Building trust through communication and camaraderie

Thought Leadership on Peer Advantage presented by Vistage Worldwide.

Trust and compassion are hallmarks of the internal company culture that Chris Cordaro, managing partner and chief investment officer, has honed during his 29 years with RegentAtlantic Wealth Management. Within his firm, each team member really cares about one another — and proves it. “That caring helps to build the communication and trust levels,” he says, “and everyone is invested in each other’s success.”

This type of core cultural investment has profound effects on client relationships as well, just as creative investment solutions, areas of expertise and innovative technologies do.

With a strong company culture supporting change and growth, RegentAtlantic’s development of technology solutions in the past decade has benefited both advisors and clients alike. The firm was an early proponent of using technology to streamline processes. This allowed the team to focus on client needs rather than the repetitive, administrative tasks involved with rebalancing portfolios. So, Cordaro led the way for an artificial intelligence engine specifically designed for investors. This innovation not only had impact on RegentAtlantic but the industry at large: In 2006, the firm was recognized with a Charles Schwab Impact™ Award for “Best in Technology — US independent advisory firms,” and it is now used by more than 50 investment management firms across the country.

Staying smart yet approachable

For Cordaro, some of the other innovative moments in his career have grown out of giving newer advisors the opportunity to explore their ideas and become experts in particular areas, such as Social Security. He says he is most inspired by collaborative meetings in which everyone brings their best ideas to the table and builds on them.

Cordaro takes pride in his team of advisors who he says are “smart yet approachable.” Collaborating internally solidifies trust and support within the firm, he says, which can then be shared with clients. “Taking clients through ’08-’09 was a really difficult and painful period for them, as well as for us. While advising and communicating with these individuals, we really needed to support each other as well,” Cordaro recalls.

Trying to emotionally get people through this tough time — “conveying the fact that the world wasn’t coming to an end” — could take its toll on any advisor, he says. The message that rings true on a daily basis, regardless of the market, is about maintaining composure: “What I always told our team is that an advisor has to be the calmest person in the room. That takes us supporting each other to be calm and confident about the advice that we’re delivering,” says Cordaro.

Asking the tough questions

When RegentAtlantic was gearing up to implement a recent digital marketing strategy, Cordaro, of course, collaborated with his colleagues. They examined every angle, from analyzing previously untapped considerations to measuring how much investment should be put behind the plans.

Taking it one step further, Cordaro sought insight from peers outside his firm, including those in his Vistage CEO peer advisory group. By hearing how other business leaders were using digital advertising in their industries — and which strategies were really working — Cordaro gained the ideas and confidence for moving his own firm’s strategy forward.

“One of the benefits of Vistage is the ability to have a diverse group with no competing interests — we’re all there to help each other,” says Cordaro. “That trust was being built from the very first meeting. We might ask each other difficult questions, but that is so we can offer help and all think deeply about what we need.”

For Cordaro, making time to analyze unbiased business perspectives is key to preparing for innovation and change. He says, “It’s a time when I’m just focused on thinking about how to run and build my business, rather than being caught up in the actual day-to-day running of it.” This is trust at its most effective: established among colleagues and peers, and delivered to clients for their most pressing needs.

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