As Frank Fantozzi continues to find ways to grow Planned Financial Services LLC, he finds it challenging to continuously reach the next level of success.
“I think the challenge is growing your practice prudently to fit the culture and vision and team that you assemble,” he says. “That’s the challenge because there’s no constant. If there’s one constant, it’s you and your leadership.”
Fantozzi is constantly looking to make sure that as he grows the financial services firm, which is part of the LPL Financial Network with $200 million assets under management, that the business still fits the culture he’s created.
Smart Business spoke with the president and CEO about the challenges of doing this.
How do you grow your company so it fits the culture?
It comes down to vision. You need to know what you want to be. If you can’t articulate, first of all, to yourself and then to your team and then to the prospective audience that you seek, you’re going to grow aimlessly. You’ll grow, but you won’t grow as effectively as you can. You have to know what you want to be before you can say how do you want to grow. If I want to go on vacation, where do I want to go? If I don’t know, I can go anywhere, and that’s what happens to a lot of companies.
Your mom and dad tell you, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ What do you want your company to look like? That’s where you have to start — you have to know what that looks like, and then all your decisions as a leader should focus on moving toward that vision.
Think about it in the automotive industry. You can either be a Kia, which is a nice car but it has a certain marketplace and segment, or do you want to be a Mercedes Benz? I’m in the financial services business. If I ask you what financial planning means to you, you’re going to have your own definition. Are you a client for every financial planning firm out there? The reality is no. As a company, we can’t be everything to everybody.
For the health of the organization, you’re setting up expectations — that’s the key component of leadership. If you don’t know who you want to serve, you’ll attract all kinds. You won’t have the loyalty you want from your clients and you won’t have the effectiveness you want of your organization. Sometimes your efficiencies are better served for one marketplace than another. It’s critical for every leader to really define and remind your team that everything you do culturally has to be focused on this is who we are, this is who we want to be.
How do you define that well so there’s no confusion?
Write down for yourself what you think your company is — what the vision is. Then ask every one of your team members to do it. Take your best clients. Ask them and compare. If you get alignment on all three, then you’re probably spot on. It’s a three-point check — you have your vision of who you want to be, you have your team, and if those aren’t congruent, that’s problem No. 1. If your client sees you differently than how you see yourself, that’s problem No. 2. That’s the way you check it.
You have to know if you have alignment. If you have alignment you’re good. If you don’t, then the question is, ‘How do you get yourself in alignment?’
So how do you get yourself in alignment?
You have to say, first of all, is the vision I thought I had the right vision. Maybe your employees’ vision, because they do heavy lifting, is better. If there’s not alignment, is the vision I thought I have the right vision? If it is, then how do I get my team in alignment, and how do I convey that message to my clients? If it’s the other way around and it’s a different vision, then I have to first define what I want my vision to be.
There, you just have to do some soul-searching. You have to say where’s my company at? Where’s my life cycle? Where do I want it to be? Maybe you get input from your team and come up with a vision and then you have to get your clientele in. I would look at it in two different ways. If you’re all in alignment, great. If you’re not in alignment, and I like the vision I originally had, the goal is how do I get everyone in alignment, or if I come to the conclusion that I don’t like my original vision, then you have to start from scratch and figure out what you want to be.
How to reach: Planned Financial Services LLC, (440) 740-0130 or www.plannedfinancial.com