Why our culture makes a difference to you
Since the beginning, we’ve aspired to be a different kind of brokerage firm. Different in how we treat our advisors, how we work with each other, and in the results we achieve.
These differences are captured in the 30 “Fundamentals” that are the foundation for our unique culture. We call it: The First American Way. We emphasize a number of fundamentals that directly relate to “ease of doing business.”
DO THE RIGHT THING, ALWAYS. Demonstrate an unwavering commitment to do the right thing in every action you take and in every decision you make, even when no one’s looking. Always tell the truth. If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, and make it right. Be impeccable with your word.
CREATE EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES. It’s all about the experience. Do the little things, as well as the big things, that surprise people. Go the extra mile to solve the problem. Create the “WOW!” factor that clients will tell others about. Mere client satisfaction is for lesser organizations. Create loyalty by doing the unexpected.
BE A FANATIC ABOUT RESPONSE TIME. People expect us to respond to their questions and concerns quickly, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or by e-mail. This includes simply acknowledging that we got the question and we’re “on it,” as well as keeping those involved continuously updated on the status of outstanding issues. Rapid response is one of the easiest and best ways to stand out from the crowd.
CHECK THE EGO AT THE DOOR. It’s not about you. Don’t let your ego or personal agenda get in the way of doing what’s best for the team. Worrying about who gets credit or taking things personally is counterproductive. Make sure every decision is based solely on advancing team goals.
MAKE QUALITY PERSONAL. Take pride in the quality of everything you touch and everything you do. Always ask yourself, “Is this my best work?” Everything you touch has your signature and makes a statement about you. Make sure it’s a statement of excellence.
OWN THE PROBLEM. Take personal responsibility for making things happen. Start with “Yes.” Respond to every situation by looking for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done. Be resourceful and show initiative. Present viable alternatives. Don’t make excuses or wait for others to solve the problem. Be persistent.
CREATE A GREAT IMPRESSION. Every conversation, phone call, e-mail, and even voicemail, sets a tone and creates an impression. Makeevery interaction be friendly, warm, and helpful. Always identify yourself, use people’s names, and smile.
HONOR COMMITMENTS. There’s no better way to earn people’s trust than to be true to your word. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. This includes being on time for all phone calls, appointments, meetings, and promises. If a commitment can’t be fulfilled, notify others early and agree on a new timeframe to be honored.
SET AND ASK FOR EXPECTATIONS. Create clarity and avoid misunderstandings by discussing expectations upfront. Establish mutually understood objectives and deadlines for all projects, issues, and commitments. Where appropriate, confirm your communication by asking others to repeat back their understanding to ensure total clarity and agreement.
LISTEN GENEROUSLY. Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” Give people your undivided attention. Be present and engaged. Quiet the noise in your head and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Suspend your judgment and be curious to learn more, rather than jumping to conclusions. Listen with care and with empathy. Above all, listen to understand.
SPEAK STRAIGHT. Speak honestly in a way that moves the action forward. Be clear and direct. Be willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise issues that may cause conflict when it’s necessary for team success. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected.
BE THE EXPERT. A big part of the value we add for producers is the knowledge and expertise we bring to every situation. Be a student of our products and our industry and make yourself an expert. Confidence comes from superior knowledge. Demonstrate a hunger for knowledge.
DELIVER RESULTS. While we appreciate effort, we reward and celebrate results. Follow-up everything and take responsibility to see that it gets completed. We get paid to get things done, not simply to work on them or to put them in motion. Set high goals, use measurements to track your progress, and hold yourself accountable for achieving results.
BE EASY TO WORK WITH. Find ways to make working with you easier. Provide simple and complete instructions. When in doubt, do more for others rather than pushing the work back to them. Streamline our processes. Be ridiculously helpful.
PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM-SOLVING. Apply your creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm to developing solutions, rather than pointing fingers or dwelling on problems. Identify lessons learned and use those lessons to improve ourselves and our processes so we don’t make the same mistake twice. Get smarter with every mistake. Learn from every experience.
ALWAYS ASK WHY. In the search for the best solutions, challenge and question what you don’t understand. Don’t accept anything at “face value” if it doesn’t make sense to you. Be curious about what other information might give you a more complete picture. There’s no better question than, “Why?” Never stop asking it.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS. From the spelling of the client’s name to the provisions in the contract, from the underwriting requirements to the commission level . . . details matter. Be a fanatic about accuracy and precision. The goal is to get things right, not simply to get them done. Double-check your work. Get the details right the first time.
CELEBRATE SUCCESS. Recognizing people doing things right is more effective than pointing out when they do things wrong. Regularly extend meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation – in all directions throughout our company.
“BRING IT” EVERY DAY. Everyone is needed and everyone’s important. Be here and be fully engaged. Make the most of each day by approaching every task with energy, focus, purpose, and enthusiasm.
INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS. Everything we do is built on trust and trust is built on relationships. It’s a 2-way street. Learn to think from others’ perspective. Discover what they need and find a way to help them meet those needs while also fulfilling your own. Strong relationships enable us to work through difficult issues and challenging times.
BE RELENTLESS ABOUT IMPROVEMENT. Regularly reevaluate how you work to find ways to improve. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a reason. Find ways to get things done better, faster, and more efficiently.
WHEN IN DOUBT, COMMUNICATE PERSONALLY. When delivering difficult or complex messages, or in emotionally charged situations, err on the side of speaking “live” versus using e-mail or voicemail. Where appropriate, follow-up in writing to confirm your understanding.
THINK AND ACT LIKE AN OWNER. Make decisions by asking yourself, “What would I do if this were my company? What would I do if this were my own money? Will this help the organization to succeed?”
LOOK AHEAD AND ANTICIPATE. Solve problems before they happen by anticipating future needs and addressing them in advance. Preventing issues is always more effective than fixing them.
WORK WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY. Work as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality. Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be completed today. Get your work done.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE. The best way to influence others is through your own example. Don’t wait for others to change. Take responsibility, both formally and informally, to coach, guide, teach, and mentor others. Be the change you want to see.
ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT. Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest, and that the intent behind their actions is positive. Set aside your own judgments and preconceived notions. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
EMBRACE CHANGE. What got us here is not the same as what will get us to the next level. Be inspired by the opportunities that change brings, rather than stubbornly hanging onto old ways of doing things. Be flexible and open to implementing new approaches. Use technology to improve efficiency.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Since information is the lifeblood of our business, we must be great at sharing it across people, departments, and functions. Document everything you do and everything you know so that others have access to the information necessary for success.
KEEP THINGS FUN. Remember that the world has bigger problems than even the most difficult challenges that make up our daily work. Keep perspective. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh every day.