From office moves and staffing changes to major client successes and
It doesn’t seem that long ago now, but on February 5th, 2016, our Florence team left our previous firm and decided to strike out and open our own company in partnership with Raymond James Financial Services. In honor of our 3 year anniversary, we would like to take this week to reflect on and appreciate the challenging, exciting and rewarding ride that this journey has been for us so far.
On the first day that Signature officially began,
we opened in a temporary office space, and our entire team was working literally in one area that’s about the size of our two current conference rooms put together. We could easily reach out and touch our team members without even really trying. To say the least, it was very close quarters (and probably smaller than some walk-in closets). It was a wild experience that really demonstrated the cohesiveness and fellowship of our initial team. You know, they joke in the estate planning world that if you ever want to really get to know somebody, share an inheritance with them. But in the working world, I think the equivalent to that is if you ever want to get to know somebody, share an (arguably tiny) office with them.
In those early days, the size or appearance of our office space just didn’t even seem to matter. We were so busy rolling up our sleeves, collaborating and working tirelessly to build an amazing company that we hardly noticed the close quarters. We knew from its inception that we were building something that was different, something that would be big and very special. We didn’t need physical barriers breaking down that spirit of growth, grit, and teamwork. We were focused on bringing clients on board, consistently learning how to serve their unique needs best and forging a path forward for the group. This phase is truly representative of just how Signature has grown steadily through these years, with a passion for the industry and collaborative, client-focused expertise (and thankfully, more space now).
Signature was born out of the belief that every client, their life and their future goals are unique and require individualized attention.
Above all, we wanted to build a company that really honored that and allowed us to embrace our innovative ideas about creating new services and experiences for our clients. Frankly, we felt constrained in our old world. We felt held back from giving our very best to clients, and that just wouldn’t do. This was the tipping point of deciding if we wanted the game to change, we needed to change it. It has always been our vision to build something that provided the best possible experience for our clients and gave us the freedom to help craft plans tailored for their specific life, situations, and desires. We believed that finances, investments and wealth building simply shouldn’t be treated as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience, and fulfilling that wasn’t possible within the confines of our regional broker-dealer framework.
After a brief period in our temporary office, we returned to our main office in Florence and began the process of building a bigger organization. We believed in our vision of creating something that had the ability to expand outside of the Florence market. We didn’t want to expand just because we wanted to have lots of offices and growth for growth’s sake, but more importantly, because we felt like there were capabilities and valuable expertise that were available outside of just our local area.
For us, the idea of expanding really came with the idea that by leveraging resources and partnerships with other advisors, we could provide a better service and experience to our client. We were fortunate enough to be able to partner with a team initially in early 2017 who helped bring these aspirations to life, John Chidwick and Tripp Thompson in Charlotte. They brought extensive experience in insurance and annuity markets to the table. Both of them had been at an executive level within several insurance and annuity companies. In addition, we also partnered with Scott Whitley, who had previously spent more than 20 years with Raymond James Financial Services, the last part of which was actually as a regional director over the Mid-Atlantic Region.
The ability to bring in industry professionals who had complementary skills to our team in Florence was the beginning of the ability to provide even more experience to our clients.
It’s been a wonderful two years with this group of people and since then we have had the good fortune of adding many additional offices and specialists to our team. Some additions to the group include the office in Spartanburg which focuses on first generation entrepreneurs, and a team in Lexington, Kentucky. Our Lexington group is an all-female team that focuses on female executives and really has added a lot of great perspective to Signature as a whole. Most recently, we have added a few groups from the North Carolina coast, as well as Hickory. All of whom bring unique skills and capabilities to the table. What we know is that as we build a community of advisors, we have a vast number of years of education, experience and insights to pull from to best serve our clients. If one advisor runs into something that’s new, there’s someone in our community who has handled it before. And, although each of our advisors in Florence had 20 years or more of experience, it’s always nice to be able to lean on other professionals who can give you a different point of view. We truly believe that life’s a team sport and we’re better together.
So when it comes to you, as our client, we want you to know that the first three years have been excellent from a growth perspective. However, this is not because we have more advisors but because we’re able to offer more and better services and an enhanced experience to you. Our focus isn’t on being big, it’s on being great. We want to make sure that you know that as we grow, our focus is on continuing to add new and better capabilities and team members with enhanced, new, or different specialties. Continuing this mission allows us to ensure that we will only be adding more resources that are beneficial to each and every client, regardless of where their primary advisor is located.
We expect in the coming years to be adding even more in terms of our capabilities and different enhancements (many of which are already in the works). As always, we welcome and value any input that our clients may have. At the end of the day, our sole purpose is to help you plan your future with confidence and help make the lives of you and your family better. We are very grateful to you, our clients, for the faith that you’ve put in us. We just want you to know your confidence in allowing us to serve you is not something that we take lightly and we’re excited about continuing to improve and grow, for all of us.
Thank you for these past three years, and cheers to many more.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.