Culture and Core Values

You may have read a blog of ours a few weeks ago by my colleague Hannah, following on from some work we’ve been doing on business growth and leadership, and one of the key themes recurring across all businesses, not just our industry, is the importance of creating a culture and core values that are personal to you and your firm.

But what has culture got to do with compliance? Well, a couple of things; the FCA announced in their annual business plan that culture would be a focus for them. Last year’s Senior Managers & Certification Regime was the first step into a culture based piece of regulatory change. Their beliefs are that if we create a solid and positive culture in a firm, the good advice and client outcomes will naturally follow. So far, so good.

Secondly, many advisers are business owners too, and from a compliance point of view, we want clients to run successful firms, of course, abiding by the latest FCA regulations, but also enjoying the benefits of a happy and engaged workforce. Studies carried out by global giants Deloitte and Forbes show that creating a positive culture drives performance in the long run. It won’t happen overnight, but companies ran by fear is not the way forward!

As an industry it’s no secret one of the biggest issues that we all face is finding, recruiting and retaining the right staff. We’ve had the same issues, and although we’ve probably always had an unofficial culture that all staff had been aware of, until we nailed this down, and defined what our core values were, we made a series of wrong hires. As a business, of course, this hinders us!

So, what steps do you need to take to help define your company’s culture? Let’s start with the core values. Every company should have some core values that define you and the way that your staff behave. There’s no set number, but we have three;

Culture and Core Values

It wasn’t hard for us to determine these values, we got together as a team and agreed what was important to us and our clients, and then picked the top values that represented us and defined the service we delivered. Other businesses could quite realistically have 5-10 company values. The test of a company value can be defined in three ways;

  • They must be alive in your business today.
  • Your business would take a financial hit if not satisfied.
  • You’d hire and fire based on the value being met.

Following on from your values, culture is personal to a firm. We don’t have to get all Google and install ball pools and snooze pods to have a good culture. In fact, perks that don’t cost anything can be really beneficial – things such as sharing big picture business goals, not micromanaging, and giving people the opportunity to be themselves – can all make a big difference to your team’s workplace happiness, as well as some of the obvious popular perks such as flexible working and casual dress policies.

For us, I feel confident we have nailed the Apricity and The Verve Group identity, but of course, this will always be evolving! It really has been key in helping us scale up over recent years.

We recently hosted a webinar on the issues we’ve faced hiring and retaining good staff, sharing some of the mistakes, and how we feel like we’ve developed our recruitment process to fit our culture – you can listen to it here.

Kim Binks – Director