As part of my series about the “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Kadet.
Greg is the Market Head for UBS Greater Florida. He is a key member of UBS Global Wealth Management’s Leadership Team and has worked for UBS more than 23 years. Prior to his current role as Market Head, Greg held positions with UBS as the Atlantic Region Executive Director, Branch Manager of offices in suburban St. Louis, Assistant Branch Manager in Chicago and Account Vice President and Financial Advisor in Denver, CO. He began as a financial advisor in Phoenix, AZ. Through his experiences and various roles at UBS, Greg has developed strategic thinking that is crucial to meeting client and employee needs. Outside of work, Greg stays involved in his local community by serving as a board member for several organizations: Tampa Downtown Partnership, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, David A. Straz Center and Leadership Tampa. He is also an enthusiastic sports fan, soccer coach and surfer. Greg and his wife Brooke live in Tampa, Florida with their two teenage children, Jake and Anna. Greg received his Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Growing up, my mom had started her own business and I worked with her there, so I was always used to an entrepreneurial mindset. I graduated from Arizona State University and immediately launched my career as a Financial Advisor in Phoenix. After a few years of getting some experience there, I moved to Denver to start work with UBS.
I served in several positions with UBS over the years, but I realized that leadership was where my passions were. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and for me, that meant leading others. Leadership was always in my blood. I’m passionate about helping others. I was even the president of my fraternity in college, which had over 220 members.
I’ve been working in Tampa as the Managing Director for over 10 years, overseeing 8 offices on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I was recently promoted to the Market Head of Greater Florida, which expanded its reach to 15 offices and over 300 employees.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I was working with a bunch of other young professionals, we had to do a lot of cold calling, which wasn’t always that much fun. We made it into a bit of a game and would make rubber band balls that we’d throw at each other during the calls.
Well, I was on a call that ended up being really great, but my coworkers weren’t letting up with the game. I ended up closing a client while being pelted with rubber band balls.
Oddly, what I learned from those days is that you have to be good at thinking on your feet. You always have to stay focused while things are coming at and hitting you — sometimes literally.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
There’s one really great leadership book I still have from Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” I first read it about 15 years ago when it was gifted to me. Goldsmith is an executive coach and has worked with a lot of great leaders over the years. He took all that knowledge and found the top 25 or so challenges, broken out into a chapter each, that leaders typically face and wrote out how to identify them. What’s great is you can read through the challenge and figure out “okay, I’m good at this,” or “I’m okay with this,” or “I need some work here.” Then you can go straight to the chapters that you need to work on.
I also love podcasts because I can listen to them while I’m getting ready or working out. They’re also really easy to send to people when they’re helpful, which lets them know you’re thinking about them.
My favorite podcast is EntreLeaderhship by Dave Ramsey. It’s made for both leaders and entrepreneurs, so it gives me both points of view that are important for me and my advisors.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now at UBS in the Greater Florida Market? How do you think that will help people?
We do a lot of work specifically for women and small businesses — they’re huge focus areas for us.
UBS has done a lot of research on women and finances with the Own Your Worth Report, and the reality can be concerning. While women are often in charge of short-term finances, overall, men traditionally manage long-term finances such as investing. One of the problems with that is that women live longer, so in a situation like being unexpectedly widowed or divorced, they can be in for a surprise. We focus on bringing awareness to this and educating people around it.
With small businesses, many of our clients need our help because they’ve either sold their business or inherited one. We help them figure out how they can do business today and plan for the future. How do they pass their business on to someone else? Do they sell it, and if so, how? Do they want to grow it and acquire other businesses?
As someone whose mother started her own business, both of these projects are near and dear to me.
Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the central focus of our discussion. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I got into leadership at 28 and took over my first office, my only vision was surviving and doing my job well. I had two kids and was running my first business. I think that if you ask any 28-year-old what their vision is, you’re not going to get a lot of answers that are close to “find a cure for cancer” or “feed the homeless”.
That being said, I’ve since learned that slow and steady wins the race. I would say my vision now is to lead with your core values. For me, that’s people first. Think about your community. Be humble. Understand that you’re not always going to have all the answers.
People buy what’s in their chests before what’s in their heads. But they won’t hire you unless you appeal to both. You need to have a good value system to do that. Be good to other people, and that includes both your clients and the community.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle is people first. There are a few ways to live that principle. One is a value I call straight-talk. Be authentic and be transparent with people.
I also always try to understand others. You may not always agree with everyone, but you should be empathetic and figure out their world view. Where did they come from? Where to they want to go?
