What’s in a consulting firm’s name? A vision for growth

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Since the early 2000s, it’s been the strategy of HR and employee benefit consulting firm Findley Davies to grow both organically and through acquisitions. By the time Wells Fargo approached the Columbus, Ohio-based company about acquiring one of its consulting divisions, BPS&M (Bryan, Pendleton, Swats & McAllister), in late 2015, Findley Davies had already brought in several other businesses. So, it’s no surprise John Weber, managing principal, and Betsy Hammond, principal and chief operating officer, created a long-term strategy from the get-go for successfully incorporating Brentwood, Tenn.-based BPS&M into the fold.

Part of the 2016 merger deal was to change the firm’s name to Findley Davies | BPS&M for a period of time. With that timeframe up, the company is now known as Findley. But the planning process for the rebrand involved more than simply setting a date for the name change and building a new logo.

More than a year ago, company leadership set about producing a “brand promise” designed to reinforce Findley’s vision and set a strong pace of growth for its more than 250 associates in all 50 states. “We took it as an opportunity to really define who we are, not just slapping a name out there with a new logo,” says Hammond.

The company’s consulting and administration services for clients across nearly all industries include working with retirement plans, health and group benefits, change management, actuarial services, ESOPs and compensation and rewards.

Findley representatives interviewed some of the firm’s more than 2,000 clients of all sizes to hear firsthand about what they found valuable in working with Findley. The brand promise — “Flexible, Innovative, Nimble, Dynamic, Loyal, Experienced and integritY” — arose in part from those talks, Hammond says. “We think that really articulates well who we are in the marketplace,” she adds.

Company-wide effort
Findley has offices in Chicago; Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio and Toledo, Ohio; Louisville, Ky. and Nashville. In undergoing the name change, the firm did not do a broad employee survey, but rather incorporated two internal groups into the planning process, explains Nancy Pokorny, principal. One was the company’s “culture action team,” which represents employees broadly, and the other was a rebranding committee consisting of company leadership, she says.

“One of the tasks that we've given the culture action team coming out of the rebranding is: ‘OK, this is the brand we want to be, are there areas internally that we need improvement in to make sure we live it inside as well as outside the firm?’” says Weber.

With its executives often spread out — Weber is based in Columbus and Hammond is in Nashville, for example — the team is accustomed to long-distance bonding. “We've made it work,” says Hammond. “We spent a lot of time together face-to-face as we've worked through our integration, and leverage technology to make sure that we're well-connected.”

To celebrate the rebranding and further foster that connection, the firm recently held Findley Day, a company-wide event to build excitement around the new logo and company vision. In addition to wearing orange and blue, employees received swag with the new logo and held celebratory events at each office.

“We're focused on being an employer of choice, a great place to work, because we want passionate people that are going to serve our clients the way that we want,” says Hammond.

Weber acknowledges the industry continues to change, but one thing that will remain steady at Findley is the company’s strategic commitment to grow through new markets, new services and continuing acquisitions.

“There are generational changes within firms. There are firms who want to become part of something bigger to make themselves more successful,” Weber says. “We are continuing to pursue an acquisition strategy and hopefully we would have similar success in identifying firms that would want to join Findley and become part of something bigger. And, hopefully, together we would be better.”

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