The Importance of Culture for the Client Experience

By Kostya Etus, CFA®, Chief Investment Officer, Dynamic Investment Management

 Culture is everything.

I recently talked about culture on Orion’s The Weighing Machine podcast, and it got me thinking. Here, in place of today’s Dynamic Market Update (which will resume in two weeks), I’d like to explore the topic of culture as it relates to the client experience.

Broadly defined, culture means something different to everyone. The essence of culture, however, is that everyone in the firm believes the same key ideals: Everyone needs to sing from the same hymnal. Everyone needs to share the same message, no matter who you talk to within the organization, regardless of position or title. And that’s integral to having a customer service-centric firm that cares about its people.

To me, the definition of culture has three components:

  1. Having the right people. You have to choose the right people that embody the culture the firm has established. When you find the right people that fit within the culture, they become part of it in a seamless way.
  2. Clear and easy-to-follow processes. We know we need processes in place; that’s how things get done. We can’t be gunslinging every day. However, processes must be easy to follow—that’s the key differentiator. Processes must be easy to explain, easy to understand and easy to enhance.
  3. The spirit of compliance. Compliance is “doing the right thing.” Everyone needs to take care of and do everything in the best interest of the clients. The definition of “clients” can be broad also. For example, employees are internal clients. That leads to the idea of taking care of your employees, business partners and all other relationships. And ultimately, taking care of your customers. All combined, it truly leads to a better experience for everyone. That’s what a great culture is.

“Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

– Warren Buffett, Sept. 4, 1991

This quote is from a speech to members of Congress where Buffett speaks about the unethical actions taken by Salomon Brothers and in my opinion, the day that the world fell in love with Warren Buffett.

Read Buffet’s thoughts on culture in Q2 2023 Investing Insights: Top 3 Lessons from Warren Buffet in 2023

What Differentiates Investment Firms?

There’s a lot more to choosing an investment management partner beyond their investment capabilities. There’s a wide variety of characteristics to consider including their unique investment Philosophy and Process. But there’s another “P” that’s often overlooked, and it happens to be the most important component: People.

People, Philosophy, Process

People, the first “P” has consistently been the driving differentiator when evaluating and performing due diligence on various investment managers. But just like culture, it has a broad definition. Here’s what “People” means to me, and how I see it working at Dynamic: Focus on service. Does the investment manager have the service model that’s designed to support advisors? The best example of that at Dynamic is our Custom High-Net-Worth (HNW) solutions:

  1. Understand client needs. This is where a “white glove” service model begins. We meet with the advisor and understand the client situation. What are their goals and objectives?
  2. Design a custom portfolio. Do we require individual stocks, individual bonds, ETFs, alternative investments, etc.? Are there tax considerations? Should the bond portion include state-specific municipal bonds? What type of ETFs are needed to round out the offering: income focused, defensive, etc.? What about alternative investments like private equity, private credit, private real estate, etc.? All considerations are combined to create a fully diversified portfolio to meet a client’s specific needs.
  3. The proposal. After information is gathered and the portfolio is designed, we create an institutional quality proposal which includes both simplified portfolio concepts (such as risk and return) and more complex modern portfolio theory statistics. We send the proposal along with talking points and meet with the advisor again to explain everything about the proposal. And if needed, we’ll come to the client meeting and help with the presentation because it’s a partnership.

 BONUS: Implementation. People often forget about the trading aspect of these complex situations. There could be a dozen different accounts, some qualified, some non-qualified, trusts, etc. There are legacy positions that may need to be transitioned over time. It’s like a Rubik’s cube, trying to unravel everything. We help solve the puzzle and provide the ongoing management.

This is the level of service that sets Dynamic apart and lends itself to delivering an exceptional client experience. It’s what truly sets any firm apart when you’re trying to determine the right partners to do business with.

Should you need help designing custom portfolios for your clients, simple to complex, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dynamic’s Investment Management team at (877) 257-3840, ext. 4 or

Investment advisory services are offered through Dynamic Advisor Solutions, LLC, dba Dynamic Wealth Advisors, an SEC registered investment advisor.

Photo: Adobe Stock