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Irene Giman: Building a culture of volunteerism at your RIA firm

Cultivating a culture of volunteerism can serve as a powerful differentiator in the competitive wealth management industry.

Beyond the bottom line, engaging in community service not only enriches the lives of those served but also fosters a sense of purpose and fulfillment among team members.
In a recent Action! magazine article, we profiled RTD Financial, one RIA firm that is building a culture where giving back is not only encouraged but embraced as an integral part of the company ethos.
I caught up with Irene Giman, Senior Financial Planner with RTD Financial, and she expanded on how embracing volunteerism has elevated her firm's impact – from enhancing employee morale to strengthening client relationships and bolstering brand reputation. Click the video below for some helpful tips to get you started in building a similar program. 


Suleman Din: Why is it important for firms to invest time and resources into creating a culture of volunteerism at their firm?

Irene Giman: Well, it brings the employees together, we become a community. Here we are the RTD community, going out into our extended community, into the Philadelphia community. And you know, it's wonderful – it's a way of bringing people together. Then, of course, serving – you know, there is the feel-good about going out into the community and helping.

Din: What about a firm that isn't in a big city that has a need, like Philadelphia, but they're in their own community? What's the rationale that you would explain to them? Obviously, the bigger the city, there are more needs, there are more opportunities to volunteer. For a firm that's not situated in an urban area – but thinking about volunteerism – what's the benefit for them?

Giman: There are benefits to the community, but there's the benefit to the firm too – of bringing people together and working for something together that's outside of just themselves. There's a tremendous benefit to that. You don't have to be in a city, I mean, there are needs in small towns. Even if it's not the local community, there are things that you can do together – whether it's packing care packages for the troops overseas – it can be things you do together, that maybe is serving outside the community. Please find me a town that doesn't have some sort of need, that would be wonderful, and then we can duplicate it everywhere.

Din: What's one sort of actionable tip for the readers who pick up this issue and see that checklist, they see the story about RTD and its volunteerism, and they're like, ‘Hey, I want to do that, I want to kind of get into that too.” What is one actionable tip that you would share with anyone who's going to read that article about how to really get started?

Giman: I think the most important thing to do is have it go firmwide – so that every employee has a voice and can say what's important to them. That's where you start getting your buy-in. When you have the employee buy-in, there's meaning involved, people are doing it and really feeling something good about it and wanting to do it. As opposed to, “Yeah, this is what we got to do.”

Din: Any other tips that you would offer to someone who is beginning a volunteer culture out and wants more of that buy-in?

Giman: It does have to be determined at the leadership level whether this is a “time thing,” a “money thing” or both. And then put somebody in charge of running it – maybe not the owner of the company or the CEO of the company – but somebody else who can start getting that input from other people. But that decision does have to be made at the leadership level, whether we're willing to give time or money. What we're doing in RTD now is that you get a paid day off, a day of service. So if you're participating in these events that we're putting together it's on company time. And maybe you can't participate, maybe you're too busy, something's going on or it's not speaking to you, but you’re able to do something else on a weekend. You can get a day off and make up for it during the week, which is wonderful.

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