Wealth Protection

Tapping Into Core Values

Advisors embrace servant leadership

Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions; they serve as its cultural cornerstones, according to The Harvard Business Review. And the culture of a financial advisory firm, when its clearly laid out and its guiding principles widely communicated, is especially vital when managing clients’ wealth.

It’s a lesson well-heeded and executed upon by Brian Roberts, CFS® and CEO of Synergy Wealth Solutions, based in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s a MassMutual firm with about 150 advisors serving clients in all 50 states. He maintains that the firm’s core values are what separate Synergy Wealth Solutions from the pack, as long-term financial advisors who help clients and their families.

In a recent interview with Advisors Magazine, Roberts was quick to define the company’s culture and delineate its five core values (in no particular order): Energy, Servant Leadership, Significance over Success, Results-driven, and Think Win-Win.

action2 Synergy Energy means delivering an excitement and enthusiasm around education and planning and the relationships we have with clients,” Roberts said. “Too often, I think prospective clients have the idea that the conversation can be drab or dreary or they are so confused about their financial position.”

Discussing financial matters doesn’t need to be mind-numbing. Prospective clients may think they’re not in a very good position or might feel like they are behind the eight ball. But at Synergy Wealth Solutions, Roberts explains that the culture of energy makes clients comfortable. Advisors get a handle on where clients are and then deliver education at that point, building confidence by explaining the choices available.

“The feedback that we get a lot of time is that we provide a totally different experience than they thought it would be,” Roberts said. “There is a lot of energy, education, enthusiasm and encouragement around taking the first steps. And after that, clients often see that they are not in as dreary a position as they initially thought.”

Servant Leadership is another core value. Servant leadership, according to the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

robert quote
Greenleaf first coined the phrase in an essay dating back to 1970. In essence, he stressed that a servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

“The thing about this business is we can’t further ourselves without first serving and furthering others,” said Roberts explaining what servant leadership means at his firm. “So, we know that and there’s a pride at Synergy that we have. It’s important to be servant leaders for our clients and within our communities.”

Roberts sees servant leadership as still unique in the world of financial advice. He maintains that such a mentality makes the firm highly attractive, not only for clients to select and partner with Synergy Wealth Solutions, but also as a reflection of the firm’s culture.

“Something special happens when people walk into our office and experience who we are as people,” he said. “And having a great, caring attitude is, unfortunately, kind of rare. To be able to do it in your profession and love the people that you work with and serve,” he continued, “that’s an attractive quality and it’s something that we’re definitely proud of.”

Another core value: Significance over Success. “Here, we thrive on diving deep with our clients to have meaningful and productive relationships,” Roberts said.

When leveraged with education, the significance over success emphasis allows the development of financial plans to deliver a legacy for clients’ loved ones and the things they are passionate about. “For us, we place far more value on this than anything else,” he added.

Nonetheless, Synergy Wealth’s next core value is being Results-Oriented.

“This is a performance-based culture and we have to deliver on expectations and get results,” Roberts noted. “Our clients are counting on us to bring the solutions, the confidence and the unique strategies to their situations, and we are committed to going above and beyond for our clients and exceed those expectations. This helps us forge longstanding, generational relationships.”

Think Win-Win is the fifth core value, which furthers the results-driven nature of the firm. “We’re true partners with our clients,” Roberts said. “We’re with them at every single step of the journey. We’re always thinking win-win, and we strive to develop winning situations and deepening our relationships.”

Inspired into the Industry

The common thread running through the five core values is one of inspiration. Roberts, himself, was inspired as a young man to join the field of financial service.

In 1998, he was a sophomore at the University of Missouri. He came from a relatively humble upbringing and was working three jobs, funding his way through college. He recalls sitting in a finance class when a guest from the financial planning industry came to speak.

“He was very eloquent and passionate about the industry – and he was selling the dream and I was buying,” Roberts remembered. “I had no idea about stocks or bonds or insurance or financial planning, but he discussed unlimited income, helping others, owning and running your own business. All the things that were super appealing to me.”

It resonated with Roberts, but he had no idea at the time how transformational that speaker would ultimately be on his life. That speaker offered him an internship as a sophomore, which was uncharacteristic for the firm, which preferred to hire seniors. “I told him I’d work harder than anybody else, that I had a great capacity for learning the business,” Roberts recalled.

Synergy teamAnd he did. He became increasingly successful in the business and in 2017, Roberts had an opportunity to create Synergy Wealth Solutions. He became the CEO and has grown the company to more than 40 locations.

Today, Roberts likes to talk about leading with education. He recognizes that there is so much financial noise and that now, more than ever, information is so easily accessible.

“The challenge with that is: what are the sources that you’re deriving your interest or your education from?” he said, which makes it exceptionally difficult for clients to even take the first step. “Unfortunately, clients will just throw their hands up and say, ‘I’m so confused, I don’t know which direction to go.’”

Such reaction was never more evident than during the pandemic. But Roberts and Synergy Wealth Solutions were up to task.

“In my 23 years I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more important time for connectivity,” he remarked. “In times like this, I feel you have to be first; you have to adapt and you have to adopt – not only as a leader or somebody who is guiding and educating others, but especially when you are helping people care for their financial futures.”

Roberts said his company was among the first to reach out with insight, providing guidance, knowledge and instilling confidence. “Communication is king in times of turmoil and chaos,” he said. “We worked exceptionally hard to update our clients daily.”

The company produced newsletters, had extensive conversations, shared details in emails, and provided factual information. Technology like Microsoft Teams and Zoom video-conferencing were deployed, helping first the firm’s own advisors, and then helping clients to adapt to such platforms. “We held clients’ hands throughout the process, constantly educating – and it all helped build trust and confidence in our clients,” Roberts said.

The Inspiration Niche

Listening and greater mutual understanding are a couple of items that Roberts believes the financial services industry can improve upon.

fam shot“The reality is we are more of a customizable society nowadays,” he said. “Nobody wants to be sold something. Nobody wants to be put into a box. There’s a strong desire, more than ever, for people to be able to be understood and to be heard.” Which explains why Roberts describes the niche at Synergy Wealth Solutions as providing innovative solutions for an inspired life.

At its heart is getting to know what each client dreams of accomplishing and wants to accomplish. And Roberts emphasized that a cookie-cutter approach, or off-the-shelf solutions to financial planning, just don’t work – because every family has a different dynamic and every person has a different goal for what they want out of their life.

“To do great jobs as advisors, we first have to meet the client where they are and then build the confidence and trust to a point where they share with us the most intimate and important things in their life,” Roberts stressed. “And when you do that, there is no cookie-cutter solution.”

Each Synergy Wealth Solutions client has a holistic financial plan, designed to protect them from the what-if scenarios that life may throw at them, and at the same time being highly specific in order to match their goals with unique solutions and strategies.

It comes back to the core value of servant leadership. Serving clients in an exceptional way that educates and empowers them, leading them to realize their own dreams.

But beyond the client-facing perspective of servant leadership, Roberts noted that it’s also the glue that binds all of Synergy Wealth Solutions advisors and staff together.

“In supporting each other, through the whole global pandemic and beyond, it makes it an electric and exciting place to build a profession,” he summarized.

For more information on Synergy Wealth Solutions, visit: synergywealthsolutions.com

Local firms are sales offices of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. Securities and investment advisory services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 16150 Main Circle Drive, Suite 400, Chesterfield, MO 63017. (636) 728-2400. CRN202302-277688.


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