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Greenspring Advisors Core Value #1: “Love Your Neighbor”

Joshua P. Itzoe, CFP®, AIF®

Welcome to my third in a series of seven blog posts about the importance of culture, core purpose and core values at Greenspring Advisors.

In my first post, I shared the significance of culture at our firm and how our Core Purpose and Core Values form its cornerstone. In my second post, I discussed our Core Purpose which is why we exist and what we stand for at Greenspring Advisors.

This week I am going to begin sharing our five Core Values which embody how we live and behave at our firm. These principles define our company’s personality and life at the heart of our identity. They also provide clarity to our team about what we believe and how we expect everyone to act.

There are several important things to understand about our Core Values. First, we started with a lot more but ultimately chose to keep it to only five which was a challenge. We did this because we wanted to make it easy for our team to remember and internalize these values which would be difficult if there were too many to memorize. Second, these values are not “aspirational” which means they are not simply wishful thinking or traits we “hope” to embody or develop over time. They were things that already existed at the firm before we articulated them in a clear and formal way. And finally, our Core Values come naturally to us and because they are authentic we don’t need to work hard to cultivate them.

Our first (and most important) Core Value is what we call “Love Your Neighbor” which means being “others focused” and considering the interests of others before ourselves. It serves as our foundational Core Value and sets the tone for all the rest. Like our Core Purpose, it traces its origins back to our original mission statement which was to “serve others and make an impact in their lives.”

When we love someone it shows in our actions and how we treat them. We think of them before we think of ourselves. We support them. We have grace for them. We show them respect. We assume positive intent and give them the benefit of the doubt. We celebrate together. Living this way builds trust, teamwork, loyalty, and reciprocity and fosters a spirit of appreciation and respect for one another. In the workplace, it translates into a healthier environment when working closely together or dealing with conflict. I believe it’s one of the reasons people at Greenspring Advisors feel connected and committed to each other’s success.

In a culture where we are conditioned to primarily look out for ourselves loving others is not something that comes naturally and it’s not always easy. But I can’t overemphasize the power and impact this has on our relationships when we make loving others a priority. It’s a truly radical way to live.

Finally, loving your neighbor embodies the essence of what it means to be a fiduciary which is something we have fully embraced since our firm was founded. From Day 1, we built Greenspring Advisors on the simple idea that we serve our clients, not the other way around. One definition of a fiduciary is “a person to whom property or power is entrusted for the benefit of another.” It means to be responsible for that which belongs to someone else and places you in a position of trust and confidence. Fiduciary duty requires the highest degree of care and devotion. It’s also the highest obligation that the law can impose on a person.

One of the coolest things about this Core Value is seeing it in action at our firm. Let me share an example. Two weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend whose father-in-law had been a client and recently passed away. He also happens to be a long-time member of our advisory board and very familiar with our firm though he had never experienced being a client. He gave me permission to share this story. He relayed how impressed and appreciative he and his wife were for Molly Goetz and all her support throughout the process. He shared examples of how Molly had gone above and beyond the call of duty and been helpful in many ways they had not expected or anticipated. Most importantly, he shared that he and his wife felt “loved and cared for” throughout such a difficult and emotional time in their lives.

When you “love your neighbor” it makes an impact on other people. They remember it. They feel it. And they appreciate it.  In this example, Molly was embodying our Core Values.

At Greenspring Advisors, we look for people who are others-focused. We want people who think of others first, who are motivated to help others and who want to make a difference. It’s non-negotiable. And when you get a group of people together who make living this way a priority it creates a culture of appreciation, respect, and reciprocity that’s hard to beat. It’s one of the reasons I love coming to work and being part of such a special group of people.

Next week I’ll discuss our second Core Value which is “Own Your Stuff”. Thanks for reading!