One of the most useful quotes which we use to help guide our strategy is from Lao Tzu:
‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be’
But how do you let go? Any business that has stable management, longevity of service and a long history could always struggle to let go of the past. It’s a tough thing to do, especially when you consider how many couldn’t – Blackberry, Nokia, Kodak and perhaps even Marks and Spencer.
Ultimately the reality is that it’s important to retain those elements which make the business unique whilst being highly aware of the changing world and trends. Over time we have worked hard to achieve this by protecting our heritage, reputation and commitment to client relationships whilst incorporating new approaches. These have included launching a staff pension fund and profit share scheme in the 1940s (ahead of many other businesses), embarking on an international tour programme in the 1960s (as air travel became more accessible) and introducing annual management fees for clients rather than revenue based commission (being the first firm in the UK to adopt this system).
In keeping with this innovative approach, we have recently established a Shadow Board. A Shadow Board sits outside of the core Leadership Team, providing support and challenge on a variety of matters relating to the running of the business. It tends to consist of a group of age-diverse employees from across teams, to create a wide source of feedback, opinions and ideas.
Our Shadow Board is made up of seven individuals, all aged under 35, from across our global offices. The first meeting was a very positive and interesting experience, with a range of inspiring discussions. We touched on key areas including our own communication streams, the wish for a greater level of understanding from staff about what the Board was currently focusing on and a real drive to see a greater purpose for the business other than profit and traditional markers of success.
Some of the main topics which the Shadow Board will be initially focusing on include promoting diversity in our workforce, helping to develop the concept of financial education (through partnerships with schools, communities, and financial literacy charities) and how we can play our part to tackle climate change. As a first step the Shadow Board are supporting some activities to help us embark on our refreshed corporate social responsibility strategy later this year.
From a strategic perspective it’s vital that we make sure that the important ‘voice’ of the Shadow Board is heard across the business and converted into meaningful, relevant action. There are of course obstacles, not least some of the challenges which face us given our global operations. For example, in tackling climate change and creating our environmental policy who would have thought it would be so hard to use solar power for our office in Dubai! Nevertheless, the introduction of our first Shadow Board is an exciting opportunity and we’ve already agreed some clear actions and measurable goals to keep us on track.
In creating a Shadow Board we are focused on moving forward, and continuing to develop a business we remain truly proud of and which stays relevant through the years.
To discuss becoming a client of The Fry Group please contact your nearest office.
Jeremy Woodley, Chief Executive Officer