Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the properties I believe make Camarda unique, and I thought you might find this useful.
As founder and chairman, it’s hard to be objective about the firm I built, but I will try. Not surprisingly, I find this an exhilarating place to work. We have a real passion to deliver excellence in wealth planning to our clients, the primary reason we made the decision to become fee-only fiduciary money managers way back in 1998. We were truly pioneers back then, but the shift from conflicted, commission recommendations to fee-only clients-first advice was transformational. I personally made the decision to commit to lifelong learning and excellence in financial advice in 1990, and since then have completed the CFA®, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CFS®, BCM™, EA, and MSFS® programs, and acquired a PhD in financial and retirement planning. I’m also humbled to have contributed some award-winning academic research in the field of advisor training and ethics, and to have been repeatedly featured by the Wall Street Journal, and named as a top advisor by Forbes, Barron’s, WORTH, Bloomberg, and others (please see rankings disclosure on our website). I mention all this because this dedication to hard work and expertise is a hallmark of our firm and something our entire team is highly encouraged to emulate. To make and stay on the Camarda team, we expect folks who are very hard workers and truly care about improving their skills and doing what is best and right for clients. Those that don’t measure up to this find very much a no-nonsense boss. Our company constitution – which has hung in our board room for over a decade – basically says clients come first, employees come second, and firm profits come last. That does not mean profits are not important – we are highly motivated by profits, treat our employees like owners, and share profits generously with them – but it means we believe we can make more money by doing what is right and putting our clients first and team second. This seems different from many other companies, where profits come first and customers come last. If you truly want to help clients achieve advanced levels of wealth control that may be beyond the expertise and reach of other firms, have a thirst to acquire the knowledge and skills to do so, and are not afraid to put in the time and work to make this happen, our firm could propel you to levels of personal development and satisfaction, and income and wealth, that might not be possible elsewhere. You will probably find the mentoring opportunity incredible and unlike anything else out there. If you make a solid contribution, we want to see you do extremely well, and offer genuine partnership opportunities for those that are willing to put in the effort to earn them.
It is difficult for me to describe the downside of our culture, since I am fortunate to be able to define the firm in my own image, so to speak. Instead I’ll try to speak to cultural characteristics that folks that don’t fit our value system may find unappealing. As mentioned above, our firm culture values hard work and long hours. Folks rarely take lunch, and eat at their desk. Ours is a hard-charging, high-expectations very serious workplace. Not to say we don’t have a lot of fun, but dedication to very high levels of output, excellence and near-zero error rates is critical. We are zealous about protecting client confidentiality and other interests, and to providing outstanding levels of advice and service. This means calls and emails are answered the same day, information is accurately recorded, and instructions or requests are faithfully and promptly executed. If not, I encourage clients to complain directly to me, and believe me, if this happens, the responsible teammates will hear about it! Obviously, succeeding here requires outstanding to-do list and time management skills. We are very procedure orientated and expect all staff to understand and faithfully follow our detailed and documented systems. This means our various software, including CRM, investment management, and financial planning, must be carefully learned and meticulously adhered to in order to assure high information quality and accuracy. This goes double for regulatory compliance and moral and ethical integrity. A very high degree of ethical conduct is expected and demanded, which can be quite a shock (and a relief to the teammates we want to join us) to those coming from other investment companies. In short, we run a very tight ship, and expect the best of each other in order to render ongoing excellence to our clients and to each other as professionals. If you know of anyone that might be interested in joining us, tell them this: “If you are smart, hard-working, highly ethical, and motivated to very high levels of personal achievement, you may find Camarda exhilarating as well. If not, the fast pace and high standards will probably mean you won’t last long.”
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