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3 min read

Culture Hero Series: Chris Catliff, BlueShore Financial

"We know that culture can make or break an organization, and that companies whose culture is aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors."

"We know that culture can make or break an organization, and that companies whose culture is aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors"

Name: Chris Catliff
Title: President and CEO
Organization: BlueShore Financial

1. Tell us a bit about your organization and what it is trying to accomplish.

BlueShore Financial is a $3 billion boutique financial institution recognized for our high standard of financial planning advisory services, unique Financial Spa branches, and strong, long-term, personal relationships with clients. We operate throughout the Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky corridor.

2. Tell us a bit about yourself and your leadership style?

I believe a leader must dream big, innovate and respectfully challenge the status quo. My style is hands-on and action-oriented.

In order for a vision to be successful, your entire team must be “on the bus” so I encourage an environment of open communication, transparent expectations and a “can-do” attitude.

3. What is special about your organization's culture? How do you emphasize this?

We are a values-based organization—it’s important to us that our corporate values align with our employees’ personal values.

We know that culture can make or break an organization, and that companies whose culture is aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors.

We have profitably grown at a 12% compound annual growth rate for over a decade.

We emphasize clarity of purpose, employee engagement, strong trust, effective leadership, performance-based rewards, consistent communication and superior financial results.

4. Have you ever tried to shift or change a culture? How did that play out? What advice would you give to a CEO struggling to shift their organization’s culture?

Nearly a decade ago I launched a new vision for BlueShore Financial, to evolve from a community credit union to a financial boutique serving an affluent market. This had not been done before. We engaged staff in the process and worked hard to ensure staff not only understood the rationale for change, but were also excited and committed to it. While some opted-out, those who stayed became highly engaged brand ambassadors committed to exceptional performance. Employees’ attitudes evolved from “renters” to “owners”, meaning they take ownership of our business outcomes. Our employee engagement scores and employee practices have been industry leading year over year, earning us a spot on Canada’s “50 Best Small and Medium Employers” list and “Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures” list.

The most practical piece of advice I can offer others is to recognize the critical importance of open communication in times of change. Be consistent, repetitive and authentic.

Be honest with your staff about your vision and what you need to do to accomplish it.

Tell them why you are changing and what you hope to gain from the change.

Remember too, that communication is a two-way street. Set the direction--you don’t have to provide all the answers. Ask your staff for their input, actively listen to what they have to say, and show you value their perceptions and opinions. By doing this you will form a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, which will make easier for you to initiate and integrate change together.

5. How does having a great culture impact your business and bottom line?

It has a significant effect. If a staff member doesn’t believe in the organization’s vision or strategic goals, they will never be as happy or perform as well as a staff member who does.

6. Any particular tactics or techniques that have helped you bring your culture to life?

Our culture is expressed through our values which we bring to life with every action and interaction. These four values, that we collectively defined, are: 360° accountability, sophisticated experience, balance and progressive spirit. From the way we do business, to employee benefits, to our relationships with co-workers, these all come together to create our positive culture.

7. What question did you want to answer that we failed to ask?

I guess my life learning as a career banker is that I used to think it was all about the money, the deals, rates of return and the systems. I have learned it’s all about the collective vision, values and people. With the right goals and a can-do attitude, the rest follows, so that is my focus as a leader. The money follows.

About Jostle's CIO Series

At Jostle we recognize the importance of leadership in making social collaboration work inside of organizations. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we sought out some of the top social CIO’s in North America to participate in a Jostle Blog series that focuses on the challenges and successes of applying social tools. We are happy to share these success stories with you and we hope it inspires the social champion in all of you. If you know a Social CIO you feel should be included in this series, please contact us at CIO@jostle.me. There is no requirement that they be using the Jostle People Engagement® platform.

About BlueShore Financial

BlueShore Financial is a boutique financial institution providing a full range of personal and business banking, wealth management, insurance and commercial lending solutions. For more than 70 years, BlueShore Financial has helped clients achieve financial wellness through personalized solutions and expert advice – all delivered in a unique Financial Spa™ branch environment. BlueShore Financial has 12 branches across the Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky Corridor and administers $3 billion in assets. It has been consistently ranked among the top 20 financial planning firms in Metro Vancouver.

As one of Canada's Best Small and Medium Employers, BlueShore Financial is proud of an organizational culture that is client-focused, results-driven and inclusive. A designated Caring Company by the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, the company donates a minimum of 1% of pre-tax profits annually to charities and not-for-profit organizations within the communities it serves.

For more information, visit blueshorefinancial.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @blueshorenews or connect with us on facebook.com/blueshorefinancial.

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