Monthly Archives: February 2014

Category: Associate Development and Engagement

Building a Performance Based Culture: Provide Structure, Resources, and Tools


This is the third of three blog posts in a series on performance based culture. In this series Jennifer Turner and Marie Thompson, leaders from our Human Resources and Talent Development groups, discuss three pillars to developing an engaged and high performing workforce. 

In the first two posts of this series we discussed how communicating a clear vision and leveraging your talents’ strengths are key components to a successful performance based culture. Let’s move on to the final piece of the puzzle; providing structure, resources, and tools.


An organizational structure that can transform easily to support industry, technological regulatory and compliance changes is the foundational requirement to a performance based culture.  Schedules need to be aligned to support work volumes based on the day of the week, time of the year and activities in the market.  Business process redundancies across sites need to be in place to address spikes in volume or disaster recovery events. Centralization, standardization and automation efforts need to be part of the culture to gain efficiencies.

The organization and its leaders have a responsibility to provide associates with the structures, processes and job supports they need to successfully achieve expected business results.  Resources include a talented and trained workforce, an engaged and motivated management team, and a strong and professional corporate support team.  Associates also need the right tools to get the work done.  Up-to-date hardware and software, integrated communication and collaboration tools and business and professional training programs are essential to developing a performance based culture.

Boston Financial’s key initiatives reflect our values and help define who we are to our associates, clients and communities.

  • Promote Operational Excellence
  • Enhance Client and industry engagement
  • Develop valuable new products and services
  • Create opportunities for associates to maximize their potential
  • Establish targeted community impact efforts

Everyone in an organization has a part to play in realizing the goals and strategy that have been set for the organization and everyone plays a part in honing the culture which is set by leadership.   By communicating a clear vision, leveraging the strengths of our talent and putting in place strong structures, resources and tools, Boston Financial has developed a motivated performance-based culture that is bought into by all levels of our organization.  It’s this culture that will define our company’s long-term success.

Category: Industry Trends

Key Trends Driving the Fund Industry: Increases in Market Competition


Increases in Market CompetitionThis is the final blog post in our industry trends series. In this series we will look at the top five key trends driving the fund industry in 2014.

The noted Greek Philosopher Heraclitus is credited with the quote “Nothing endures but change”. Over my tenure in financial services, we have seen massive spikes in the financial markets, the rise and fall of interest rates and the introduction of many new investment options. Clearly, change is an enduring legacy in financial services.

In recent times ETFs and Alternative Investments have begun to change the product landscape:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports ETFs climbed to $1.61 trillion in assets under management at the end of 2013. ETFs now account for over 12 percent of the combined $13.9 trillion mutual fund / ETF market.
  • According to “The Mainstreaming of Alternative Investments”, a report by McKinsey & Company, between 2005 and 2011, alternative assets increased from 7.7 percent to 14.3 percent of total global assets under management. The report also found that in 2013, institutional investors planned to increase their portfolio’s exposure to alternatives across the majority of asset classes.

What are we thinking about as the competitive landscape continues to shift?

Competitive Advantage

Significant shifts in distribution strategies and continued expansion of products require firms to find areas where they can create advantage. Clearly, asset managers are focused on finding the right people, the right strategies and the right distribution tactics to deliver products to the market place. Boston Financial is focused on providing the right solutions to service those products in a high quality and cost effective manner. Our advantage is the ability to create solutions that leverage our scale and technology to help solve common challenges for our customers.

Strategic Partnerships

Gone are the days when one platform could serve all masters and all challenges could be addressed from within. Asset managers are looking for expertise to manage the array of new products entering the market. These skills range from investment acumen to resources to technology. In the end, you need to partner with someone that not only is ready for today’s challenges, but is positioned to grow with you and your business.

Regulatory Expertise

If we amended Heraclitus’ quote to our industry today, we’d all agree that “the one constant is regulatory change.” As our industry evolves, so will the regulatory requirements governing it. It has been clear in our last two client surveys that our customers have increased their compliance spend and will continue to do so in the near future.

The other constant in the sea of change is our commitment to maintaining industry and client relationships. The ability to have ongoing dialogue about the market and what is on the horizon has helped Boston Financial reshape product offerings during the past several years. Our goal is to continue that dialogue to build strategic partnerships focused on the future.

Category: Associate Development and Engagement

Building a Performance Based Culture: Leverage Your Talent’s Strengths


This is the second of three blog posts in a series on performance based culture. In this series Jennifer Turner and Marie Thompson, leaders from our Human Resources and Talent Development groups, discuss three pillars to developing an engaged and high performing workforce.  

In the first post of our performance based culture series we explored the importance of communicating a clear vision. Let’s move on to discuss leveraging your talent’s strengths and how this is done at Boston Financial.

Building a performance based culture Part 2

Leaders play a critical role in understanding people’s strengths and knowing where each person is able to contribute to the success of the organization, which ultimately leads to an organization that is performing at the highest level.

Boston Financial follows a disciplined talent identification and succession planning process referred to as the Leadership Talent Review (LTR).  Every 18 months the leadership in the organization gathers to discuss the future potential of each manager in the organization – from the front-line manager to the Vice President level.  Each manager is assessed against five business competencies that are deemed critical to meeting the future needs of the organization. Based on this feedback each manager’s future potential is identified according to their “readiness” for a promotion, stretch assignment or increased responsibility.  This exercise ensures that the organization is leveraging the strengths of our talent and that we have positioned our management team to meet the challenges and business needs in the future.

