Composable Brand

by Tom Bradley

While attending the Collision conference last June, I heard Sairah Ashman speak. She is the Global CEO of Wolff Olins, a New York-based consulting firm. She caught my attention with a concept I’d never heard of before — composable brands.

If I’m interpreting it correctly, she’s referring to the fact that different people use a brand, or company, in different ways. They make it what they want and use it to fit their own situation. For instance, I’m on Spotify with millions of other music fans, but my Spotify is unique to me. It’s my Spotify.

Starbucks might be another example. People know exactly what they want — i.e., venti; dark roast; double shot of espresso; triple shot of mocha; nutmeg; half caff extra hot.

This composable concept got me thinking about how our clients use Steadyhand. We didn’t know the term when we started, but we are indeed a composable company.

We have 4,000 clients who trust us to manage their money. The engagements range across a wide spectrum. The core of our client base are families that have most, or all, of their retirement savings with us. They have balanced portfolios and rely on one of our Investor Specialists for advice and guidance.

We also have young people who are just starting out on their investment journey.

We have do-it-yourself investors who come to us strictly for one or more of our funds. Some occasionally use us as a sounding board, but many don’t.

We have many clients who have developed a plan with an independent, advice-only financial planner. In some cases, we get involved in fine-tuning the strategy, but often we simply execute the plan using our fund lineup.

Some clients like to deal with one Specialist only. Others get to know and use a number of our team members.

And as you can probably tell, we have clients who have accounts ranging from $10,000 to many millions.

If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound that unusual, try going to an investment advisor, bank branch, robo-advisor or counseling firm and do something that doesn’t exactly fit their way of operating.

We’re more composable because we have few rules, barriers, and labels. We don’t have gold, silver, and bronze clients. We have clients who all get the same quarterly statement, quarterly report, and access to personal advice.

We offer an array of resources from our well-followed blog to monthly newsletter to a website that includes detailed fund information, performance data, and retirement planning tools.

To be clear, we have limits. Our fees are low for the service we provide, so we need to be highly efficient and rely on our clients to reach out to us whenever needed (rather than us calling them every quarter). Our business model is such that clients determine how they want to be served. They’re able to make it ‘My Steadyhand’, whatever that means to them. It’s a rarity in our industry, for sure, which gets me thinking that perhaps Steadyhand is the ultimate composable investment company.

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