Top 5 Lessons Learned from Episodes 6-10 of The COO Roundtable
November 4, 2019, by PFI Advisors
With ten episodes now under our belt, we’d like to once again thank everyone who has listened, subscribed, and given feedback on The COO Roundtable. We’ve enjoyed having these discussions and hearing your responses on them. Our interviews to date have included fourteen operations professionals at twelve multi-billion dollar RIAs across the country accounting for over $46 billion in client assets under management. Over the past five episodes we’ve featured a few different perspectives on the COO role from RIA leaders and service providers. With so many unique topics discussed in the past few episodes, we felt it was the perfect time to recap the top five lessons we’ve learned from our most recent guests.
To see the top lessons learned from our first five episodes click here.
Read on for our highlights from episodes six through ten!
EP 6 featuring Jeff Concepcion, Nancy Andrefsky, & Lou Camacho: The Importance of Professionalization When Transforming Your Firm from a Practice to a Business
In Episode 6, Jeff, Nancy, and Lou discussed how their roles have played an influential part in the overall growth and professionalization of Stratos’ business and how they aim to convey that same success to the advisors they partner with. When it comes to deciding where key responsibilities reside, Lou says “we sit down around the table and we simply decide, hey look, who’s best equipped to execute on this and who can take this the furthest.” However, when it comes to operations, Jeff says, “Advisors hit ceilings of complexity, so you can only do so much on your own, then you make that huge leap of faith…and make that first hire… then you take the practice to the next level.” When the decision to hire is made, a COO’s discretion of skill sets and personality types comes into play as Nancy asserts that, “hiring the right people is, I think, one of the most important things you can do.”
EP 7 featuring Heather Goodman & Mark Delotto: What it Truly Means to Offer a Plethora of Family Office Services
In Episode 7, Heather and Mark do a deep dive into what it really means to provide Family Office Services and how they differentiate themselves through their attention to detail and top-tier care. Mark’s perspective is that, “it really is a very bespoke, tailored offering to each person within the family and so some people utilize bill pay and some don’t. Some people will utilize property management, and some won’t. Some people will ask for you to help with real estate transactions, buying and selling of homes, mortgages.” While Heather views it as, “I think when you really are dealing with full service family office issues you are dealing with the legal, the tax, the structure, the negotiation, the boundary setting, all of those things that become greater than just the investment side or the bill pay side of the world.” Both perspectives showcase the depth and breadth of the services that a real family office offers.
EP 8 featuring David Canter & Scott Slater: How a New COO can be Effective from the Outset
In Episode 8, David and Scott provided a detailed layout of how a COO should look at their first few months at new firm in order to be successful long term. David first recommended that a new COO “look beyond just the existing leadership and to the folks who make the firm run day to day.” Next, he insisted on “getting clarity in writing” from the founders “on what the role will entail.” Lastly, David advocated for the new COO to take their first 90-180 days and get a “great understanding of how the firm works and where they can make an impact.” Scott focused more on the delegation of responsibilities, saying, “I think the key is that a COO needs to have both the authority and the clarity around what their role is: to be able to drive forward and what they’re taking off the plate of others to create a more stable business.” Scott also echoed David’s thoughts in saying that the first 90-180 days are about “incremental wins” and not about being a “bull in a china shop and really shaking things up.”
EP 9 featuring Susan Dickson & Suzanne Williamson: How a COO should Prioritize People over Technology
In Episode 9, Susan and Suzanne tackled the important topic of firm culture and how processes such as a post-hire personality test can ensure that their culture remains intact through growth. Susan believes that “the clients are both external and internal…the most important thing has been to make sure that the people were taken care of as we went through a lot of challenges.” By maintaining this people-first culture through big growth and change they were able to develop a strong team even while integrating new acquisitions. Despite being Private Ocean’s Director of Client Services, Suzanne has an employee focused mindset as well commenting, “I think if you have happy employees, that comes across to your clients. I think being very focused on the employees and the culture here, and having it be a place where people want to work, promotes a lot of learning and gives employees the ability to give feedback and share ideas.”
EP 10 featuring Guest Highlights: How a COO’s Attention to Detail Can Enable a Firm to Succeed
In Episode 10, Matt provided a high-level review of our previous episodes and touched on some of his favorite quotes from each guest. In this process he mentioned that one of previous guests, Stacey McKinnon of Morton Capital, has documented the entire 72 step process it takes for an RIA employee to open an account for a new client and transfer their assets and that “it takes that level of commitment, and that level of detail to run an efficient enterprise.” It is that theme of attention to detail that flows through all the highlights that Matt covers and shows how by being meticulous in their approach, the COO can make every aspect of the business operate at peak capacity.
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