have sessions where each team member is assigned to teach on a topic for training, sometimes hitting one of the areas covered by the Fundamental 4™. Development Days have been really effective for communication, staff development and team building.

Craig: Left to our own devices, many of us would hire people like ourselves. Legacy Wealth Advisors doesn’t need a bunch of little Craig’s running around! We only need one. Andrea helped us become more specific about what we’re looking for. Her process strips away the blind spots that can lead to hiring mistakes, and takes the guesswork out of staffing. One other thing: We have every candidate interview with Andrea before we check references, so we can be confident they’ve been “Andrea-ized”!

THE RESULTS: Order, Clarity, Prosperity

Fernando: Ironstone helped us solve the Human Element turnover issue. Our retention of quality employees is now greater than ever. We are working with the people we want to be working with.

Craig: Andrea’s process resulted in us making two very good hires. She is also a great resource in other ways. At one point, Fernando was considering an acquisition. He asked Andrea, “What do you think about this?” She told him, “You’re not ready for that. The team is not strong enough to do that yet. You don’t have the repeatable processes down.” But after working together for a year or so, Andrea came to us and said, “Now you’re ready to make that acquisition.”

Fernando: From the time we started with Andrea to the present day, we’ve experienced about 70% growth – and we’ve done that with essentially the same number of employees. I think that’s a tribute to our teams being able to use good processes and work well together.

Craig: We have been able to define and refine a culture that’s positive and collaborative. There’s a character in the Bible called Onesimus. He was helpful to the apostle Paul, who then sent Onesimus to his friends to assist them. We use that story as a model. At our weekly team meetings, we discuss how we have been Onesimus to each other, because if we help each other, we’re going to help our clients as well.

Fernando: Ironstone keeps advisors focused on what’s important today, but Andrea always keeps an eye on the future: “Hey, here’s a game plan for the next 12 months or four quarters.”

Craig: She fine-tunes her approach based on each practice. I’ve served as a COO at a lot of different companies, and it was clear to me early on that Andrea reads situations really well. For instance: A couple of weeks ago, Fernando and I were talking with her. I had an inkling that one of our team members wasn’t quite sure of their direction. Even before I could say anything to Andrea, she said, “I’m not sure that person really knows what they want.” Andrea was already reading the tea leaves, yet she has no ax to grind. She tells us what we need to know as she sees it.

Fernando: We have monthly calls with Andrea. It seems like every time we talk, I walk away feeling, “Wow, that was a really great call!” – and the calls just keep getting better. Would we recommend Andrea to other advisors? Absolutely!

Craig: Everything Andrea says is surrounded by a really good, caring attitude that says, “My job is to make you more effective. I want you to succeed.” And she helps our practice do just that.