Meghan McCartan is the chief marketing officer for Hightower Advisors, overseeing advisor-facing marketing, thought leadership and events, and corporate/M&A initiatives. Based in Chicago with advisors across the U.S., the firm operates as a registered investment advisor.
Russ Alan Prince: Why is a company’s culture important in amplifying its brand?
Meghan McCartan: A company’s culture is a reflection of its values, mission and beliefs, and it extends beyond the boundaries of its immediate surface area. By incorporating cultural elements into marketing efforts, organizations can engage with a broader range of stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, partners and the community at large. But first, you must put in the work to define the culture and commit to it.
Prince: How can wealth management firms cultivate a strong and healthy culture?
McCartan: Corporate culture plays a crucial role in shaping the experiences of both employees and clients within an organization. For employees, a positive corporate culture fosters a sense of belonging, purpose and well-being. I’ve found that a strong corporate culture that prioritizes mental health and work-life balance helps create an environment where employees can thrive personally and professionally. Communication, collaboration and mutual respect are key drivers.
A culture must be genuine, or it will fail; in creating our culture at Hightower, we made a point to include stakeholders at every level of the firm and encouraged active dialog to make sure that our mission resonated from the bottom up. We also made the commitment to…commit: that is, to actively engage in conversations about each element of our mission and goal structure, conveying practical context for the standards we established.
We nurture an inclusive, collaborative and diverse work environment grounded in our highest mission: holistic well-th, deliberately spelled that way to illustrate that “wealth” encompasses much more than money. It includes well-being, health, and living one’s best life. It is ingrained in our corporate DNA and has become the cornerstone of our community. We live and breathe it every day, and we encourage Hightower advisors to impart it to their clients.
Prince: At Hightower, you have built a marketing campaign—The Well-th & Well-being Project—to empower advisors in their conversations with clients. Can you please explain this project in more detail?
McCartan: The Well-th & Well-being Project was built to empower advisors with resources and tools for their clients who are facing the most challenging life moments. Examples include family mental and emotional health battles; caregiving for elders and children; life-work balance, career transition, and burnout; financial stresses; and assisting families and couples in discussing difficult topics.
It is comprised of four pillars:
- Well-th is more than money
- Mental well-th
- Financial literacy
- Community well-th
We created content for each pillar across different marketing channels for Hightower advisors to share with their existing clients and engage with prospective relationships. We further refined each pillar with a marketing strategy that addresses multiple stakeholders.
Well-th is more than money. In marketing, content is king, so we tell our well-th stories in diverse and digestible ways. We interviewed a range of people—our CEO, new hires, leadership team, legacy employees, Hightower advisor businesses and others—seeking to combine their perspectives to build on holistic well-th. Our new hire newsletter gives new employees an opportunity to share their perspective on well-th, silly skits on TikTok to convey our core message and our “Hype Video,” with catchy music and clever camera angles, explores Hightower and its mission. Advisors can use our content as a starting point and then customize it with their own views to inspire client conversations.
Mental well-th. Health and well-th is a two-pronged concept, and mental health challenges occur in the workplace as well as at home. Because of its sensitivity, we needed resources that were both safe and available. We partnered with experts in mental health and caregiving to prepare white-labeled articles and identify sources of support, supplemented with an advisor-led well-th and well-being project within the Hightower community; this community enabled advisors to create and share ideas to respond to client requests. We made it easier for our employees to broach difficult topics and offered advice and guidance. We also established a hybrid work model that includes the ability to work from anywhere one month a year.
Financial literacy. Financial advisors need to educate their clients on complex topics if they are to succeed in growing their businesses and appeal to the next generation. We partnered with a television personality and social media influencer to reach a wider audience and start building awareness with this demographic. We used videos and podcasts to open doors and share the well-th concept.
Community well-th. By enabling our employees to live their best life through better work/life balance, including a flexible work schedule, unlimited PTO, and expanded caregiver leave, we empowered them to thrive and achieve true well-th through greater job satisfaction, productivity, and richer client relationships. Shared experiences, dreams and goals expanded the concept of community overall.
Prince: How can advisors tap into the corporate culture/brand efforts in their own marketing?
McCartan: Advisors can begin by advancing a corporate culture with a healthy and positive work-life balance and encouraging open communication in a supportive work environment. Increased job satisfaction can pay dividends in building stronger client relationships and attracting new business.
Advisors can also build relationships with the next generation by imparting financial knowledge that can prepare them for the responsibilities associated with wealth as well as demonstrate why they should care about it. Doing so helps to shift the paradigm that advisors are only for older people. Compelling messaging delivered through media and other content/collateral can help make the next-gen more familiar and comfortable with these concepts, opening doors to forging future, long-lasting relationships.
Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth and a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy. He has co-authored 70 books in the field, including Making Smart Decisions: How Ultra-Wealthy Families Get Superior Wealth Planning Results.