Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™
Every piece matters
Investments, cash flow, tax planning, retirement plans, life insurance, disability insurance, estate planning—the pieces of a person’s complex financial life can feel overwhelming when treated separately. Which is why Heritage Financial Services never does. Instead, the Massachusetts-based wealth management firm digs in to show its clients where the pieces intersect. Then advisors construct an integrated, streamlined plan with the people-first warmth that has made Heritage the trusted manager of more than $1 billion in client assets and a beacon for the Registered Investment Advisor industry.
“Our goal is to help people who are serious about their money build cost-effective, sophisticated portfolios, prepared with detailed financial planning,” says Chuck Bean, the firm’s founder and chief executive officer.
“It’s one thing to say that you’re a comprehensive wealth management firm. It’s another to actually deliver comprehensive wealth management,” says managing partner Jim Scally. “People who come to us originally thinking ‘investment planning’ realize, as our clients, that there are other aspects of their holistic plan that are just as important as investments. And they appreciate how particular and thorough we are.”
This level of holistic client service and education starts with a remarkable firm-wide culture of caring.
Treat them like your mother
Scally shared Bean’s motto from the firm’s early days: “Treat everyone like you would treat your own mother, and you’ll have a successful firm.” More than two decades later, it remains a Heritage core value.
It’s why Heritage dedicates an unusual amount of time to getting to know a prospect—even before they become a client. “We introduce clients to what we call our Initial Three Meeting Process,” Bean explains. “It’s how we get to understand them both on a personal level and from an investment and financial planning standpoint before we are officially engaged.”
The first meeting is all about introductions and gathering data. The second is what Heritage calls a State of the Union meeting, where the firm’s advisors deliver back to the client everything they learned from the first meeting and identify areas of their existing plan that need to be addressed. The final meeting is a deep, thoughtful discussion of what the firm can deliver.
“We do so much up front for clients before we’re ever officially engaged,” says Scally. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Once clients are officially brought on, they benefit from ongoing client service enhancements informed by a dedicated client advisory board. Insights from the board have led to new offers—such as an online client portal with user-friendly graphics and laymen’s explanations—and improvements to existing processes, including the firm’s approach to quarterly market commentary.
Managing partner Sammy Azzouz describes the latter. “The board said, ‘Don’t write anything that we can read in The Wall Street Journal or Forbes. Write something that relates specifically to you and what you’re doing for me, and write it in one or two pages!’”
As a result, Heritage adjusted its approach and generated extremely positive reviews, reinforcing the value of simply listening and responding to client’s voices—and giving insight into the firm’s 99% client retention rate.
Proudly flying the independent flag
Independence drives the investment strategy process at Heritage. “You know, we don’t have any close relationships with fund companies,” says chief investment officer Bob Weisse. “You won’t see us at sporting events or dinners with sales people. We’re not affiliated with any bank, mutual fund company, brokerage firm, or insurance company, and our clients appreciate that. Our investment team is in the business for them, not to make friends.”
To explain and market the differentiators of independence strongly, Heritage recently invested in a significant website overhaul and increased social media and public relations efforts, which have been overseen by Ann Smith, the firm’s chief operating officer and chief compliance officer.
“We started with a basic website that was very similar to just about every other website you see in our industry,” she explains. “It was a very static and straightforward site, and not mobile-friendly. And we discovered that 9 out of 10 potential leads or referrals find us online before they make a call, so we felt that, as a firm, we needed to take it to the next level.”
The Heritage website today is user-friendly, jargon-free, and an external reflection of the firm’s internal commitment to clarity and client service.
“It speaks to the heart and soul of what we do,” says Bean. “And it clearly conveys the independence, the autonomy, the unbiased, conflict-free advice, and the mantra we follow. We raise that independent flag, and we’re very proud of it.”
Culture built to last
The people-first Heritage way extends to its own employees. Biweekly Heritage Huddles set the tone for the close-knit team, providing an opportunity for the whole staff to applaud victories and learn from mistakes. But it’s the small, regular conversations that keep everyone engaged.
“When we were a much smaller firm,” says Scally, “it was very easy to walk around in the close quarters and get to truly know people on a personal and professional level. I think we’ve tried to carry that small-office, small-firm mentality to a growing firm so that all of the principals are still having regular conversations with all of our staff, whether it’s going to lunch with them, having breakfast, or grabbing coffee.”
And just as the firm listens to its clients with the client advisory board, it does the same for employees. Since its inception, the employee advisory board has been an active voice and champion of the firm’s culture. “They’ve had several meetings over the last year, and some great things have come out of it,” says Bean. “One of the biggest was an enhanced maternity and paternity leave policy.”
When Heritage team members look at advancements, both internally and externally, they’re excited and encouraged by earning the 2017 Best-in-Business IMPACT Award.
“Hard work pays off,” says Bean. “Our people have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this firm. So to see that hard work pay off with recognition like this is just tremendous. We still have that conviction to continue to do all the right things, and to continue to be one of the best in business.”
And, as Heritage moves onward and upward, it’s poised to leave a legacy of excellence and industry-inspiring practices at every turn.
Heritage Financial Services, LLC are not owned by or affiliated with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”), and its personnel are not employees or agents of Schwab. The IMPACT Award® and this video are not a referral to, endorsement or recommendation of, or testimonial for the advisor with respect to its investment advisory or other services.
The information provided and the views expressed by the registered investment advisors and their representatives are their own, without endorsement or verification by Schwab, and some statements have been edited.
©2017 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Member SIPC.