I spent much of my early career with Marotta as a web and graphic designer. In 2007, I was asked to design Marotta Wealth Management a new logo. Our previous branding had been an all-caps “MAROTTA” written in the one dollar font, but we had come to a point where we wanted a graphic. We wanted to be able to brand our letterhead, envelopes, and more as distinctly Marotta. We traveled through a wide variety of options before we found our logo.
We knew what we didn’t want. We didn’t want any of the overused financial planning logo ideas like mountains, pyramids, sailing ships, lighthouses, compasses, acorns, oak trees, sunrises, globes, chess pieces, pillars, upward graphs, dollar signs, or initials. Despite that, as with many firm branding journeys, we started on realistic image ideas.
One of our rejected realistic logos involved the depiction of a flying owl. The team had wanted to see an array of owl options, so I had spent days drawing owls before we realized we wanted something more abstract. With owls on my mind and those drawings littering the table, I doodled a stylistic version of the owl’s outstretched wings in the midst of the meeting. We liked it and that very doodle became the source for our logo.
After I designed our logo, we partnered with a web and graphic design firm to help us use our logo to streamline our branding. They were doing great work for us, but then one of their employees was hit by a bus. He was in critical care at the hospital.
This firm was obviously hurting from this news personally, but they also were hurting professionally. The injured employee was the only one who had access to certain files or was able to perform certain aspects of their job. This little company, who was doing great work one day, was struggling to stay in business the next. They ended up asking us to find a new firm to work with.
This experience was a great lesson for us and helped to shape Marotta Wealth Management’s culture. Shortly after the experience, we had a meeting where we talked about what we would need to do if each of us were hit by a bus. This formed our first written recovery plan, and it has been my job to design and refine that plan ever since.
Because of this formative event, recovery planning is part of our firm culture. Each of us are expected to work like one day someone else might need to step in and do the work for us.
We design our roles and responsibilities with duplication, training at least two people in how to do every specialty or task.
We require each employee write documentation on how to do their job in case they are ever unable to do it.
We keep detailed shared notes of where we are in projects, in designing financial plans, or in a process.
We have a shared task management system with clear workflows, making it easy for anyone to jump in and keep a task going.
This means that if anyone, even myself or David John Marotta, were to not be able to work tomorrow, we would simply take out our recovery plan and keep going. In truth, it is this disaster recovery plan that we use every time one of us goes on a long vacation, takes maternity leave, or asks for a sabbatical.
We pride ourselves on regularly and seamlessly offering our services regardless of who is working and who is taking time off.
While any of our absences will mean more responsibility will fall onto various team members’ shoulders, we have prepared for this contingency and regularly provide the same high quality service regardless.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash