Sequoia Financial Group, LLC – Tom Haught, president
Q: Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
Like other service organizations, we have been focusing on how to continue providing value to clients during this dramatic recession. But as financial advisors, our set of challenges was somewhat unique. Volatility in the market has created extreme caution and, at times, panic amongst clients. Our biggest challenge in the past year was to get our clients to re-commit to their financial plans and “stay the course.” We realized that our clients needed up-to-date, targeted information to help them understand ongoing market fluctuations, to gain perspective and to obtain some sense of peace of mind to keep moving forward.
Sequoia Financial Group’s solution was to focus on enhancing client communications, both in terms of frequency and content. We emphasized that financial plans are made to weather poor economic conditions and provided relevant information to help clients understand the impact of what was going on in the market.
Specifically, we partnered with independent investment counselors Algonquin Advisors, LLC to provide clients with more detailed market analyses. More so than ever before, we also began having direct conversations in one-on-one meetings with our clients about those analyses, proactively explaining how market activity may affect them. By enhancing and targeting our communications, we were able to help alleviate some of investors’ fears—keeping them on track with their long-term goals.
Q: In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
Sequoia Financial Group is innovative in its use of a tailored customer relationship management (CRM) tool throughout the entire organization. For us to be effective and to efficiently service our clients, our team approach requires that each professional have access to each client’s activities, needs and preferences. Transparency is key. Our custom CRM tool allows us to accurately detail communications with our clients—from overall plan goals to specific trades to retirement plan information. Any team member called upon by a client can be completely informed and instantly ready to assist.
Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?
We learned that staffing the organization based on growth projections is not going to work in the current market. Identifying a great candidate and bringing him or her on board because we think it will be a great addition to the team isn’t practical in the long run if business volume won’t support the employee’s retention. We adjusted our hiring practices, recognizing the slow-down in the industry, and now hire strictly based on the current workload. We’ve also learned how to do more with less and to be more efficient in general in our daily operations.
Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
As financial advisors, we help provide a solid foundation for both business owners and their businesses. We work with business owners in the region to help them feel confident about their personal financial security. Having a secure “cushion” to fall back on allows them to feel more comfortable investing in and expanding their business ventures.
We also are somewhat unique when it comes to the additional resources we afford our clients, which provide them with another avenue of support. Through our affiliation with regional accounting firm Cohen & Company, we provide our financial clients with direct access to ancillary business services such as accounting, HR consulting, CFO/controller needs, business consulting, and M&A and turnaround management.
We impact the local and regional economy by strengthening the positions of owners and their businesses in whatever way they need, allowing them to continue growing and to continue contributing to our area’s economy.