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
Most of our clients come from other trusted advisors who work with them as attorneys, accountants, etc. These other types of advisors have the same values as us and let their clients know that. We also meet new clients socially. Through volunteering, or groups on mutual interest.
If a fellow CEO would ask you for advice about whether to bootstrap or to look for VC capital, how would you help them weigh the pros and cons of that decision?
When it comes to this dilemma, I’d start asking questions. Walk me through how you got to this point. What’s your business’ history? What do you personally see as the pros and cons of each of these?
I’d want to know what you’re thinking. How much of the work have you done already? You need to ask yourself a lot of discovery questions. That’s how you can tell where you may be leaning and explore what would happen in each scenario. You may end up somewhere unexpected after a collaborative process.
What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?
If someone came to me with this question, I’d point them in the direction of a leading expert in the area. If you’re looking for an evaluation, you should turn to an investment banker. They’re the ones who are going to help you best because they understand that market. They’ll also give you a better estimate than another company looking to buy your business would. Anyone can come to you and say your business is worth XYZ dollars. But the investment bankers will give you a better evaluation, and can even get multiple businesses bidding on you if that’s what you want.
The investment banker is like the real estate agent for your house. The agent creates a market demand for what you have and will find the best buyer for you.
What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill? From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Go back to the purpose of your business. Why are you doing this? What’s important to you? What motivates you? Re-discover your fire and energy. Identify what gets you going and build the strategy around that.
Then figure out an action plan. What do you want to do to re-engage? You have to follow through with that.
What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
People who don’t stick to their plan. You have to build a plan, and you have to stick to it. When you veer off, that’s when you run into problems. You can, and should, be adjusting your plan as the market and your goals change, but once you’ve changed it, stick to it.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.
A passion for finance — Are you personally interested in it? If not, why are you doing it?
Personally, my dad was an accountant and investor. He taught me to read the Wall Street Journal and understand investments at a young age. I try and teach my kids the same knowledge by encouraging them to invest some of their own money now.
Willingness to do anything — This business isn’t always glamourous. There are going to be late nights and early mornings.
When I was starting out, I was always the last one at the office. I’d stay until 7 most nights and got to know the janitor pretty well. I’d even help him with the trash sometimes. One day he told me, “Out of all the people here, you’re the one who’s going to succeed.” I asked him why, and he said, “You’re here when I’m here, and you actually care about me.”
A passion for people — This is a relationship business. It always has been and always will be.
That’s why I’ve always been people first. And that goes for all people. Just like you need to be willing to do anything, you need to be nice to everyone, CEO to janitor. They’re all people, and they’re all important. I think some people can forget that.
Willingness to understand that you can’t control everything. You can’t control the financial market — we know that now more than ever. But you can control how you react to it.
Straight talk is important. You have to be open and transparent with the people you’re working with. And when it comes to planning, you have to make sure you do everything you can to ensure your client’s success.
Focus on communication. You need to understand what it is your clients want to achieve.
I always make sure those I work with feel heard and understood. When I write emails, I always ask them how they’re doing, I use exclamation points so they can tell I care and I end by saying thank you, and I mean it. I also make sure whatever I write is succinct enough to be read on a phone screen without having to scroll further.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
You have to love what you do. That’s the number one thing. Then, it never feels like work. I know that gets said a lot, but it’s because it’s true. The moment it feels like a struggle to work, you don’t love it.
Beyond that, I think it’s really important to stay active. It’s scientifically proven that this sends chemicals to your brain that will make you happier. You also need that energy to carry you through the day and follow through on your passions. I workout every morning, and it helps me set the right tone for that day. It keeps me mentally strong.
You also need to have true friends. Be around people who give you energy and uplift you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My biggest passion is definitely helping young adults make the transition from college to the beginning of their career. I love mentoring them. Whether they’re coming from four years of college, or the military, or somewhere else, you can have so much impact because they’re looking for that guidance.
I think it’s probably because I felt I could have done more in my early twenties and made less mistakes if I had had that help. Even with my own kids, I try and help them learn about finances and investing. I always encourage them to set aside about 30% of the money they get from holidays so that they can start a business, or travel, or whatever it is they want to do when they’re younger. My kids’ job is to be more successful than me. I want to set them up for that, but make sure they understand how that works so they don’t think that things in life will be handed to them.
How can our readers follow you online?
My LinkedIn is https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregory-r-kadet-50646620
They can also find our Tampa office at https://financialservicesinc.ubs.com/branch/tampatm/