On Culture

by John Coyne, President, Brinker Capital

When I was a newly minted stockbroker, I was working on a presentation of two different investments to a potential client when a grizzled, old veteran walked by and asked me what I was doing. After I explained, he looked me in the eye and said, “Remember, every investment should do three things, it should be good for the client, it should be good for the firm and it should be good for you…and two out of three ain’t bad.”

He walked away laughing at what was clearly an old broker joke, but it is a memory that stays with me as clearly as it did 30 years ago. The incredible flap over the recent New York Times op-ed piece from a mid-level Goldman Sachs employee gave me pause to remember it again, and to reflect on Brinker’s founding 25 years ago this week.

I have had the privilege of knowing countless numbers of professionals, from retail producers to financial industry executives at the most senior level, who have the highest ethical standards and have spent countless hours creating investment products and strategies to make individuals and institutions successful. Like all industries—housing, autos, defense, etc.—we all have seen examples of greed and corruption replacing values and mission.

The founders of Brinker saw it as well at some of the institutions we had worked in previous organizations and have strived since inception to keep investor and advisor success as our principal focus. We are proudest of the fact that when advisors are asked why they do business with us, the say it is because they trust us to do the right thing and not just for investment performance.

We are proud capitalists, don’t get me wrong, but we believe that the key to building a profitable investment management company, or any company for that matter, is to stay focused on the consumer in product, price and service. We also believe that when leadership, which couldn’t be more different in style between Chuck, Noreen and myself, is founded on shared values, it will create an atmosphere that is absorbed by the whole company. That’s our culture and we’re sticking to it.

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