1st December 2020

“Why we built our brand from the inside-out” In conversation with Gaynor Rigby, Managing Partner of Equilibrium Financial Planning

We’ve been speaking to some of the financial brands we love and admire the most. Here, Laura talks to Gaynor Rigby, Managing Partner of Equilibrium Financial Planning, a business that’s been in the top ten of ‘The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For’ for the past four years. 

Tell me about your brand and why people love it.

“When I joined the business around 10 years ago, we had about 20 staff doing financial planning and investment management. A lot of people are doing both now, but back then it was quite niche, especially for such a small firm. Since I joined, we’ve been on a journey with the brand – our sole purpose is to make people’s lives better, and everything we do is very much about that. We started off focusing more on the team and what we wanted it to be like as a place to work. And then it grew organically into what we do for our clients. It’s an approach that’s replicated in a great book called Vivid Vision which talks about your mission statement not as a paragraph, but why you do what you do and how you bring it to life. It’s a kind of inside-out approach but it works.”

What 3 words best describe your brand?

“Friendly, authentic, agile.”

How do you think you can evidence that a brand is loved?

“I think one thing is that your clients stick around. We’ve got a very high retention rate and rarely lose them once they come on board. We survey them so we don’t take it for granted and while everyone likes to think they’re doing a great job, the proof is in the pudding.”

What has helped your brand grow?

“I think our focus on culture and the team is probably the core of that. We have spent a lot of time and energy on ensuring that this is a great place to work. And when that is the case, it attracts a person that wants to be part of something other than turning up, churning through some reports and leaving at the end of the day. We attract people that are interested in making a difference. We’ve also been agile to what’s going on in the marketplace – even creating our own funds to give people a better return.”

How will you grow your brand in the future?

“We have moved a lot online and are lucky that our demographic lends itself to that – we’ve all become pretty savvy with Zoom and Teams. Our next thing to figure out, is the lifecycle of someone that interacts with us over that technology. Zoom is totally different to an in-person journey. So we are getting our MI really good so that we can see what’s happening at every stage, where we might need to fine-tune and add in those personal touches.”

“Communication is a big thing for us. We’ve had a marketing department since we were a very new company, but it’s ensured there’s consistency and a professional element to what we do.”

What would you tell yourself if you were starting the business today?

“It’s terrible to say, but I would do what I did. The advice too early wouldn’t have worked. So some of what we have done now, we wouldn’t have been able to deal with and it wouldn’t have landed if we had done it too early. But if I were to say one thing, it would be to delegate sooner.”

How can we make financial service brands more well-loved?

“I think if you can be clear on what it is that you’re trying to deliver and the purpose of it, then use that as the filter, then I think the genuineness and the authenticity of a lot of brands would shine through. Then hopefully, those that are just in it to make big bucks at whatever expense would get overshadowed.”

What’s your favourite app or tech right now?

“Internally, Asana is our favourite. We’ve got an Asana champion, Tony who we call our Chief Transformation Officer. He has a real passion for systems, processes and technology and how we apply that in the business – and really helped us out with Asana when we didn’t really know how to use it. So he’s been a godsend.”

What’s your best business book/podcast recommendation?

“A book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading early on in my career was The Five Temptations of the CEO by Patrick Lencioni. He also wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which is like a fable with some great business messages in it. Another one, which is more like a textbook on how you should run your business, is called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. If there is a book that anyone asks if they should read in order to run a business, it’s this one.”

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