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Secrets to Managing Multiple Offices

With the growth of the RIA channel and active M&A environment, many firms are branching out and opening new offices. But how do you manage a business across multiple locations without diminishing firm culture and employee productivity? Employee travel and open communication are key drivers to sustaining a business long-term.

“If you look at the expenses in our business, it’s compensation of personnel; the traveling doesn’t move the needle a whole lot and so we actively encourage our employees—especially from New York since we have such a concentration there—to go visit the other offices and work from them,” Richard Hough, president and CEO of Silvercrest Asset Management Group, said Wednesday at Pershing Advisor Solution’s regional symposium.

“The exchange of ideas, the familiarity of knowing each other and building a closer relationship has benefits far beyond a specific agenda item you want to get accomplished,” Hough said, adding the firm also has four events a year where it brings everyone together, as well as an annual employee recognition event.
Silvercrest also eschews email, encouraging employees to walk down the hall to talk to each other or pick up the phone. The mindset has helped foster mutual understanding and agreement among employees, Hough said.

Jim Pratt-Heaney, founding partner of LLBH d/b/a Coastal Bridge Advisors, said face-to-face communication is especially key when opening new offices in far-away locations.  LLBH d/b/a Coastal Bridge Advisors, based in Westport, Conn., is two weeks into a major expansion to open an office in Central City, Calif., Pratt-Heaney said. The firm is trying to be smart about launching the new office, but also realized sometimes that just sending employees out there to “hang out” has benefits.  About half of the firm’s business in on the West Coast now, compared to just a quarter a few years ago, he said.

“Take your mind off of saving money and how much does it cost to do something, how much does it cost to send this person here and just say look, this is where we’re going down the road and we’re going to have to invest now,” he said, adding that LLBH d/b/a Coastal Bridge Advisors has used creative cost controls so that no one panics over the upfront costs of the new office.

By Megan Leonhardt

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February 2015