It’s nothing new that financial advisors want to support their communities and “give back.” And it’s common for many of them to do things like organize food banks, volunteer at health clinic fun runs and serve firehouse pancake breakfasts.

But they are also coming to expect that from the culture at the companies they work for and affiliate with. And that can be a big deal when they are looking at joining a firm, so much so that a company’s track record of community service has now become a recruiting tool to find the best talent, industry experts said.

“Prospective hires are asking firms to define their culture, and this is one way a firm can clearly demonstrate what they’re about,” said Louis Diamond, president of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a recruiting firm that specializes in financial services.

“There’s a minimum amount that people expect companies to do,” he said. If, for example, their current employer matches so much in charitable donations, “they want to know their next employer will do at least that, if not more.” In fact, he said, it could be a deal breaker if a firm isn’t involved in the community or charitable giving.

Kelsey Ruwe agrees. Ruwe is on the front lines of the talent search in her work for the Omaha-Neb.-based Carson Group, where she’s the chief of staff in charge of recruiting, training and development, and community relations. She said financial professionals increasingly want to see the work they do reflect a greater purpose.

“It’s one of the first things they ask about,” she said. “They want to see the purpose of the company and how it aligns to their purpose. ‘How are you giving back to your community? How are you supporting your community?’”

Developing A Program From Scratch
Advisory firms that want to have more community impact need look no further than their own clients and employees for ideas, say experts.

Dan Wanous, the business development officer for Thrivent Advisor Network, says that it starts with asking clients what their current giving is when you bring them on board. You can then accelerate those conversations with your advisors.

Wanous said giving back is part of Thrivent’s corporate mission—financial planning that helps a community beyond the clients who walk through the door.

One of Thrivent’s network firms, IntentGen Financial Partners in Naperville, Ill., last year sponsored a “Party with a Purpose” benefit for local youth services. The event raised $55,000, which IntentGen matched, putting $110,000 to work in the community. The firm also challenged four local organizations to raise $5,000 each, which IntentGen also matched and boosted with another $20,000, a fund-raising effort that totaled $80,000.

Another Thrivent affiliate, Cedar Cove Wealth Partners in Bloomington, Minn., gives 10% of its annual profits to charitable causes, supports the giving of its employees through matching contributions, and promotes volunteerism by giving employees paid volunteer days off. Cedar Cove also creates company-wide opportunities to bond over a cause as a group.

If a firm’s employees like Habitat for Humanity, for example, Wanous said, the employees could actually do a home building project together. “Directing money to Habitat is huge, but there’s also so much value in swinging that hammer,” he said.

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