Conor Delaney of Good Life Companies Visits Advisors Nationwide Face-to-Face to Strengthen Relationships, Listen and Learn
After the isolation of the pandemic, many people wish they could visit organizational headquarters, have conferences, meet face-to-face and share a laugh over a meal again.
In particular, independent financial advisors – traditionally more fearful of feeling professionally isolated – hope to meet soon with their partners at super-OSJs, corporate RIAs or broker-dealers to re-establish the human connection so abruptly replaced by video calls.
But most of these professionals wouldn’t entertain hopes that a busy C-suite executive might ever visit them at their hometown in their own office – And certainly in the midst of a pandemic.
Taking “Holistic” to a Higher Level
One CEO did exactly that. Conor Delaney, Founder and CEO of super-OSJ and wealth management firm Good Life Financial, spent much of the fourth quarter of 2021, between the Delta and Omicron waves, travelling 20,000 miles cross-country to meet with hundreds of affiliates in a 42-state network.
Following Delaney’s lead, Reading, Pennsylvania-based Good Life Financial emphasizes holistic financial and physical wellness, a vibrant, upbeat work environment and an ecosystem and community that improve lives – and those aren’t just words – Delaney believes so strongly in these principles that the Good Life family of companies includes juice bars and gyms.
We recently caught up with Mr. Delaney to ask why he chose this bold step to connect with advisors in their hometowns and what he and the advisors gained.
WSR: Most wealth management firms have moved almost entirely virtual for day-to-day meetings due to health and safety concerns and to enhance efficiency. So why did you choose to spend so much of Q4 on the road with advisors already affiliated with your firm?
Delaney: Simply, this trip was about deepening our relationships with our current advisors. While video conferencing adds an element of convenience to our business, the human, in-person connection cannot be overlooked. Being able to experience the issues our advisors face gave us a better idea of how to support them and the opportunity to solve problems on the spot. This approach provided a forum to just talk about ideas and strategies and get “into the weeds.”
As leaders of an organization, we felt it was critical to create space with our people outside of the normal cadence of the last two years. In short, we wanted to make it clear to our advisors that they are important to us and rather than just telling them, we wanted to show them. We plan to continue our road show in the coming months.
WSR: What did you learn during these weeks on the road that you had not heard during the last 18 months in the office?
Delaney: By being with our advisors, we were able to hear first-hand the impacts the pandemic has had on them, their families, and their clients. Many were able to open up in a way they aren’t always comfortable doing virtually, especially when other people are present.
Being unincumbered by the next meeting looming provided the necessary time to have longer conversations in which you can pick on little things that don’t come up during a prescriptive virtual meeting.
We also experienced a small taste of life in their community. Many advisors are proud to share with us some of the local flare and we had a lot of great meals. There is no way to measure the importance of these kinds of interactions for the well-being of a relationship.
WSR: You mentioned the concept of “Between the Check” moments. Can you explain what you mean and what value they have in building meaningful business relationships?
Delaney: Over the past two years, our normal patterns of communication have been stunted. By regulation and personal choice, we’ve been unable to break bread with our business partners and honestly, our relationships have suffered because of it.
Looking back at our business dinners of old and this recent trip around the country, we learn so much during these informal meetings. Often the most useful bits of information are shared during that brief period after the meal and before standing up to leave. These “between the check” moments provide insight to the personal lives of our partners which enrich and solidify our relationships.
There is no way to build these kinds of lasting relationships without informal interactions. And we look forward to having more of these conversations with our partners in the very near future.
Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org