Word from Jeff: The Circle of Business Life

 

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the structure of our organization, and how we have built it around our overarching duty of enduring excellence of advice to our clients. This is a duty we take very, very seriously, and from the beginning in the 1990’s, we have sought to build an advisory institution that relies on systems, and checks and balances, instead of individuals’ motivations and memories, in order to facilitate ongoing excellence. Not that individuals are not important – good professionals are critically important – but they are not alone enough. In the end, it’s the system, not the person, that really matters to ongoing excellence.

Let me explain. In Jacksonville, we are fortunate to have a Mayo Clinic, which is a great example of systemic excellence. My doctor there – I’ll call him Don – is a fantastic physician, a really caring, competent guy. But I think he would be the first to admit that without Mayo’s systems – the medical records integration, the network of specialists, the checkup and tests prompts, right down to the color- coded lights on the exam room doors – he would not be able to provide the consistent excellence for which Mayo is renowned. Moreover, Don is of a “certain age,” and will be retiring soon, as is only natural and right. While Kim and I will miss him when he does, we are absolutely convinced that the excellence of our heath care experience at Mayo will continue, because of Mayo’s structure and systems.

From the beginning, we have aspired to build and run Camarda on similar principles. Staff turnover is inevitable.  People come and go for many reasons, and this is as it should be. Whether this is from retirement, death, because an employee has decided that their (and their family’s) best interests are better served by a different career opportunity, or because an employee is no longer able or willing to maintain Camarda’s admittedly rigorous standards of excellence and client duty, the change in business, as in life, is the only constant. But by building and maintaining systems, we can lay and maintain the groundwork for repeatable excellence that transcends the impact of individual players. Excellent systems can help stars really shine, and they can help the rest of the team up their game, and execute better and more consistently. A sports team would be another good analogy. Players grow old, get hurt, or may lose their edge or motivation game-to-game, but the team goes on, and the best organizations rely on structure – not just individual talent – for enduring excellence, and consistently getting the best from their players.

Camarda was founded on these principles, that structure defines excellence, and that quality professionals are the icing on the cake that really makes the systems sing. While the departure of a professional that we really like can be a jolt, when it happens it’s important to remember that the professional was the point person who delivers the excellence, and not the source of the excellence itself. Like with the Mayo example, that comes from Camarda, and not the individual doctor or financial advisor. Still, clients and advisors are not machines. It is quite human – and pleasant – that we tend to bond with the person we have most frequent contact with, and develop a close friendship, and because of the way the mind works can even come to feel that all of the advice and good service is because of this one person, and not the organization behind him or her. And even when we do, we still tend to develop a close connection with the organization’s point person, in Camarda’s case, usually with the Personal Wealth Advisor or PWA. If this person leaves – for whatever reason – it can be irritating and emotionally disruptive to clients. We can get angry, or upset, or feel abandoned. This is perfectly normal and natural, even when our intellect realizes that the quality and excellence we strive toward comes from Camarda and its systems, and not the specific individual. Even if the head knows better, the heart still hurts.

Staff changes are disruptive, as the humans deal with the trauma and emotional turmoil of change. Still, this change is inevitable, no matter how hard we try to keep it at bay. Staff will decide to stay home to care for a child, or have a spouse move across the country, or retire, make a career changes, or move to a non-client-facing position in the organization, or turnover for other reasons. This is unavoidable. Many of you have gone through several PWA changes over the years, and I think we have gotten through it well and even managed to increase the quality of service along the way. Still, if you bond with the PWA, it’s a tad unpleasant.  To try to address this and up the game even more, we are considering developing an enhanced service model, where instead of one specific individual PWA having primary client contact responsibility, we will use a team of perhaps three dedicated client advisors for each client. We think this will could really expand the level of service we are able to deliver to clients, especially as we roll out OneMoneyView™ (lots more on this below), which we think you will really enjoy. It should also help assure that the advisory team is more accessible to you, and that calls are returned, and service requests processed, even faster than before (and if EVER this does not happen, PLEASE call me, Jeff Camarda, at 800-262-1083, or email me at j@camarda.com. Believe me, I take this very seriously and WILL take immediate corrective action). But just as importantly, it will give you the chance to develop deep, friendly relationships with more of our team, and interact with more of us on a frequent basis, so that when some of your team inevitably moves on in the future, it won’t seem like you’re left out in the cold. We are very confident this will not only take what we believe is our industry-leading service up yet another notch, but also make the “family” dynamics of working with us more consistent, fun, and enduring. This is a very important matter, and I would really like to hear personally how you feel about it, so if you want to comment please email me at j@camarda.com. Thanks! Jeff Camarda.

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