At Grady Campbell, we’re constantly drilling down to uncover the foundation of a strong brand. Gresham Partners, a nationally recognized independent wealth management firm based in Chicago, is a client that exhibits a strong brand. We decided to delve a little deeper to gather more insight into the values that have made Gresham so successful, both in terms of performance and reputation.
The Values Institute* conducted a study identifying five values that influence trust in a brand. The study revealed that consumers value Candor (honesty, transparency, and authenticity) more than ever before.
“We’ve learned that it takes a conscious decision to invest in relationships with consumers and a true corporate commitment to ‘live out’ a company’s values on a daily basis in order to grow and sustain trust. Those brands willing to take on the challenge are most definitely rewarded financially.” (2013 Most Trusted Brands Findings Report, The Values Institute)
We spoke with Ted Neild, Gresham’s President and Chief Investment Officer, to gather more insight into the values that drive performance for Gresham. “Gresham focuses on alignment of interest with our client-focused solutions and avoids the conflicts typical of other firms in the wealth management industry. This is a founding principle upon which the business was built. It is this principle that continues to drive long-standing and trusting relationships with our clients and a strong business model for Gresham,” Ted states.
This alignment permeates everything they do, including compensation, where the firm’s client advisors and investment team members are not paid based on selling products or raising new assets. A lot of financial firms claim they provide trusted advice – they talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. Brokers typically are not bound to a fiduciary standard to find the “best” products for their clients, but merely ones that are considered “suitable,” for which they are paid to sell. This is an obvious conflict.
“Sitting on the same side of the table with our clients is essential to developing the relationships upon which our long-term success is built,” asserts Ted. Not only is the principle a strong attraction for their clients — Gresham has also become a destination for investment professionals in the industry. They’ve worked at big banks and broker/dealers with all of their conflicts and they find the Gresham model attractive because they can actually work with their clients rather than always thinking about selling products to them.
*The College of Communications at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), and The Values Institute at DGWB (TVI), a social entrepreneurialism think tank based at Santa Ana’s DGWB Advertising & Communications, have formed the Center for Brand Values Communication and Research at CSUF (CBVC&R), the world’s first university-based center dedicated to studying the link between brand values, corporate communications and resulting consumer trust.