"Knowing I could bring uncommon tools and expertise that serve the greater good is what drove me to the industry” - Dr. Gino Collura, FinanceCAPE
[With the increased dependence on social media, email, and rapidly developing mobile technology, we have created communication systems that are no longer dependent on good old fashioned “gut instinct” and meaningful discussion. Rather, we rely on succinct text and superficial conversation that often loses meaning, intentions, and immense value between one another. In this age of connected disconnection, an advisory firm decided there could never be more of an opportune moment to serve as a beacon of light between clients and all their financial professionals. Tampa-based financial advisory firm FinanceCAPE has created a unique Financial Concierge model that relies on deep relationships, full transparency, and an effective holistic communication structure that is designed and actively co-ordinated by their in-house human behavior expert and Chief Integration Officer, Dr. Gino Collura. The following discussion with Founder Travis Jennings and Dr. Collura provides a great perspective on how financial services can evolve and strengthen their client engagement and community positioning.]
Hortz: How did you determine and go about building such a strong behavioral engagement component into your business model?
Jennings: “I have been in this industry for a long time and there is one thing that is a constant…who we serve. We serve human beings who have very real challenges that require very real solutions. Taking the typical industry approach and focusing on products/tactical outcomes is something I always knew had a shelf life. I wanted our firm to be different and focus on the human aspects of finance. Aspects that are not easy and often overlooked by large firms because they require a different type of expertise outside of the standard industry approach that is product centric. I wanted to make a shift and grow our capacities from a traditional advisory firm to a concierge firm that had the capability to understand the behavioral and practical considerations of clients; to create generational relationships that were rooted in authentic and genuine trust. To develop this new approach into a consistent process, I went outside our industry to bring in the expertise so needed in ours.”
Hortz: Gino, please tell us more about your professional background and why you decided to get involved in the financial services arena.
Collura: “Financial services is an arena that is flooded with misconceptions and a vast amount of misalignment between clients and providers. Over the years, I have seen the gap in financial literacy widen due to a very simple reason: the industry has forgotten it is in the business of trust. I take great pride in serving others and understanding their why’s, their what’s, and their how’s. That is what drove me to my Ph.D. in Human Behavior; specifically, Neuro-Anthropology. Identifying the cultural trends set forth within the securities industry, while having a keen awareness of the neuroscience involved with building and maintaining authentic trust, is where I hang my hat. My ongoing research highlights the science of decision making, stress management, inter-human rapport, and trust-building. Knowing I could bring uncommon tools and expertise that serve the greater good and folks who need help is what drove me to the industry.”
Hortz: Why do you feel that offering and building an alignment between all financial services partners is needed?
Jennings: “We recognize that different professionals have all been trained in different ways. The issues that an accountant is trained and conditioned to look for are not the same as an estate planning attorney; just like the challenges insurance agents look for are not the same that investment advisors target. The key to delivering excellence and success for clients is within the bridge building process between one another. Our concierge vantage point allows us to know what the accountant, estate planning attorney, insurance agent, and banker can bring to the table but do not have the behavioral expertise or communication platform to align with one another. Finance CAPE provides the behavioral ingredients in addition to the service of making the bridges between one another happen.”
Hortz: How do you go about doing that?
Collura: “It all starts with a face-to-face, transparent conversation that is rooted in respect, fiduciary obligation, and solution alignment. There are fundamental ingredients that go into making ANY relationship work. It doesn’t matter if it is personal or professional. A challenge that has spread throughout our industry is that we have become complacent in our understanding of human emotion, vulnerability, and motivation. Every professional who has a vested interest in their clients’ financial well-being needs to have an understanding of one another. We strive to incorporate behavioral principles that stem from operant conditioning, framed reinforcement, neurobehavior as well as psychosocial regulation. Understanding the entire picture from the client’s point of view is essential.”
Hortz: What are the major obstacles in this process and how do you address them?
Collura: “Areas such as due diligence, expectation management, and consistency practices must be explored, defined, and followed up on. These three areas are where a lot of choke points are exposed and created throughout any relationship building process. The majority of clients come to the table with a lot of curiosity and excitement that is equally matched with hesitation and doubt. The onus falls on us to guide the relationship through confidence that stems from knowing everything there is to know about the solutions we are bringing to the table. This falls directly in line with establishing the right expectations depending on the client and what their goals are for the short term, long term, and in perpetuity. This ties in with being consistent in every facet of our delivery. Whether it be in our communication with the client, meeting established goals and expectations, or getting ahead of potential market adversities; consistency and no surprises are king.”
Hortz: What response have you received from clients and their other financial professionals?
Collura: “We have found that clients and other professionals really appreciate an approach that is thorough and aligned between all vested parties – between professionals who have a common interest in providing the best service and solutions. We love being able to make other trusted professionals in our clients’ lives shine. It truly is one of my favorite things to do. A great example of this is found in how we work with accountants. Recently, we kicked off a partnership with a large accounting firm in our local market. This relationship was over two years in the making because it takes time for us to complete our own due diligence and establish realistic expectations. Reputation and consistency in performance are exceedingly important in who we choose to work with.
In this particular relationship, we have a structure that allows us to have monthly meetings with the accounting firm to review their clients who could benefit from a proactive tax reduction plan. We sit together with their senior accountants, review fact patterns and come up with solutions that each accountant is able to present to their clients. If the client is amenable to the solutions, we get the opportunity to meet the client. If the client is not, the accountant continues in their relationship and gets credibility for recommending solutions that can bring additional value to the client.
Like this example there are many others that weave in estate planning attorneys, bankers and other accounting firms. Working in the backdrop and allowing other professionals to present the solutions has proven to be very successful on multiple levels. It simply is a question of understanding their perspective, the clients’ perspective, and our articulation and management of how we position the solutions and synergy.”
Hortz: Any final thoughts for financial advisors reading this interview on how your approach has helped grow business and competitiveness for you and your allied professionals in your community?
Jennings: I found that simply having conversations and recognizing the needs of like-minded accountants, estate planning attorneys, and bankers provides much more value than trying to “pitch” an idea to folks we have never connected with before. There are many more hurdles involved within the “cold” relationship building process. Our process was made to be efficient, effective, and put the clients’ needs and timeline first. It truly is amazing how many folks simply do not know what they do not know. Through allied relationships that serve as the infrastructure to our family office approach, we are able to do our job exceedingly well while growing our sphere of influence for ourselves and all our allied partners with High Net Worth families who have a genuine need for financial assistance.
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