Next week will be the final post in this series. We’ll discuss the final pillar to building a performance based culture; providing structure, resources and tools.

Category: E-Business, Industry Trends

Key Trends Driving the Fund Industry: Changes in Consumer and Advisor Behaviors and Expectations


PrintThis is the fourth of five blog posts in our industry trends series. In this series we will look at the top five key trends driving the fund industry in 2014.

I am often asked what trends I see driving and shaping the shareholder and advisor market. A few come to mind immediately. These trends not only are what we see among fund companies, but also represent the three-to-five year lag of mutual fund behind other channels such as entertainment and retail.

Proliferation of Mobile Device Use

The average U.S. adult spends 141 minutes per day using a mobile device. (Advertising Age) This shift in how shareholders and advisors view websites has many asset management firms catching up. It is no longer acceptable to have “mobile enablement” as a special project. It must be integrated into your overall digital, marketing, and sales strategy. Firms are looking at the pros and cons of building stand-alone apps, redesigning their sites to be mobile friendly (using responsive design), or both to meet shareholder and advisor demand. Firms lagging behind with their overall mobile strategies may see declines in shareholder and advisor satisfaction, brand perception, and perhaps ongoing business.

Increased Expectations for Online Functions

Many of the self-serve features enjoyed in the banking industry are not yet available in the mutual fund arena. These include the ease of updating banking information, more advanced authentication methods, SMS alerts, and more. As consumers use these features more and more at their banks, they become service expectations and not luxuries.

From an information gathering standpoint, the parallel is the retail online experience. Shoppers can find reviews, detailed product information, blog entries, community discussions, and more before making a purchase. For mutual funds, basic statistical information exists, but due to regulatory concerns, much of the “real-world” experience and analysis may be lacking. Some firms fill this void by providing commentary, attribution analysis, and an added degree of rationale and transparency, all within the confines of the regulatory bodies. This helps tremendously, but many companies only provide these commentaries for a limited product set. Google did some analysis on this a few years back and concluded that the average number of sources of content consumed by a shopper doubled from 5 to 10 pieces of content between 2010 and 2011.

Social Media 

While social media has been used extensively to promote products in the entertainment and retail industries, true business-driving campaigns for the mutual fund industry are still lacking. Over 85 percent of high tech companies use social technologies, yet only 64 percent of financial services companies have adopted such technologies. (McKinsey)

Despite regulatory concerns, monitoring and control, and disclosure requirements, there is definitely a place for social media in mutual funds. Delivering the proper content in the proper context will be crucial for any shade of success.

Overall, the overarching trends haven’t changed much in the past 12-18 months. Mobile, social, and changing expectations will continue to drive how firm’s digital and sales strategies evolve.

True change will happen when these strategies are not thought of as stand-alone items, but fully integrated into a firm’s overall strategic vision and goals.


Category: Associate Development and Engagement

Building a Performance Based Culture: Communicate a Clear Vision


This is the first of three blog posts in a series on performance based culture. In this series Jennifer Turner and Marie Thompson, leaders from our Human Resources and Talent Development groups, discuss three pillars to developing an engaged and high performing workforce.  

How do leaders of an organization create an environment to support a performance based culture?  Creating the culture requires a well thought out plan, incorporating an approach that begins at the top of the organization and cascades throughout the entire organization.  It requires leaders to clearly communicate their vision and values for the organization, leverage the strengths of their teams and talent and provide corporate resources and tools.  An organization focused on all three imperatives will have an engaged and high performing workforce positioned to achieve corporate goals and results.

Building a Performance Based Culture

In this first post, we’ll discuss communicating a clear vision…

Leaders in a performance based culture are able to clearly communicate the corporate vision and strategic initiatives of the organization.  These leaders set clear expectations and department goals so each associate knows how the work of their teams contributes to the organization achieving their intended business results.
The Performance Management Process 02132014Instituting a Performance Management Process provides associates and managers with a roadmap to achieving departmental goals and developing talent.  At Boston Financial we have a five-step collaborative process that starts at the beginning of the year when strategic goals are cascaded throughout the organization.  Individual Performance & Development Plans (IDPs) are created to outline “WHAT” the associate will do to contribute to the corporate goals.  In addition, leadership success factors guide associates on “HOW” they need to do their job in order to be successful.  These leadership success factors illustrate what the company values.  At Boston Financial we have aligned our leadership success factors into five key competency areas:  Deliver Results, Collaborate and Partner across Teams, Know the Business, Model Integrity and Continuous Learning & Self-Management.  Areas of development are identified and appropriate training and skill-building are made available.  Throughout the year managers provide feedback and coaching to associates on their progress towards their goals and development.

Performance incentives are also available to reward, recognize and motivate individuals and teams.  Managers are empowered to award spot bonuses and many teams have created department-specific peer recognition programs.  Outstanding individual contributors may also be nominated for the Sterling Award, a quarterly program that has a personal monetary component as well as a charitable contribution to the charity of the associate’s choice.  Many of our associates have also been recipients of awards sponsored by several of our clients through their own recognition programs.

Stay tuned next week for part two of this series where we’ll discuss leveraging your talent’s strengths.