Routing money in creative ways, investing in emerging ideas, bolstering financial health — these are the cruxes of Opto Investments’ mission. The path to financial progress is intricate and winding, but collaboration between Opto Investments’ diverse teams offers a guiding light.
“We work in an extremely complicated space,” said Head of Advisory Services Nick Downer. “When we’re clear on what we are working on, who is responsible for what and what common goal we are working toward, we thrive.”
Navigating the complexities of the fintech landscape calls for an intentionally crafted culture of transparency and partnership, wherein each team member has the opportunity to share their expertise.
“Trust and rapport form the foundation upon which effective collaboration, transparency, open communication and shared goals can flourish,” said Zo Chatoor, an investment operations team member.
Head of Content Richard Wells agrees.
“As a company, we set culture from the top with frank discussions actively participated in by functional leads,” said Wells. “Collaboration is a muscle that needs constant exercise.”
WHAT OPTO INVESTMENTS DOES
Opto Investments connects financial advisors to the tools and resources they need to access alternative investments. It is on a mission to ensure that the financial system is routing money to the best ideas while helping people build and protect their long-term financial health.
When it comes to creating meaningful alignment between team members, Downer homes in on touchpoints — structured and organic — between colleagues. Increased adoption of Slack, standing video meetings and other modes of messaging serve as impactful tools for collaboration.
“As a hybrid-remote company, we emphasize the importance of connectivity in our workspace,” he said.
To nurture this sense of connection, Opto Investments encourages its team members to engage in conversations between teams. Active participation creates a positive cycle in which team members feel valued, cross-collaborative ties are strengthened and the customer experience flourishes.
“It’s key that everyone knows their voices are being heard here,” said Downer. “When team members are empowered to give input and make changes, you see higher levels of engagement.”
As a means of cultivating open conversation, Downer starts with regular check-ins. In the spirit of building rapport and sustaining healthy lines of communication, he tailors his outreach to each team member’s needs.
“I do my best to meet people where they feel most comfortable communicating: Slack, email, phone call, video and so on,” he said. “It’s vital to understand different work styles first, so we can work on solving problems together more efficiently.”
A cohesive working environment strengthens deliverables, facilitates learning and smoothes “pinch points,” said Downer.
“We know things are going well when stakeholders understand their role in the process and we can all work in parallel to meet a common objective,” he added.
As a participant in said process, Downer stays curious, asking questions of experts and keeping his eyes on the bigger picture at Opto Investments.
“I have learned and come to appreciate the different approaches people take and how collaboration can be a multiplier in the process,” he said.
In the process of cultivating cohesion, Wells leans on two pillars: “Communication and culture,” which are the keys to cross-functional collaboration, he said.
“You can create numerous formal touch-points to facilitate collaboration — software vendors to centralize and prioritize tasks, weekly meetings for each team, monthly meetings for functional leads and so on,” he said. “But the process also calls for informal spaces: face-to-face weekly meetings and Slack channels through which collaboration and alignment are facilitated.”
To construct these pillars, Wells utilizes an intentional process.
“First and foremost, overcommunicate,” he said, noting that in-person discussions are a vital piece of the equation.
Next, embrace an ownership mindset.
“If you embrace such a mindset and effectively establish it as culture, then you should automatically recognize that organizational goals and needs trump those of your team,” he said.
“Naturally, empathy follows — and integrating other teams’ priorities and perspectives into your work becomes a natural process,” he added.
From this empathy flows a connection to the broader organization — and a strengthening of company values.
“I like to encourage my team to exemplify our values of courage, ownership and partnership,” he said.
Logistically, Wells and his colleagues leverage software to track progress and assess projects. Effective collaboration can be measured in outputs, basic ROIs and how they translate into positive broader business outcomes.
“On a day-to-day basis, you can see how effective collaboration and alignment provide the clarity everyone needs to visualize a project’s goal and the steps needed to get there,” Wells said.
“Not to sound like a stuck record, but creating open communication channels promotes collaboration,” he added. “These channels ensure the best ideas have space to win and set a culture that prizes alignment by exemplifying it.”
“The method I leverage to better understand my colleagues is learning about their roles and putting myself in their shoes,” said Chatoor. “I actively take steps to better understand my colleagues and the work they’re doing.”
In a startup environment, diverse perspectives lead to better discussions and elevated client outcomes, Chatoor noted: “Sharing knowledge and ideas across the organization is core to the success of our business.”
OPTO INVESTMENTS’ APPROACH TO CROSS-FUNCTIONAL COLLABORATION
- Shared goals and objectives. “This fosters unity and ensures we all work toward a common objective.”
- Clear communication channels. “These facilitate updates, project tracking and information sharing; they include weekly cross-functional meetings, where we discuss our progress and work through any challenges.”
- Tools and technology. “Technology helps hold each team accountable for their responsibilities and promotes a culture of openness and transparency.”
Offsites. “Both companywide and team-specific gatherings throughout the year build relationships and foster new ideas.”
As a result, every team member has the opportunity to wear many proverbial hats — sharpening their skills and strengthening the organization in the process.
“In actively seeking to understand coworkers on different teams, I have learned that every perspective matters and that collaboration is enhanced when we acknowledge each other’s strengths, challenges and unique contributions,” said Chatoor.
“We truly believe teamwork makes the dream work.”